Samoa - Elleia Nyberg (Sei So)

Sapati described a "program" that "was for the future of the kids," said Isaia, Sei's father, through a translator. Children would get a U.S. education and return at 18, Sapati told them.

The Sos hesitated. Sapati returned with Ieti and Dan Wakefield, recruiters for Focus on Children.


that the program was affiliated with the church and an LDS family in the U.S. would educate and care for Sei.


They filled out paperwork -- all in English


"It didn't make sense." Mike and Kari Nyberg first met Sei in an Auckland, New Zealand, hotel in January 2004. The 4-year-old repeatedly cried for her mother before falling asleep that night with a Samoan coin and necklace clenched in her fist.

Once she learned English, Elleia spoke often of her Samoan family -- her parents, her siblings, what it was like to sleep on the wooden floor of her house.

"It didn't make sense," Mike said. "We were told she was in foster care for a specific period of time."

The agency had discouraged a trip to Samoa, saying Cyclone Heta had damaged the island and there was an outbreak of German measles under way. T

Sei would return when she was 18. They would receive money every month from the Nybergs. They would get photographs and regular communication.

"Those things never took place because we didn't know they were being told that," Mike said.

The Sos left the girl's future up to the Nybergs. After wrestling with the heart-wrenching decision, the Nybergs left Elleia with her parents and returned home without her.

"Our family loves Elleia with all of our hearts and doing what is best for the child isn't always easy," Mike said, his eyes brimming with tears.

After Sei had lived in Samoa for seven months, her parents contacted the Nybergs, saying they wanted her to return to America. If her parents fully understood the adoption now, the Nybergs thought, they would love to have her back.

Sei once again became Elleia. Nine months later, however, the Nybergs' marriage was in trouble, and they suggested she could be adopted by one of Mike's sisters.

The Sos decided it was best to bring their daughter back for good. The Nybergs returned her to Samoa in February.

Date: 2004-06-01
Number of children: 1


Organizations: Focus on Children Utah


Documentsort iconDate
A Dad's Adoption Nightmare2009-06-22
Adoptive parents feel betrayed 2009-02-25
Dreams of parents in two worlds shattered by scandal 2007-06-17
Four Sentenced in Scheme to 'Adopt' Samoan Kids2009-02-26
Judge has mercy on Samoan adoption scam defendants; no prison time2009-02-25
No winners in Samoan adoption scandal2008-11-18
Owners of agency at centre of Samoan adoption scam avoid jail2009-02-27
Patti Sawyer’s family is in jeopardy. 2009-02-26


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