Father hears daughter after five years

Date: 2009-03-23

Written by Marieta Heidi Ilalio

Jayden’s biological father, Upega Isaia... very happy to talk to his daughter over the phone. Photo: Sarai Ripine

The biological father of a girl who was given up for adoption through the Focus on Children agency yesterday heard his daughter’s voice for the first time in almost five years.

With tears streaming down his face, Upega Isaia of Tufulele, 59, told Jayden in a telephone call to the United States, “I love you.”

The telephone call was arranged by Samoa Victim Support Group yesterday. Jayden is the youngest of his eight children and was adopted by an American couple in 2004, Mr. Isaia says.

Melei Isaia, Jayden’s biological mother, was unable to be present during the phone call due to illness. A SVSG representative spent much time speaking with Patti Sawyer, Jayden’s adoptive mother, describing to her how Mr. Isaia felt when he heard his daughter’s voice.

Patti said Jayden is a talented girl and that she and her husband are very proud of her.

“I just thank God that our prayers are answered,” Mr. Isaia said later on. Over the years he and his family asked “God to guide her and protect [Jayden].”

Mr. Isaia explained that Jayden left them when she was only four years old. The Isaias reasoned that because Jayden was the youngest of their eight children, giving her up for adoption would allow her to have a good future.

He was not worried, he said, because he knew she would be well taken care of. Even after learning of the Focus on Children adoption scam Mr. Isaia still did not worry, “because we knew that she was in good hands.”

Jayden was among 37 children placed with adoptive families through the now defunct Focus on Children adoption agency that was based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

It was closed down by the authorities after persons involved in it were found guilty of offences regarding some of the children’s adoption. Four people involved with the adoption agency were convicted last month by a federal judge and placed on probation.

The good news for Jayden’s biological parents is that she will be visiting them for one week in late July, Mr. Isaia has confirmed. She will be accompanied by her adoptive family and representatives from the “Good Morning America” television show.

Mr. Isaia said he and his family are excited for Jayden’s arrival. They are preparing a large welcoming party, which will coincide with his 60th birthday celebrations, he said.


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