Lavender Banks

3-year-old girl from China adopted by Sabrina A. Banks aka Sabrina A. Stafford, died from asphyxia and several blunt force injuries.

On August 5, 2009 Sabrina Banks was arrested and charged with murder. While still going by the name Sabrina Stafford, she was the foster mother of Angelic Rose Clary, who died of neglect while in her care.
Date: 2008-05-02
Placement type: Adoption
Type of abuse: Lethal physical abuse
Abuser: Adoptive mother


Elk Grove, California
United States
See map: Google Maps
DocumentDatesort icon
Woman gets 15 to life in Elk Grove slaying of adopted daughter, 32010-09-04
Former Foster Mom Arrested In Connection With Child's Death2009-09-04
Ex-Bakersfield woman faces murder charge2009-09-03
Discussion on related to Lavender Banks2009-09-01
Discussion on Bethany Christian Services forum related to Lavender Banks2009-09-01
Mother arrested for child’s death2009-08-11
Mother Arrested in Elk Grove Toddler's 2008 Murder2009-08-08
Mother Accused Of Killing Daughter2009-08-06
Elk Grove Police Department Press Release2009-08-06
Former Elk Grove resident charged in 3-year-old's death2009-08-06
Football anyone 2008-04-01
Lavender's Adoption Days2007-06-12
Gotcha days2007-06-11
IAAP response to the death of Lavender Banks

Under the radar

Yet another adoption-agency approved "safe haven" for a child languishing in poor care.

That's some FINE pre-screening taking place!

How in the world does pertinent information, like foster-parenting experience... such as THIS... get lost, ignored, bypassed, or missed?!?

does pre-screening do anything?

How much pre-screening do you expect when an agency is working from Tennessee with an adoptive parent living in California? In such cases everything depends on a single piece of paper, the home study. With so much options to shop around for approval, anyone can adopt.

Here are some cases from the Golden State, where home studies weren't able to prevent children from abuse.

The Lavender Banks case is not just tragic, it is ironic too. Several years ago, the Chinese central authorities refused the adoption on the grounds that Sabrina Banks was African American, after which many adoptive parents rallied behind Sabrina Banks and wrote to the Chinese authorities to pressure them to approve the adoption. China caved in, but dropped the agency afterwards.

Lavender Banks agency knew of earlier case

I learned today from a discussion on the Bethany Christian Service forum that to IAAP, the agency responsible for the adoption of Lavender Banks, the case of Angelic Rose Clary was known to the agency.


Dick ...well then seeing as your agency is the one that approved her, do you mind me asking how she passed a homestudy when she had already killed one child and left another near death??!??

It seems to me that Lavender could have lived a full and happy life if someone had picked up on THAT little fact!

Dick Graham, Director IAAP:

Her home study was done by a local agency in California. They ran a check through the appropriate authorities in California. She was not convicted of killing another child. She was never prosecuted nor convicted. The state said that the child died of an accident or natural causes.

I am certainly not defending Sabrina but we do need to look at the information that was and is available. She has not yet been convicted of this death. We have been in contact with the police since shortly after this happened and they have not even told us of all the evidence so no one else has any more information than we do.

We were as shocked as anyone about this. Let us let the police and the courts do their job.


So you knew about the death of the previous child in her care? And the almost death of that baby's twin? But it was ruled incidental enough to approve her to adopt? It seems to me it would have come up in her FBI clearance?

Dick you can understand some of our horror because those of us in the online adoption community really went to bat for this woman. Taking the situation at face value and of course now the ongoing and long term damage she will have done for other AA families choosing to adopt in Asia. And of course the horror of a child's death something failed in the system.

Dick Graham, Director IAAP:

The state of California said the child died of either an accident or natural causes. That is the only information the home study agency had to go on. Yes, there was a failure of the system and questions about that should be addressed to the authorities in California. If they had evidence she was responsible for the death of the twin then they should have prosecuted her and gotten a conviction and none of this would have happened.

She had all the fingerprint checks as everyone does and it showed nothing. The home study agency approved her, the State of California approved her and the USCIS approved her.

It is a tragedy and hopefully the State will examine their procedures again to try to prevent this from happening in the future. That is the outcome we hope will come from this tragedy.

If you check the above, this

If you check the above, this is also not the first case where Bethany Christian Service failed the child by putting them in the hands of these terrible parents.

Background check anyone? anyone?...

Am I reading this right??? Then a background check didn't reveal anything in the past of this AP??? HOW?? WHY NOT???
A child is DEAD because of this little ...oversight? Did this agency get Hague Accredited?

No words to express my disgust regarding this awful awful life that this child lived. If this is not a call for adoption reform, then I don't know when?

Lavender you will not be forgotten!!! Rest in peace sweet angel.


Background checks are not as "extensive" as one might hope, assume or think.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services pages:   

All States, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico have statutes or regulations requiring background investigations of prospective foster and adoptive parents and all adults residing in their households. In most States, the background investigation includes a check of Federal and State criminal records.1 Most States also require checks of child abuse and neglect registries. States may deny approval of a foster care license or adoption application if any adult in the household has been convicted of certain crimes, such as sexual abuse of a minor.

Federal Requirements

State statutes requiring criminal background checks are supported by Federal legislation in title IV-E of the Social Security Act. The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) of 1997 amended title IV-E (42 U.S.C. 671(a)(20)) to require criminal record checks of any prospective foster or adoptive parent to whom foster care maintenance payments or adoption assistance payments are to be made under title IV-E. The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-248) further amended title IV-E to require a fingerprint-based check of a national crime information database before any prospective foster or adoptive parent may be approved for placement of a child, whether or not foster care maintenance payments or adoption assistance payments are to be made on behalf of the child.2

Under title IV-E, approval of the foster or adoptive home may not be granted if either of the following criminal records is found:

  • The applicant has ever been convicted of felony child abuse or neglect; spousal abuse; a crime against children (including child pornography); or a crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide but not including other types of physical assault or battery.
  • The applicant has been convicted of a felony for physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense within the past 5 years.3

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), as amended in June 2003, extends the requirement for criminal background checks to all adults residing in prospective foster or adoptive family households.4 The Adam Walsh Act (P.L. 109-248) also requires a check of State child abuse and neglect registry(s) for all adults living in prospective foster and adoptive homes. These checks must be conducted in every State in which each individual lived during the previous 5 years.

So, the candidate who abuses, neglects, or sexually molests, or engages in child porn, but does NOT get caught or convicted CAN in essence, pass a "Criminal Background Check".

In addition, the check applies to length of residency, which has it's own statute of limitation, as it is clearly written:  "in every State in which each individual lived during the previous 5 years."

Let us not forget, each state is different.  Different state, different rules, different requirements, making it much easier for a non-convicted criminal to fly under the radar, still free to foster and adopt.... AND receive all the financial benefits that can be received via foster/adoption credits and subsidies.

How's that adoption-plan lookin?



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