exposing the dark side of adoption
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For months, Isabella’s family wanted to know what happened. Now they’re struggling with why.


By Allyson Blair

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Biological family members of Isabella “Ariel” Kalua said Friday they are heartbroken and angry after learning about new allegations about what the 6-year-old allegedly endured at the hands of her adoptive parents, including being kept in a dog cage.

They also said the allegations are fueling their fight to get Isabella’s siblings back in their custody.

“This is a child. How can you do something like that?” said Lana Idao, Isabella’s biological aunt.

“You know, if you weren’t happy ... bring her back. Give them to the next person. They will give her the love and comfort. You know, it’s just frustrating, frustrating.”

Alena Kaeo, another aunt, said she’s struggling to understand the “why.”

“What was their reasoning behind having having the girls? I really don’t know. But if they had loved my nieces the way they claim to have, they would have never done any of this,” she said.

As news of the allegations spread, people began arriving at the Kalua residence to place flowers, balloons and candles at the fence around the property, which is now a crime scene.

“Very heart-wrenching, disturbing, because I have grandchildren of my own,” said Keke Keliikoa, who lives nearby. She and other family members lit candles that had already been placed along the fence.

Keliikoa thought for a moment, then her eyes began to fill with tears.

“It’s ruthless people, selfish people, that could do this as a little girl,” she finally added.

“What’s hard here is hearing what maybe happened to her during the remaining days of her life, it’s so tragic. And no one deserves to be treated like that,” said Honolulu City Councilwoman Esther Kiaaina, who also left a bouquet of flowers.

As more horrific details about the case are revealed, the head of Hawaii advocacy nonprofit Child and Family Service says parents should ask their kids what they’re hearing.

“In the day of social media, kids go on their phones. Say, ‘have you heard about that? What are you aware of? How do you feel about that?’ And as parents say, ‘wow I feel similarly. I’m upset, too,’” said Child and Family Service President and CEO Karen Tan.

In the days after the 6-year-old was reported missing, many of the search efforts included children.

As questions arise, Tan urged parents to give kids facts as simply as possible and don’t go into too much detail. She says kids will ask for more information when those questions come to mind.

“We as adults we feel like we should have all the answers and we don’t, especially in this situation,” said Tan. “I do encourage people to reach out. We have professional counselors that are there are ready and willing to talk and really get the support that families need.”

“This is unacceptable. And I’m hoping that we can all rally, not just for justice, but for all of our keiki. We need to safeguard our keiki,” said Kiaaina.

2021 Nov 13