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Family reunited following adoption scam

Sunday 02 Aug 2009 12:00a.m.

Family reunited following adoption scam

By Jessie Gurunathan

A tearful reunion in Samoa has brought together two families unwittingly caught up in an adoption scam.

Nine-year-old Jayden Sawyer was adopted by American Patti Sawyer, who paid $20,000 to the adoption agency Focus On Children after being told that she was an abandoned orphan.

But Jayden's birth parents were told she was only being fostered out and would return when she was 18 with an American education.

Jayden is one of dozens of Samoans adopted out to American families through the agency, whose bosses were prosecuted in the US two years ago for deceiving parents in both Samoa and American.

The two governments have now cut a deal which allows the children can stay with their adoptive parents, but could use money from a trust fund allowing them to keep in touch with their birth parents.

It is understood that the children were trafficked through Auckland Airport. The American families were told to meet an agent there and together they'd meet the children off the plane from Samoa.

Many in the Samoan community have condemned the practice because they say it makes money for middlemen but causes grief for everyone else.

But out of the heartbreak there's at least some comfort for Jayden. She will stay in America but her adopted mum wants her to keep visiting her birthplace.

3 News

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