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Embassy grilled on adoption scandal

Published: 8:15PM Sunday March 11, 2007 Source: One News

The United States embassy in New Zealand is in the spotlight over an American adoption scandal involving Samoan children.

A US adoption agency and seven of its workers have been charged with people smuggling, two years after ONE News uncovered the alleged scam.

Now at least one of the Samoan couples, who say they were duped into giving up their children, want them back.

The Su'a family lost five of their children.

"My feelings are I want my children returned," says the children's father Aloese Su'a through an interpreter.

Investigators allege birth parents like the Su'as only signed their children away when told they would come home after being educated in America.

Now the Su'as want their five children back after hearing the people involved with the adoption agency have been arrested and charged.

"I'm happy the people have been caught because these people were doing the wrong thing coming to Samoa and tricking parents just like us," says Su'a.

The Su'as say they never got to say goodbye. After signing the adoption papers, they were told their children would stay in a special adoption house in Samoa for six months before going to the US.

"What happened, when we went to check on our kids they had already been taken away to America," says Su'a.

It was ONE News who revealed to the Su'as in 2004 they had actually signed their children away forever.

It was also ONE News who told the US embassy in New Zealand that Samoan children getting visas were not actually orphans and the birth parents did not appear to realise they were giving them up.

Despite this, the US Department of State says visas to Samoan children kept being issued for another 10 months.

ONE News has now asked the embassy in New Zealand to explain why it kept issuing visas despite knowing there was a problem. A statement from the embassy calls the alleged adoption fraud a shocking deceit for the parents involved and a heartbreaking misuse of trust. But it makes no mention of the visas.

The US embassy has since cracked down on issuing visas to Samoan children - now an officer from the Auckland consular office has to travel to Samoa to interview the birth parents.

But that has come too late for the Su'as, desperate to be reunited with their children.

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