Monday, March 05, 2007

Samoa: Adoption and Cultural Background

As I reported last week in my post--see blog entry for Thursday, March 01, 2007; News: Fed Charges in Samoan Adopt Cases--an American adoption agency named Focus on Children (FOC), was recently indicted for serious adoption related crimes.

This current blog entry gives a resource for understanding the cultural context in which these crimes occurred.

Because of New Zealand's proximity to Samoa and its large population of Samoan immigrants some of whom practice kinship adoption, the overwhelming majority of children adopted into New Zealand come from Samoa.

Lawyers practicing adoption law in New Zealand must by necessity understand Samoan culture as it relates to adoption.

One New Zealand law firm, that of Galvin McGowan, offers an excellent, well written overview of both the legal context of, the history of, and cultural context for adoption from Samoa. It is well worth reading. Here is the link:

International Adoption--The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly; A South Pacific Perspective

This site also contains some pre-indictment background history on FOC's adoption practices in Samoa.

It is not pretty.

According to their site:

It took a tragedy to force the hand of the Samoan government to take stronger steps to prevent the possible exploitation of children through intercountry adoption. In June 2005 a couple who had put their four children up for adoption removed them from the "Nanny" house operated by Focus on Children as they were concerned about their health. One of the children, a 17 month old girl, died later that week in hospital. An inquest found that her death was as a result of malnutrition. She was also suffering from a skin infection and a respiratory tract infection...

...While the outrage caused by the publicity given to this case has resulted finally in some critical and major changes to the law the question remains as to how many Samoan children have been taken from their parents and homeland under false promises.

It seems likely that the US Federal investigations into Samoan adoption probably began with the death of this little girl and the uproar that it caused in Samoa against the harvesting, for international adoption, of children from Samoa.


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