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No Winners in Samoan Adoption Scandal

Last updated 00:00 18/10/2008

Each November a family in the Samoan village of Faleasiu remembers the birthday of little Posi Iva, the six-year-old boy taken from them, and sold to an unwitting American family.

They are not alone in their grief.

At least 37 children from Samoa have allegedly been sold to Americans in an adoption scam that has led to heartache in both countries.

"We really want to see Posi, I miss my grandson," says 71-year-old Fatu Fuiono, who looks after his grandchildren while their parents work on their farm.

Looking at the sparse surroundings I can't imagine Posi's birthday is celebrated lavishly.

Posi is just one child taken from poor Samoan families and legally adopted by families in the US, who paid up to $US13,000 ($NZ21,500) to the now-defunct Focus on Children agency.

Couples who took more than two children were given a group discount, and paid only $US10,000 ($NZ16,500) for each child.

Children from newborns to teenagers were caught up in the alleged scam.

Authorities in the US have indicted seven people associated with Focus on Children on fraud charges connected to 37 of the adoptions between March 2002 and June 2005.

The accused could face up to 80 years' prison, and fines of up to $US2.25 million ($NZ3.7 million) if found guilty.

They are also facing charges including alien smuggling, visa fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

But the harshest penalties in the world aren't going to bring Posi back to his biological family....

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