March 11, 2009
Following up on adoption scam, 'Good Morning America' will chronicle FdL
family's trip to Western Somoa
Frequent flyer miles donated so adopted girl can see her biological family
BY SHARON ROZNIK
An Appleton woman's donation of frequent flyer miles will reunite a Fond du Lac
girl with her biological family.
The story of 8-year-old Jayden, daughter of Patti Sawyer, will be followed by a
crew from "Good Morning America" when she returns to her homeland of Western
Samoa this summer for the first time after leaving in February 2005.
"I was just floored," Sawyer said. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think this
The offer from the anonymous donor came after the Sawyer family's story
involving an adoption scam appeared recently on the national morning show. It
was also featured on The Reporter's March 2 front page.
Jayden was among 37 Samoan children who were placed with adoptive families in
the U.S. by an international agency, Focus on Children. The agency told Samoan
families that their children would be educated in America, correspond through
e-mails and phones calls, return home for visits, and come home for good when
they reached age 18.
Patti Sawyer and the other adoptive parents were unaware of the agency's
deception. The Fond du Lac teacher was alerted to the situation about a year
after the adoption by government officials from three federal agencies, she
"I knew it was really serious when I got the call,' sawyer recalled.
Last month, resolution came when a federal judge in Salt Lake City, Utah
convicted 4 persons involved with the adoption agency, Focus on Children, and
the Samoan government deemed the adoptions legal.
The judge also ruled that the convicted set up a trust fund to help the Samoan
children keep in touch with their birth families.
Sawyer said she is the only parent she knows of, so far, who has chosen to bring
both families together. Some, she said, believed they were entering into a
closed adoption. Others fear losing their children. One father has returned his
adopted daughter to her biological family.
"I wanted to travel to Samoa so Jayden can visit with her family, and we could
expand ours. I think of this as a fantastic opportunity to connect two families
who live across the world," she said.
Sawyer was unable to afford the travel fare until the Appleton woman offered
frequent flyer miles she had earned on her credit card. She also told Sawyer she
would pay for expenses and counseling for Jayden.
"She is an adopted child herself, and I asked her to come along, so she could
see the good she was doing. She agreed to the trip the second time we visit
Samoa," Sawyer said.
Sawyer said she was contacted by representatives from both GMA and ABC's
"They will be flying to Samoa with us and documenting the reuniting of Jayden
with her biological family," she confirmed.