Tuesday, June 26, 2012

American Couple Jailed in Ghana for Suspected Child Trafficking for Adoption

There's been a lot of gossip on various adoption blogs (like here and here and here, for a small sampling) about this case, but this, from the AP, is the first "official" media report I've seen:
Police in Ghana say an American couple was recently detained on suspicion of child trafficking after trying to board a plane with four children they are trying to adopt.

Comfort Miah, an official with the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit, told The Associated Press: "They say the children were adopted and we are investigating to find out if this has been properly granted by a court of proper jurisdiction."

Sol and Christine Moghadam from Irvine, Calif., were traveling with their two biological children and four adopted siblings from Ghana. They were stopped Friday at Accra's airport.

On their blog and in a video created on their behalf, the couple says they were forced to spend Friday night in jail. Their two biological children were placed in an orphanage. As of Tuesday, they had still not been allowed to leave Ghana.
For the family's blog mentioned in the article, click here.

16 comments:

Kim said...

I am glad it was officially confirmed. So much is rumor. Hoping they are reunited and home soon! Thanks for sharing.

Sharon said...

I've got excerpts and links to multiple news articles at my blog for those who are interested:
www.whateverthingsaretrue.typepad.com

It looks like the family just took their blog down. Unfortunately, they were attracting nasty comments from trolls.

Suzee said...

Lots more details here (check tge comments):
http://www.reformtalk.net/2012/06/23/arrests-in-ghana-during-adoption-process/

Something with this case still strikes me as a bit "off" (even tho there's not nearly enough info to know if they're innocent or guilty) -- Ghana's stable, democratic, pretty good interns of law and order and due process and has a very very good relationship with the US, ie has absolutely nothing to gain by jailing these folks out of spite (tho it is, of course, possible).

The blogger id linked to put forward that he thinks tge tip that landed this family in jail was either the bio family of their just-adopted kid's (implying they'd been improperly put up for adoption) or a competing adoption agency that didn't like how dillon was doing business (based on competing JLC adoption agency rehearsing a statement).

I am very interested to see what happens!!

Sharon said...

As Suzee says, a lot of people are reading into a statement on the MLJ agency website (there is no JLC agency), assuming it has something to do with this case -- but the MLJ post is about Congo, which is NOT Ghana

http://mljadoptions.com/Media.aspx?articleID=512

This seems like conspiracy theory stuff to me. MLJ adoptions does NOT have a program in Ghana. the agency was also published before the Moghadams were arrested.

Sharon said...

Meant to say the agency's post was published several days before they family was arrested.

Suzee said...

It looks like there's a BIG story here: the Mognahans have been released ON BAIL (which differs considerably from simply being released or exonerated), ie according to the US Embassy "a bond has been posted for their release":
http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2012/06/194095.htm#GHANA

My questions are:
1) If the Mognahans had legitimately completed the adoption of the 4 Ghanaian children, why don't they have the visa to bring the children home to the US?
2) Why did the Mognahans attempt to board a plane with their bio and adopted kids if they did not have the VISA in hand? A US I-600 form is **not** the same thing as a visa.
3) How come the Mogbahans had copies (vs required original) adoption documents?

Sharon said...

Suzee, it's not clear from the news coverage, but it's not unusual in international adoption to board a domestic flight with your adopted child to travel to another city within the child's country to obtain the visa in that second location. Don't know if that's what happened here, but if so, totally normal.

KTLA news station is reporting that all six children have been restored to the custody of the Mogdahams.

Sharon said...

The OC Register has just reported that the family has been cleared of charges.

http://whateverthingsaretrue.typepad.com/whatever_things_are_true_/2012/06/american-family-accused-of-child-trafficking-in-ghana-reportedly-cleared.html

Suzee said...

Sharon - while the news article you cite says the family's been cleared, the US Embassy says they're still out on bail (ie people who are cleared are set free... No need for bond to ensure they will return for their day in court). The Smbassy also refers folks to the "Ghanaian authorities" when a reporter asks why they're out on bail.

Both the OC Register article and the blog you link to state that:

"The adoption was properly conducted and all of the paperwork was in place, according to Kyle Tresch, a Dillon International vice president.""

The VP of Dillon Adoptions claims the adoption papers are in order... AND that the family is still waiting on.
Visas for the 4 Ghanaian kids.

Thus:
1) I do not take the word of an adoption agency that the papers are OK and the family's been cleared -- why is the Gov of Ghana not saying this in an official capacity??
2) if the Migdahan family has TRULY been cleared of all charges, why are they still out on bail?
3) if all of the adoption paperwork is 100% in order, why are the Mogdahans STILL waiting on visas for the kids?? Theyd already have the visas in hand by now if they were!!

Suzee said...

Sharon - according to CNN, as of a few minutes ago, the Mogdahans are STILL out on bail and are still awaiting visas. CNN quotes the family's blog, in which Sol and Christine SAY they've been cleared and local officials have apologized.... But CNN Was unable to confirm this with Ghanaian officials.


""Our case is not complete yet, but our chief officer from the Ghana police department has apologized for their overreaction and stated that our detainment was a mistake on their part. "

CNN's repeated attempts to reach the couple and Ghanaian officials were unsuccessful."

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/06/28/world/africa/ghana-us-couple/index.html?c=&page=0


This situation is still super-duper sketchy...

Sharon said...

Suzee, the US Embassy hasn't briefed the press on this case for the past 2 days; no doubt there have been developments since then BUT it's not the most impor issue for the State Department, obviously, so the fact that they haven't said anything else about it (and press hasn't asked) since Tues doesn't seem like a big deal to me. Today's State Dept briefing focused on Syria.

I have no inside info about this case, but I have adopted internationally multiple times, dealt directly with the State Department and dealt directly with officers of foreign govts. It took 5 days to get visas for the siblings I adopted because somebody in a local US INS office didn't send a cable to Addis Ababa when he was supposed to. I had to go to the Embassy every day for a week to make sure it got done, and spend all night every night calling the US to make sure the people here were sending it out, so I could go home as scheduled. I spent most of my time in Ethiopia at the Embassy.

In India, it took 4 days to get a visa for my daughter because a politician died and a spontaneous nat'l holiday was declared, then they wanted new photos taken of my daughter, then the guy who did the exit interviews was sick...You might think our Embassies and consulates would be models of efficiency, but it really isn't much different than dealing with the Social Security office in some ways. You wait for hours, finally get to talk to someone at 3 pm, and then they tell you to come back tomorrow if you want to see the Wizard.

Given that the information available on this case in limited, people will tend to interpret it based on their own experience, beliefs etc Does it surprise me that officials in the Ghana govt are not calling back CNN? Not at all. I suppose one can look at all this and think it's "super-duper sketchy." Maybe we'll all find out later that's the case, but to me, given my experiences, I see a series of unfortunate events.

Sharon said...

Suzee, the US Embassy hasn't briefed the press on this case for the past 2 days; no doubt there have been developments since then BUT it's not the most impor issue for the State Department, obviously, so the fact that they haven't said anything else about it (and press hasn't asked) since Tues doesn't seem like a big deal to me. Today's State Dept briefing focused on Syria.

I have no inside info about this case, but I have adopted internationally multiple times, dealt directly with the State Department and dealt directly with officers of foreign govts. It took 5 days to get visas for the siblings I adopted because somebody in a local US INS office didn't send a cable to Addis Ababa when he was supposed to. I had to go to the Embassy every day for a week to make sure it got done, and spend all night every night calling the US to make sure the people here were sending it out, so I could go home as scheduled. I spent most of my time in Ethiopia at the Embassy.

In India, it took 4 days to get a visa for my daughter because a politician died and a spontaneous nat'l holiday was declared, then they wanted new photos taken of my daughter, then the guy who did the exit interviews was sick...You might think our Embassies and consulates would be models of efficiency, but it really isn't much different than dealing with the Social Security office in some ways. You wait for hours, finally get to talk to someone at 3 pm, and then they tell you to come back tomorrow if you want to see the Wizard.

Given that the information available on this case in limited, people will tend to interpret it based on their own experience, beliefs etc Does it surprise me that officials in the Ghana govt are not calling back CNN? Not at all. I suppose one can look at all this and think it's "super-duper sketchy." Maybe we'll all find out later that's the case, but to me, given my experiences, I see a series of unfortunate events.

Sharon said...

11Suzee, the US Embassy hasn't briefed the press on this case for the past 2 days; no doubt there have been developments since then BUT it's not the most impor issue for the State Department, obviously, so the fact that they haven't said anything else about it (and press hasn't asked) since Tues doesn't seem like a big deal to me. Today's State Dept briefing focused on Syria.

I have no inside info about this case, but I have adopted internationally multiple times, dealt directly with the State Department and dealt directly with officers of foreign govts. It took 5 days to get visas for the siblings I adopted because somebody in a local US INS office didn't send a cable to Addis Ababa when he was supposed to. I had to go to the Embassy every day for a week to make sure it got done, and spend all night every night calling the US to make sure the people here were sending it out, so I could go home as scheduled. I spent most of my time in Ethiopia at the Embassy.

In India, it took 4 days to get a visa for my daughter because a politician died and a spontaneous nat'l holiday was declared, then they wanted new photos taken of my daughter, then the guy who did the exit interviews was sick...You might think our Embassies and consulates would be models of efficiency, but it really isn't much different than dealing with the Social Security office in some ways. You wait for hours, finally get to talk to someone at 3 pm, and then they tell you to come back tomorrow if you want to see the Wizard.

Given that the information available on this case in limited, people will tend to interpret it based on their own experience, beliefs etc Does it surprise me that officials in the Ghana govt are not calling back CNN? Not at all. I suppose one can look at all this and think it's "super-duper sketchy." Maybe we'll all find out later that's the case, but to me, given my experiences, I see a series of unfortunate events.

Sharon said...

So sorry about the multiple posts! Maybe Malinda can delete a couple?

Suzee said...

The latest Ghanian news report is that while the initial tip regarding the Mognahams adoption was "inconsistent" (not untrue or embellished or just plain false, merely "inconsistent") and that according to the hovernment's Criminial Investigations Division is "expected to conclude soon". The Sol and Christine Mognahan are still out on bail.

At a minimum, this tells me that:
1) the investigation is still ongoing
(ie it hasn't yet concluded)
2) Sol and Christine are still suspects (since they are still out on bail)
3) no word on whether visas for the 4 Ghanaian kids have been issued = visas have not yet been issued, thus there is no evidence (yet) that the adoption paperwork is 100% confirmed to be in order

B.A. said...

Suzee, I hope you know by now that the "big story" was a "big mistake", and that the entire family is now home.