Monday, March 16, 2009

Voices of the Victims of Focus on Children Utah's Samoa Scam

PEAR is giving to voice to the victims of FOC Utah: below is the first statement, from Elizabeth Muenzler, Adoptive Mother of a trafficked child.

Many thanks for your invitation to write a statement on your blog concerning the recent Focus on Children case. We are the parents of one of the children involved and after having been vilified in some circles for appearing and making a statement at the sentencing hearing, it’s nice to actually be “asked” to comment on this case and our disappointment with the outcome.

We were one of the few families who advocated for jail time in this case. For me, jail time was a no-brainer. After reading the indictment two years ago, there was no way I thought that they weren’t going to jail for a very long time. And yes, I know that they aren’t “hardened criminals,” ready to attack people on the streets. And, I realize they have many children of their own. And that they done many good things too, through their adoption work. But, does that really “justify” them not going to jail? I consider myself a good person. I have children. I’ve done good things in my life. But if I went out and robbed a bank tomorrow, I bet I would go to jail. And rightly so.

My faith in the Justice System in this country has been greatly reduced by this case. I hope the tax payers don’t spend the $10 fine per count all in one place. The defendants probably spent more on their lunch that day than they had to pay to get out of court. Unfortunately, more than anything in this process, I have learned that the Justice System isn’t for “justice.” It’s for “resolution.” And sometimes…the bad guys do win.

However, regardless of the spineless outcome, we must go on and continue to fight. It’s now time for organizations like this one, to spearhead a cry loud and clear that changes need to be made. And soon. No other child or family on either side of the ocean deserves what they got in this case. And things like the definition of “an orphan”, or the definition of “abandonment,” which could have easily been defined with a good dose of common sense and a handy Webster’s Dictionary, should never have been fodder for defense attorneys to “make their case.” (Defense attorneys, who, by the way, mentioned during the sentencing that their defendant had “suffered the most” in this case.)

Count us in to begin to work with you, side-be-side, until all of those in the adoption world who think they can continue to hurt innocent children and families, realize we are watching. We will change whatever needs to be changed to ensure that no one ever has to go through what our family has gone through ever again.

As for our family, we move forward now and not backward. We’ve been in contact with our daughter’s birthparents are working on establishing that relationship. We will continue to make sure that they are a part of her life and that she knows who they are. Once she is an adult, we will support any decision she makes in terms of her relationship with them.

My statements at the hearing last month were full of the anger, hurt and betrayal that our family has felt throughout this tragedy. Some criticized me for it. It’s hard for people on the outside looking in to know what it’s like. But saying our comments then, and outlets like this blog, have helped healed us. It gave our daughter a voice in this process. And gave us a chance to someday show her that we did everything we could to help bring them to justice.

Thank you for this opportunity and for everything you do to help clean up the adoption world. We look forward to joining you on this journey very soon.

Elizabeth Muenzler

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