The Makeni Children

E. J. Graff, August 9, 2011
Senior Fellow, Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism

IN 1998, JUDITH AND ANTHONY MOSLEY ADOPTED a little boy whom they believed they were saving from Sierra Leone’s civil war. But was he orphaned—or stolen?

In the wake of recent news—China’s black market in babies, an unprecedented Guatemalan court ruling asking that an adopted child who was allegedly kidnapped be returned—comes another country’s story of fraudulent adoptions. Sierra Leone families are furious about the loss of 29 children they say were adopted to Western countries without their knowledge or consent.

In a heartwrenching three-part investigative series appearing this week at, investigative reporter E.J. Graff unearths startling evidence about the adoptions of the Mosley’s son and the other 28 children that Americans adopted from Makeni, Sierra Leone, thirteen years ago.

Graff’s investigation traces two international adoptions—including the Mosleys’—shedding light on the adoption process and what went wrong. In what may be the first time anywhere, she takes readers through every stop along the chain: birth families, adoptive families, an adopted child, a government official, and the responsible adoption and child welfare agencies.

What happens when it appears that international adoption hasn’t saved an orphan—but, rather, created one? Can justice be done?