Diasporian News of Friday, 14 February 2003
Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago, USA -- The U.S. State Department has located three missing brothers from Bolingbrook in Africa, where they had been taken by their adoptive mother, who is in federal custody on a charge she brought people into the United States illegally.
The two younger Beck brothers, ages 11 and 10, were discovered at a boarding school, while the 12-year-old was found living with a minister and his wife, who are friends of the adoptive mother, said Martha Allen, chief of staff for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
The boys were taken to the U.S. Embassy in Ghana and are now residing with diplomats while DCFS prepares to send staffers to evaluate them and prepare them for their return.
Quoting a report to the consul general in Ghana from an investigator who found the boys, Allen said they were "comfortable with their living situations" and characterized them as "well-behaved, calm and courteous."
The two younger brothers, Isaac Kwabana and Kojo Apiadu, were attending a boarding school in Saltpond, Ghana. Earlier this week, a DCFS official said the boys had been in the West African nation for a year or two.
Allen said the oldest boy was found living with a minister in Port Harcourt, Ghana, "a coastal city." However, Port Harcourt is a coastal city in Nigeria, three countries to the east of Ghana. Reached late Thursday, Allen said she wasn't certain which country the boy was found in.
The oldest boy, Patrick Kwame, did tell officials his mother "promised to return and get him months ago and he was inquiring about where she was," Allen said.
A DCFS official earlier this week said investigators were told Patrick Kwame was taken to Ghana last September.
Esi Antobam, who adopted the former DCFS wards in 1999 after serving as their foster mother since the early 1990s, was taken into federal custody last October after a raid on her house in Bolingbrook.
Federal investigators suspect that Antobam, a native of Ghana who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1991, was smuggling children and adults into the U.S. while also defrauding the government for day-care payments, according to a federal affidavit.
Although she was indicted on only one count last October, a federal prosecutor told a judge this week that additional charges would be brought Feb. 26.
Federal authorities discovered a suitcase full of passports when they raided Antobam's home, according to the affidavit. Investigators also interviewed a former tenant who said that several years ago Antobam took the tenant's two daughters to get passports, but then Antobam retained the documents, the affidavit said.
It is not clear how, if at all, Antobam used the three adopted brothers in her alleged illegal activities.
Antobam also has three other adopted children, two of whom are former DCFS wards, which a Will County judge placed in temporary DCFS custody Monday.
Judge Rodney Lechwar also signed an order to have the three brothers returned to the U.S.
John Mukasa-Ssebaana, a DCFS social worker who is a native of Uganda, will travel to Ghana to retrieve the brothers, Allen said.
Mukasa-Ssebaana will have a traveling partner, although DCFS was still working out who that would be.
On Thursday afternoon, Allen said Mukasa-Ssebaana would be joined by Brother Leonard Muhammad, chief of staff for Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam. Allen soon called back to say Muhammad was not available to make the trip.