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‘Unbelievable’: Advocates say Isabella’s placement in adoptive home raises serious questions

Published: Nov. 12, 2021 at 5:40 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 12, 2021 at 6:20 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As more details emerge on the Isabella “Ariel” Kalua murder case, child advocates continue to question how she and her siblings end up with the home in the first place.

Privacy laws prevent the state from releasing information on the adoption case, but advocates point to other abuse cases in which Child Welfare Services failed to stop the harm.

They include the deaths of Peter Boy Kema and Shaelynn Lehano-Stone, which involved similar starvation and abuse issues.

An area of concern that jumps out is Isaac Kalua’s past conviction for terroristic threatening and assault 20 years ago.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Randall Rosenberg, an attorney who represents many abuse victims, including the siblings of Peter Boy Kema.

“The fact that this was happening to her for a substantial amount of time and no one saved her, it seems outrageous.”

Advocates also say a criminal record alone should have kept the Kaluas from adopting children and the kids could have been placed with biological relatives.

“One of my concerns is there are apparently competent, available, volunteer members of the biological family who are willing to take these children and who were willing to take the children before they were placed with the Kalua family,” said paralegal child advocate Steve Lane.

“Why didn’t the state look first as they’re required to to the biological family relatives for the placement of these children?”

Child Welfare Services said in a statement that it understands “the pain our community is currently experiencing, and we join with the community in sorrow and frustration when harm comes to any child.”

The statement continued:

“The work that Child Welfare Services does with families is most often sensitive and maintaining confidentiality avoids or prevents further trauma on the child/children involved. In addition, CWS is unable to provide comment where there is an ongoing investigation or involvement with the courts. Child Welfare Services is part of the Child Welfare System. This system includes, law enforcement, the courts, schools, providers, and medical staff. We ask the community to please report what you see and what you hear so we may investigate where child abuse or neglect is suspected, or where child abuse and neglect has occurred.”

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