Missing girl's adoptive parents seeking to get other kids back

·3 min read

Sep. 22—The adoptive parents of missing 6-year-old Isabella Kalua attended a family court hearing Monday on the status of their three foster children removed from their Waimanalo home Sept. 13, after they reported her disappearance.

Isaac "Sonny " Kalua and wife Lehua met Monday with police, the same day police suspended the multiagency search for the Waimanalo girl.

William Harrison, a criminal defense lawyer, said it was the Honolulu Police Department that made the allegations to have the three sisters, ages 12, 3 and 1, of Isabella removed, not Child Welfare Services.

Harrison seemed pleased it was police, not CWS.

"Normally, if there's possible harm, that's when CPS (Child Protective Serv ­ices ) steps in, " he said. "Only the Police Department claimed there was possible harm, and they don't have any evidence."

He said the adoptive parents are "going to litigate that issue."

Harrison accompanied them to meet with detectives.

"My clients spent a significant amount of time—over two hours, " providing them with a recorded statement, he said, adding police reiterated they were not suspects.

"We have to talk with everybody who potentially has any knowledge about her whereabouts, " Harrison said police told them.

Police said they could not comment on the investigation.

Harrison said Isabella had a history of wandering outside and sleeping in the yard at night. A door alarm signaled she left the house.

The family said they saw her at 9 p.m. Sept. 12 asleep in bed, and awoke 6 a.m. Sept. 13 to find her missing.

The news of Isabella's disappearance spurred people from across the island to help in the search with her biological family, from Monday until Sunday, when the family announced it would discontinue coordinating the volunteer searches but vowed to continue looking for her.

The Kaluas took custody four years ago of Isabella, named Ariel Sellers at birth.

Birth mother Melanie Joseph and her former boyfriend lost custody to Child Welfare Services because of their drug abuse.

The Kaluas adopted Ariel within the last year, changed her name, and in June requested to have her withdrawn from public school to home-school her.

Joseph last saw Isabella over a year ago and noticed bumps on her head, two swollen fingers and arm bruises.

Hawaii News Now reported CWS investigated a broken finger in October 2019, which the family says was due to slamming her hand in a door, and a broken leg in January 2020 due to an alleged trampoline accident.

HNN, citing unnamed sources, says there was a delay in reporting the 2019 injury and getting treatment, yet a panel of experts found no maltreatment in either case.

Steve Lane, who has served as a court-appointed special master in the Peter "Peter Boy " Kema Jr. abuse case, said holding two multidisciplinary team meetings for two injuries could only mean the injuries were suspicious or there was a history of harm.

Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 346-17 says any adult living in a foster home convicted of a crime other than a minor traffic violation could be reason to deny certification of the home. Isaac Kalua has a felony assault conviction record.

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