Adoptive Dad Furious After Airline Accuses Him of Trafficking His Own Daughter

Tucson News Now

Adoptive parents often must face a long list of struggles after they bring their children home. For parents who adopt kids who are of different ethnicities than they are, the transition and difficulties can be even worse. The insensitive questions and rude stares are bad enough. However, other adoptive parents, like this dad who was accused of sex trafficking his own daughter by an airline, are forced to face a whole new level of ignorance. 


Brian Smith and his 16-year-old daughter Georgianna were getting off of a Southwest Airlines flight after returning from a family vacation when they were approached by police officers. According to Tucson News Now, the officers immediately began questioning the dad under suspicions that he had engaged in human trafficking. 

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"When I walked off the plane, I saw two officers standing there," Smith told Tucson News Now. "He said the flight attendant had some concerns about the person you were with."

Tucson News Now

Brian Smith and his wife, Renee, have three biological children as well as Georgianna, whom they adopted from China as a baby. The father shared that he and his daughter were sitting next to each other on their flight home. He claimed that the 16-year old was sleeping for the majority of the trip and that they only communicated with the flight attendant to discuss in-flight snacks. 

"[Georgianna] has a communication disorder, so she is more quiet than other children might be in a public space," said Renee Smith. 

While the father isn't sure what he may have done to make the flight attended suspicious enough to alert law enforcement, he and his wife are both angry and devastated. "I don't like to accuse anyone of anything," claimed the mother. "But I don't believe if Georgianna was a Caucasian child ... I don't believe this would have happened."

In a statement to ABC Action News, Southwest Airlines apologized to the Smith family and said that its flight attendants receive special training that attempts to help them spot possible human trafficking scenarios:

"We’ve shared a heartfelt apology with this family who flies often with us. Our Flight Attendants do receive training in recognizing expert-identified, common behavioral indicators of human trafficking. Following conversations with authorities on the ground after the flight, we’re continuing our conversation with the family and with our Employees whose valuable vigilance is aimed at aiding law enforcement in successfully stopping a growing number of trafficking situations. A quick look at both our workforce and the hundreds of thousands of Customers we carry every day highlights a celebration of diversity that's at the Heart of Southwest’s every success."
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Brian Smith was cleared after proving that Georgianna was his child. While the parents have expressed understanding at the importance of the safety of those who may be in danger, they also hope that these policies don't negatively impact other mixed and adoptive families. 

"We've never had an issue, but now we'll always be worried something could happen," Renee Smith said.

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