Marshallese Adoption

Updated: Jul 26, 2019

Is your agency, consultant or attorney sending you cases for Marshallese adoption situations. 

If so, there’s a lot you need to know! 

The History:

From 1954-1958 the US tested nuclear weapons on the Marshall Islands after moving the Marshallese people away from the areas that were being tested. Once the Marshallese people returned, their soil was contaminated making farming and fishing harmful. Years later, it was discovered there was radiation levels way above the normal range causing health issues and cancer to the Marshallese people. Because of this, the US paid the island as a whole $125 million to “make up” for the mess they had caused. Which, when you think about it it isn’t a whole lot for an island full of people who have lost their ability to make a living from farming or fishing, their main source of income. In this settlement, the US also has allowed the Marshallese people to come to America without issue to work and live if they choose to (and can afford to get here). 

The Problem:

Due to the nuclear testing and poverty level being so low, many of these families struggle greatly. Adoption professionals have picked up on this and will pay for pregnant women to come to the US, put them in apartments (10 women to a small 2-3 bedroom apartment) and pay for them to “live”, in return for them placing their children for adoption. They give these women “birth mother” expenses like most states allow. The women will send this money back to their families in poverty on the island. The adoption professionals don’t explain the process of adoption well to these women most of the time (on their island, adoption means the birth mom is usually helping in a co-parenting type manner), and once they discover how it works in America, most try to change their mind. I say “try” on purpose. There has been a lot of feedback from investigators, the women themselves and journalists who have shared that these women are actually being forced into placing their children because the adoption professionals will tell them they “have” to pay back the expenses (which is against the law), money they were given, etc. if they choose to parent. They say this knowing the women can’t pay it back due to the poverty cycle they are stuck in, so the women are coerced into placing their children because they are given no other “choice” by these professionals who should be protecting them.

You will often see this happen in Arizona, Utah, Arkansa and Hawaii. These seem to be the “hubs” for the Marshallese people to be as well as the adoption professionals who are running “black market” adoption cases. 

Because most of the people who are doing this are attorneys, they know the loopholes in the system, therefore allowing them to escape being punished within the justice system. There are many hard working people out there trying to shut down these practices, but unfortunately it hasn’t happened yet. There are even judges who refuse to finalize an adoption when they see a Marshallese case pop up because they know and see the deceit. 

You can find many articles online calling out specific attorneys who seem to be involved in these black market practices, so ASK your adoption professionals many questions if you are being presented Marshallese cases. Don’t fall prey into these very unethical and coercive practices. Help protect these women who don’t know what they are walking into because they are being victimized by the very people who should be protecting them! 

(Please note we understand this does not pertain to EVERY Marshallese adoption case. We are solely trying to bring awareness to the corruption that is happening. There are many adoptive parents, groups and others who are trying to change the issues and bring to light this social justice issue. This post is to educate on the bad. We do know there are hopeful adoptive/adoptive parents who are fighting for ethical practices and we stand beside them in their efforts to love these women well through true ethical adoptions.)

Blog post written by: Mallory Fogas, Owner of Arrow + Root, LLC

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