Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Arkansas's lenient adoption laws exact price from Marshallese family

Posted By on Wed, Apr 22, 2015 at 12:38 PM

click to enlarge NEW REPUBLIC
  • New Republic
Kathryn Joyce, writing in The New Republic, has produced a piece of long form journalism worth reading by all interested in the ongoing story of how Arkansas cares for its children.

It's about adoption trafficking built on the Marshallese community in Northwest Arkansas. It begins with the story of a mother who  learned to her dismay too late about "closed adoptions" and the irrevocable loss of a child. The surprise was rooted in culture. In the Marshall Islands, there's shared community parenting. Many children don't live with biological parents, but that bond is unbreakable all the same.

Arkansas has become a popular place for adoption of Marshallese children beause of the ease of adoption under state law, including the short period for a mother to reconsider.

Many call the practice human trafficking. Mothers in desperate circumstances take financial support while pregnant from lawyers who arrange adoptions. Some are brought to the U.S. pregnant from the Marhsall Islands to have babies. Unhappy stories abound.

The legal, medical and social services community is reacting in Arkansas. But the practice, if slowed in some ways. is far from over.

The article examines legal and cultural dimensions of the story.

The author will soon be back in Arkansas, working for the Arkansas Times on our ongoing  "Beyond rehoming" project on the state's child welfare system.

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