“Do you understand that your baby goes away and never comes back?”

In Adoption, Adoption Trafficking, Agency Complaints, Excerpts, Indigenous Communities, Long Lost Family, Media, The Americas by Adoptionland News

Nurses traded horror stories involving tearful and confused new mothers, who asked whether they were allowed to hold or feed their babies.

On July 29, 2014, Maryann and Dexter Koshiba, 32 and 37 years old, sat, utterly exhausted, in a recovery room at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas. That morning, Maryann had given birth to a baby girl, and both had been up all night through the labor. Around five in the afternoon, Dexter recalled, he received a phone call. A local adoption attorney named Marti Woodruff was sending someone to the hospital with documents for the couple to sign. The Koshibas had been working with Woodruff for about a month to arrange the adoption of their unborn child, and everything had proceeded relatively smoothly until then. An unfamiliar woman arrived and handed over the relinquishment documents. Dexter was so tired that he couldn’t fully focus on the papers. But he signed them anyway, and roused Maryann to do the same. “Do you know her?” asked Dexter, once the woman had left, but Maryann was so groggy that she didn’t recognize anyone right then. Like that, one of the most important decisions of their lives was made.

Maryann and Dexter had grown up together in the Marshall Islands, on the capital island of Majuro, but Maryann had moved to Hawaii with her family and infant son in 2007, and then on to Ore­gon. Dexter followed in 2008, moving first to Arkansas, and then, after becoming involved with Maryann, to the West Coast, where they lived in Seattle for almost two years before moving, together, to Springdale, in the northwest corner of Arkansas—the unlikely home of a large Marshallese population.
“I don’t even know what that means, ‘closed adoption,’” Maryann said. “What is ‘closed adoption?’”

Dexter got a job at George’s, a local chicken-processing plant, making around minimum wage; they found an apartment and settled in among the Marshallese community. In 2011, Dexter took a job at a Butterball turkey plant, where the wages and benefits were slightly better, but the couple still struggled to pay the $450 monthly rent. Leading up to Thanksgiving, the work was steady, as the plant churned out around 45,000 birds per day. But for the rest of the year, Dexter often failed to get enough hours. Their family was starting to grow—in addition to Maryann’s son, the couple had two new daughters—and some months they could barely pay their bills. Maryann wanted to get a job, but they couldn’t afford a babysitter. They pinned their hopes on a tax refund that might let them buy a ticket to fly Maryann’s sister over from the Islands so she could watch the kids.

In 2013, soon after their then-youngest daughter was born, Maryann got pregnant again. By March 2014, the couple had decided to place their unborn baby for adoption. They already had three children to care for, and both had other children from previous relationships living with extended family. The stories that circulated among the Marshallese in Springdale made U.S. adoption sound not dissimilar to customs back home: The adoptive parents would call and send pictures regularly; the biological parents would have the right to reclaim their children if need be; and the children would return to their birth parents when they turned 18. They’d also heard that Marshallese women who placed their babies for adoption in the United States were paid around $10,000.

With the help of a Marshallese man named Justin Aine—a distant cousin of Dexter’s—who had become a liaison between an adoption lawyer named Vaughn Cordes and the transplanted Marshallese community, Dexter and Maryann were matched with a prospective adoptive family. They chatted with the family over Skype and generally had a good impression of them. Immediately after they agreed to the adoption, they started to receive checks from Cordes—­about $1,200 each month. The funds nearly doubled the family’s income. They were able to pay off old bills and buy clothes for the children and milk for the baby. Dexter bought a car to travel to and from work.

In the last month of her pregnancy, however, Maryann pulled out of the arrangement. She fought with Aine—she said he insulted her father; he said she was pestering him for money. She was still determined to place the baby for adoption, though, and the other Marshallese women in the community advised her to contact another local attorney, Woodruff, to complete the proceedings. “The Marshallese ladies talked about Marti,” said Dexter when I met him and Maryann last November at their tidy apartment in Huntsville, a village of about 2,000 people 27 miles outside Springdale, “and said, she’s a good person, helping people do anything.” Woodruff found a new family to adopt the baby and sent Cordes a check to reimburse him for the money he had given to Maryann during the pregnancy.

For the full, complete original article visit here.

Adoption: What You Should Know