Women from the Marshall Islands looking to immigrate as climate change increasingly threatens the islands have been caught up in an illegal adoption racket in the United States.
The New Yorker reports that federal authorities indicted former missionary Paul Petersen in October. Petersen had allegedly paid pregnant Marshallese women to give up their children while profiting off higher rates paid by adoptive parents.
His scheme earned him counts of human trafficking, the sale of a child, and fraud for his multiyear scheme.
Women who gave their children to Petersen, some of whom moved to the United States for the experience, say they were misled about the closed nature of the adoptions. They also reported that Petersen’s agency did not tell them that the agreement the Marshall Islands has with the United States makes these types of adoptions illegal.