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If I Give You My Child, Aren’t We Family? [Roby & Matsumura]

If I Give You My Child, Aren’t We Family?
A Study of Birthmothers Participating in Marshall Islands-U.S. Adoptions

Authors: Jini L. Roby a; Stephanie Matsumura b


While poverty is suspected to be the major reason for birth families relinquishing their children for international adoptions, little is known of the impact of the interplay among the economic, familial, and cultural aspects of a particular sending country which culminates in the adoption decision. In this study, the authors studied 73 birthmothers in the Republic of Marshall Islands, a small Western Pacific island nation with a total population of 68,000, to explore the influences that led to their adoption decision. Their findings reflect an environment of extreme poverty, the breakdown of traditional family support systems, and the exploitation of the cultural understanding of adoptions.

If I Give You My Child, Aren’t We Family?

A Study of Birthmothers Participating in Marshall Islands—U.S. Adoptions

In August 1999, a moratorium (Adoption Residency Act, 1999) was placed on international adoptions in the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) by the parliament, following

several years of skyrocketing adoptions of its children by U.S. families. The small Western Pacific island nation, an independent democracy since 1986 from its former status as a trust territory of the United States, had no laws to regulate adoptions. As a result, adoption practices had ranged from competent and ethical to those aptly described by a high court judge as those of a “black market” (Marshall Islands Journal, 1999). These practices included door-to-door solicitation for children, lack of legal representation for the birth parents, and inadequate legal notices to birth families. In addition, rumors abounded of coercive and deceptive means through which children were taken from their parents.

See attached article

2002 Jun 1


RobyMatsumura.pdf (208092 Bytes)