13 Apr 2004

Marshalls hopes for US adoption curbs

3:26 pm on 13 April 2004

The Marshall Islands says it hopes its compact agreement with the United States will help stop illegal adoptions by US agencies.

This follows reports of more Marshallese women in Hawaii giving away their newborn babies to unlicensed adoption agencies.

A new law in the Marshall Islands states all its adoptions must now go through one organisation, the Central Adoption Authority.

Our correspondent in Majuro, Giff Johnson, says US states react differently to the illegal adoptions.

"Here in Majuro they were shocked that Hawaii child protection welfare office people refused to even accept a report to look into a possible problem in the last couple of weeks, whereas in the state of Utah, they are saying they're getting a much more proactive stance from adoption agency regulators involved in processing many of the adoptions."

The compact agreement, which is hoped to be signed within a few months, will include a provision making it illegal for Marshall Islanders to use their visa free status to bring children into the US for adoption purposes.