Local attorney trying to stop fraudulent adoptions

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"There are a number of different schemes by which adoptions are being fraudulently induced in Northwest Arkansas"

ROGERS, Ark. (KNWA) — Following yet another report of fraudulent adoptions in Northwest Arkansas, a local attorney is doing everything he can to put a stop to the crime.

Since April 2017, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has investigated a Springdale woman for fraudulent adoptions.

Maki Takehisa
Maki Takehisa

On September 27, federal officers charged 39-year-old Maki Takehisa with aiding and abetting in alien smuggling.

Takehisa was transporting moms-to-be from the Marshall Islands to the United States and forced them to put their babies up for adoption.

Melisa Laelan, Chief Executive Officer of the Arkansas Coalition of the Marshallese (614 E Emma Ave Suite 113) in Springdale, believes this case stems from people abusing Marshallese norms.

She wants more awareness to be shed on the issue.

“We’re a sharing culture, we like to share properties, we like to share our kids with aunties and uncles,” Laelan said. “I think sometimes when people know that, they take advantage of that but you can’t do that.”

Marshallese Adoption 2_1536284173428.jpg.jpg

For years, Josh Bryant, an attorney in Rogers, has been trying to find ways to stop this kind of criminal activity.

“They’ll be promised money, they’ll be promised a better life,” Bryant said. “A lot of times none of those promises actually pan out.”

Bryant helped create Act 1022 last year which would make it illegal to force a woman into adoption for personal profit or financial gain.

The bill defines it as human trafficking, which according to Bryant, sends out a great message.

“We in Arkansas are going to stand up against that kind of conduct but the system in which that conduct is permissible has not been fixed.”

– Josh Bryant

Bryant said until there is a national standard for adoption practice, this will continue to happen.

He plans to form a group to study the issue more extensively and hopefully come up with more systemic fixes the Arkansas General Assembly can pass in 2021.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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