Paul Peterson, Maricopa County (AZ) Assessor charged with human smuggling in adoption fraud scheme. The scheme involved bringing women to the US from the Marshall Islands, the place where Peterson served an LDS mission.
One of the many issues I had with the mormon church when I left is finding out how strongly it opposed single parenting, teenage pregnancies, and abortion. If I applied what they said to me, I should have given up my daughter for adoption! This is an example of black and white thinking. This never leads to anything good, but rather to extreme actions.
A dear friend of mine, Betty J. Hardman, once worked in the Executive Office Building at 47 East South Temple as a PBX Operator. She also worked part time as a nanny for an LDS Sandy, UT, attorney's family that adopted 15 children. I once asked her why in the world someone who is successful would adopt so many children. She told me it was to save on taxes.
How does a person save on taxes by having many children?
As a child I envisioned adopting many children. Instead I’m so exhausted from the whole mormon thing, as well as being a single parent, the only person I can look after now is myself. I’m fine with that. It would be wrong to adopt for any personal reasons, it’s should be a selfless thing, as should raising your own children.
A few years ago, a friend of mine (an active mormon church member), adopted a few children (over a period of about four years) from mothers from the Marshall Islands. He and his wife are past the age that most people choose to have children and they found it very difficult to find any children to adopt. Younger couples have first priority and there aren't many children available after the younger couples get the ones that are available. He said it is very expensive and explained to me everything that he had to pay. Most young couples could never afford to pay what he paid. It was a lot and he is relatively wealthy. But he stressed that the mothers only get expense reimbursements between when the adoption process starts and when it concludes. He said the mother can back-out at any time in which case all of those expenses that he paid would be lost. He came from California to Arizona to pick the most recent child up.
To me, it looks like this Attorney who was arrested is likely to be the lawyer he probably dealt with. Knowing my friend, the children will be well loved and cared for. They will grow up in a wealthy family with white parents that are old enough to be their grandparents. I would guess that my friend and his wife never knew anything related to their adoptions were illegal or out of order. Who knows what the mothers were told or how they were treated. From what my friend said, these women who adopted-out their babies got a new start as a single woman with no children. Apparently, one woman who used this adoption service previously will tell a pregnant friend about this adoption service and the friend will use it also, to avoid being a single impoverished mother.
The history of this seems to indicate that Americans wanting to adopt found a ready market of baby sellers in the Marshall Islands. Business boomed for quite a while and then individuals (nanny statists?) decided that, probably for reasons of unfair bargaining positions, the two countries should agree that Marshall Island women would not act as incubators/luggage, by flying to the USA at 8 months and three weeks of pregnancy to exchange a mere pittance (by American standards) for their newborn (unwanted) baby.
So the agreement between politicians (and other assorted do-gooders) was that Marshall Island women would NOT be allowed to do the above. But as one of the stories I read pointed out, there was no 'policing' of this mandate, and incoming heavily pregnant women just kept on signing up with the defendant and others. If some nosey US immigration officer asked, "are you here to drop off your baby in exchange for cash?" the woman would say, "No!" and the officer would allow her entry because our agreement with citizens of the Marshall Islands is that they have unfettered access to the USA!
The baby-selling bonanza has existed for a long time, and the defendant got caught up in it while still in college because he'd been a missionary there, knew the language and the people. He was a natural and he made good money as a gopher and it likely influenced his path in his schooling and career choice.
Other attorneys are named in some of the background stories, but they apparently did and do take better care of what is visible to the authorities, like not asking for benefits for the ladies that are not theirs to claim. Although I bet that the argument, "Look what the USA did to their homeland!" will be used as justification.
I don't know if 'penalties' were posted back when the 'no baby-selling allowed' rule was put into place. He seems to be guilty of breaking the 'no baby selling' rule between two countries, but did it become part of the US Penal Code?
On the USA side, there are a lot of people he made happy, and on the Marshall Islands side, there are people for whom he was an easy way out of a predicament. He made good money being useful to the parties on both sides of the equation. But he apparently got a little too greedy when it came to having the women claim the use of American taxpayer money.
"Petersen and Long completed missions in the Marshall Islands with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and they later worked in the islands on behalf of an international adoption agency. They continued working with the agency while both were in law school in Arizona.
Long said he's looking for another lawyer to represent Petersen because of their friendship and Long's own deep ties to the Marshallese community, noting he adopted a Marshallese child 20 years ago."
I'm also wondering whether or not the babies were adoptable only to Mormon families. The way it used to be, if an LDS girl got pregnant out of wedlock, as they say, she was put before a bishop's court and threatened with discipline unless she gave up her baby to LDS social services (what ever they are called). She faced discipline if she chose to keep the child or offered the child up to another service. I don't know if that exists anymore. The church used to charge the usual exorbitant amount that other private agencies charged (reportedly like as high as $40,000), when some thought they should not be profiting by another person's trouble. There were a lot of news write-ups over the years, and the Salt Lake Trib reported a couple of years ago that the church had gotten out of the business. Many believed that they succumbed to the publicity. I dunno. I can't see them NOT doing it.
I've known a couple of girls who had to do this. One of my high school friends got pregnant at BYU and kept her child. It was 1969, and that was unusual. She got into loads of trouble in the ward and got some kind of "discipline." I think she was only disfellowshipped. Although she was gorgeous, she never got married, and raised the child. Now she has grandchildren from her daughter.