MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - A Valley obstetrical (OB) nurse said she knew something was up years ago when two Marshallese patients came to the hospital back-to-back with the same adoption facilitator and adoption lawyer.
The facilitator, she said, was Lynwood Jennet, who was arrested alongside Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen for arranging for pregnant women to travel from the Republic of the Marshall Islands to the United States in order to place their children for adoption.
According to court documents, Petersen would pay the birth mothers up to $10,000. They also had travel, food and cellphones paid for.
An OB nurse, who helped deliver at least two of the babies who were placed for adoption, said it was clear that the word "adoption" didn't translate the same way to people from the Marshall Islands.
"We came to find out that in the Marshall Islands, adoption is not what it means here. It means you are having your child raised by the community," said the nurse, who wanted to remain anonymous. "They were promised that they would come here and that after they got on their feet, got a job, got a place to live, that their children would be returned to them. And we know that's not necessarily the case."
The nurse said that the only person who spoke Marshallese was the facilitator--Jennet.
"She would tell us what she thought we wanted to hear. You could tell that it probably wasn't what the mother had said," the nurse said.
She said she and her employer alerted authorities after the second Marshallese patient came in with the same back story as the previous one. She also learned, through the patient's broken English, that they were living in a house with other pregnant women.
"You could tell they had every intention of remaining in their child's life, and that's when we realized there was something not quite right with this situation," the nurse said. "When they were in the hospital, they would refer to their baby as 'their baby.' They were loving. They were nursing their babies. They were caring for their babies, not what you would typically see from a mom that's placing their baby for adoption."
She said after reporting Jennet and Petersen to the authorities, she did not see another pregnant patient from the Marshall Islands. She believes they bounced around to different hospitals in the Valley.
[CONTINUING COVERAGE: Adoption fraud investigation]
"It's devastating. It's devastating for the adoptive parents. It's devastating for the birth parents. There's no win here," the nurse said.