Take Two for September 10, 2013

'The Child Exchange': The underground market of unwanted adopted children

Child Exchange

REUTERS/Handout

On the day her adoptive parents dropped her at the Eason trailer in Illinois, they snapped this picture inside the couple's kitchen. From left to right, Calvin Eason, Quita Puchalla and Nicole Eason.

Adopting a child is an often lengthy, expensive and emotionally taxing experience, so it might be hard to believe that there's a network of adoptive parents out there who want nothing more than to hand off their children to someone else. 

A new investigative report from Reuters uncovered a harrowing story about the trend among adoptions called re-homing. The term refers to when adoptive parents decide they no longer want to house a child and then look to find the child a new home.

Re-homing often happens with little in the way of background checks, and adoption officials say some children wind up in abusive homes.

"Many of the children that I identified who were being offered up in this re-homing network had been originally adopted from foreign countries," said Reuters investigative reporter Megan Twohey on Take Two. "A common thing that you hear from these adoptive parents who offer their child up for re-homing is that they weren't adequately prepared for the challenges that followed."

Re-homing isn't always done without agency oversight, however. In an official re-homing, the scenario must be vetted by a third party, and a judge must sign off on the adoption. In addition, the original adoptive family must terminate their parental rights. 

It is possible to go outside the oversight of a judge, however, with simple power of attorney. An adoptive parent can find someone via the Internet who is interested in taking the child. They can then have a document downloaded off the Internet transferring guardianship to the new parents and have it notarized to make it official. 

"It basically functions as a receipt, it's not filed in any court, there's no government involvement and many times that's the way that many children are re-homed," said Twohey. 

Twohey began her investigation by identifying numerous Yahoo! and Facebook groups that served as a kind of bulletin board for unwanted children. In addition to posts from parents talking about the challenges of raising an adopted child were posts that read like advertisements for kids people hoped to re-home. 

Yahoo! closed the groups identified in Twohey's report, but Facebook has not made any plans to follow suit. 

"This is just the beginning of the response, both from the people who operate these larger online networks to the fact that this rehoming is going on," said Twohey. "It'll be interesting to see if Congress responds, if the foreign countries respond. Time will tell how this plays out, but I do think that we're going to see some changes to the re-homing landscape here in the coming weeks and months. "


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