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Regretting adoptions, parents trade children on the internet

When a couple or an individual decides to adopt a child, some stressful situations and difficulties are bound to arise. Particularly for parents who are adopting an older child or a child from another country, the transition period can be rocky in many cases. However, in undertaking the adoption the parents have made both a serious legal and an emotional committment to the child they adopted, which means that when the situation becomes difficult they should reach out for help but not abandon the child all together.

This issue was brought to light by a recent investigative report into the underground network of people who trade adopted children. Often taking place in cases of a difficult international adoption, this can result in children being transferred to dangerous homes or to guardians with a criminal history.

Referred to as “private re-homing”, the practice of advertising an adopted child online for transfer to another home is not supervised by child protective services or an adoption agency. Instead, people transfer custody through a contract, much as if they were selling a car or giving away a pet.

If this system sounds rife for abuse, that’s because it is. Children who are moved to homes not approved by the adoption agency that helped bring them to the United States are at risk for various types of abuse and exploitation. Many children do not speak English and suffer from various medical or psychological issues, making it harder for them to know where to turn for help when this type of thing happens.

There is no centralized method for law enforcement to deal with this type of situation, although some jurisdictions have asserted criminal liability for these transfers. There is also no tracking of what happens to children who are adopted from another country and brought to the United States, so the rates of successes and failure are not fully known.

These are important issues for families to consider when they decide to seek an international adoption. These children deserve to be placed in a loving, permanent home with parents who will not give up when it becomes difficult. Families who are not able to provide that should not engage in international adoption.

Source: Reuters, “Americans use the Internet to abandon children adopted from overseas,” Megan Twohey, Sept. 9, 2013

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