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Reuters’ Rehoming Investigations

adoptionMaking the rounds on many adoption chat sites is the series carried by a number of TV news shows this week:  “The Child Exchange:  Inside America’s Underground Market for Adopted Children”.  As the appalling installments continue, you can gain access when each becomes available at:  http://www.reuters.com/investigates/adoption/#article/part1 .

The series chronicles families who feel stuck with out-of-control, predatory children whom they’ve adopted.  Often, they are “advertised” (for free) on the internet, in hopes that a family with better resources may be a better family for them.  Sometimes, they end up with very dangerous new “parents” (perverts, pedophiles, convicts), and occasionally, the original adoptive family is ordered by the government to go and get them.

Lose- lose situation.

The series calls for greater governmental involvement, and Reuters is happycircle_kids_small to report that they shut down many of the Yahoo groups where such child-swapping was occurring.  Good.  However, as an adoptive parent, I can tell you that this will not answer the issue, namely, out-of-control children destroying and preying upon otherwise normal families.

Adoption-is-BiblicaThese are families where the knives and scissors and razor blades must be locked up or removed from the house.  This is where door locks, window locks, and motion detectors give little rest to already-weary, hypervigilant parents who are simply trying to ensure that nothing “bad” (fill in the blank) will happen during the night.  These are kids who refuse to eat, or binge, or cut, or have sex, or beat the other children or pets in the home.

Just staying in the home and trying to work it out… 398558_3290862330776_504615223_n-300x200doesn’t work. 

Therapy?  When the family pets turn up dead, one by one?

So what’s to be done?

The Reuters investigation found, in its study of over 5 years’ worth of online chat postings, that frequently, the same children had been “rehomed”, or moved to a new family, year after year after year.

teenabused0528_1There’s always the sense that your family might be the one able to help.  Maybe.  The best-case scenario, in my many years of hearing of such cases, would be this:  a one-child family, with huge medical insurance, no family pets, willing to homeschool or send the child to special schools able to accommodate them, usually with one parent who does not have to work outside the home, and a marriage strong enough to accept assaults on every side, and one of the parents who has training in psychology, mental health issues, or is trained as a prison guard.  It could be a larger family, with multiple adopted children, or many special-needs kids, and the sense of a clear calling from God.

These profiles have the best chance of succeeding with a rehomed child, one coming from a disrupted 5435629608_59f1bf131fadoption.

Mind you, generally, these rehoming moves are not legal except in the very most basic sense.  A power of attorney gives someone else the right to care for the kids.  Usually, no formal readoption is undertaken.

Why, you ask?

Money.  The majority of these cases come from foreign adoptions which cost a lot.  After a family lays out $25 – $50,000+, makes multiple trips to a distant land, stays sad childhome with the child during their adjustment period… one or both parents may just lose that job.  No more high-paying career, no more benefits, struggling to meet the mortgage or put food on the table.  Buying clothes from second-hand shops.

And then the child’s overwhelming problems.

This is why the government won’t solve the problem and step up anytime soon:  it costs money.  Unless you’re going to offer free healthcare to all adoptive families, whether foreign or domestic, or offer to take into custody extremely dangerous children (whether dangerous to themselves or to others), the problems will continue.  Overwrought, distressed, in-over-their-heads parents will look to dump their kids… here, there, or anywhere.

Rather than showing seemingly well-adjusted adoptees in their late teens or 20s shaking their heads about how2 someone could give them away, how about showing a teen or preteen adoptee in the midst of a raging lunatic episode?  How about blurring the face and interviewing others in the home who have been physically or sexually attacked?

Don’t get me wrong.  I have counselled numerous a-parents who did not understand that they would not necessarily “live happily ever after” from Day One.  It was going to take some hard work and change on their part—learning a foreign language, having strict and consistent rules, removing all questionable friends or electronics, monitoring and verifying 25/8 instead of 24/7, etc.  Their home sweet home might turn into a lock-down boot camp before things got better.

Despite understanding all that, there are some kids who are simply broken.  In most cases, nobody gets rid of a child for no good reason.  Whether it’s the effects of trauma and abuse backgrounds, or just plain old mental illness, these young people can be a danger to their new families.  Until we deal with that reality and give the families some alternatives, underground networks and abandonment are going to continue to flourish one way or another.

Rather than sensationalism, solutions, anyone?


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6 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Jeremy says:

    Thanks for the voice of balance and reason. If the problem were straightforward we would already have a solution. Every child is affected differently by his past. Some can cope and some cannot no matter how much help you get them.
    It speaks to the normalcy of the parents and middlemen that when they hear about potential problems they go and retrieve the child. Why can’t law enforcement track unfit parents or criminals before any children come into their home? Aren’t they on probation with mandatory home checks?

    • avatar admin says:

      You’re welcome, Jeremy. There are many instances of child predators with kidnapped children, even. Overburdened social workers sometimes don’t even come inside the home….

  2. avatar Sybil says:

    I agree with what you said. I offer no solutions but it isn’t because I haven’t thought about it. I personally know at least 4 sets of parents who have had a child so troubled they had to get them out of the home for everyone’s sake. It was heartbreaking but the children were truly “broken”. I could see they had no other choice.

    • avatar admin says:

      That’s it, Sybil. Very few alternatives are available to those who are struggling. If anything, these stories tell me that I don’t have it bad at all, so that’s a public service sorts. I just don’t see how driving the families underground and isolating them even more is going to help.

      Since the little boy was sent back to Russia by himself on the plane, there’s been a lot of talk about post-adoption support, but I’ve yet to hear of anything tangible or affordable for truly desperate families. Maybe this will lead to something….

    • avatar STACY says:

      Sybil, It is so sad that adoptions don’t always work out. I was a New York foster mom and being told that after 18 months of caring for them,the children in my care would be freed for adoption, instead they were returned to a family member and a few years later returned to foster care, because they could not deal with slow children. I was not willing to travel to that nearby country and leave the children who were in my care, By then I had decided to just be a foster mom whose home became a transitional home where I only took in children who had a great possibility of returning to their family. If I had that chance again I would have traveled, but I didn’t. This wasn’t a case where I returned them, but the family member did.

      • avatar admin says:

        Wow, Stacy, thank you for sharing your story! That is a very real risk of the foster-to-adopt system, the chance of the kids being returned to birth families that may not work out. Again. How beautiful that you are a mom to the kids in the foster system, who are often put into very unreliable or uncaring situations. What a breath of fresh air!

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