RE-HOMING: Parents go online to find new homes for kids - FOX 35 News Orlando

RE-HOMING: Parents go online to find new homes for kids

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When adoptive parents have second thoughts, they can turn to the Internet to find their child a new home. Reuters exposed the "re-homing" listings that raise concern but aren't illegal.

There are no state, federal or international laws that even acknowledge the existence of re-homing -- and a lot of parents are taking advantage of that.

A Facebook Group called "Second Chance Adoptions" was very easy to find, and the posts -- which include photos -- clearly list a child's specifications, like height and age.

"There's almost 11,000 likes here," lamented Jaeran Kim, a child welfare advocate. "They talk about where they were adopted, at what age, what all the different problems are."

Kim told FOX 9 News similar groups and forums have been popping up online, offering parents a way to get rid of their adopted children.

"Here, they were vetted to take on this child, and for whatever reasons happening in the home, it's not working out the way they thought," Kim explained.

A five-part investigative series by Reuters looked into the re-homing phenomenon. In the process, they discovered some adoptive parents passed children on to others with little or no government scrutiny.

"It's a way of getting around having to work with an agency to get approved to be able to do an adoption," Kim said.

Much of the Reuters investigation focuses on a Wisconsin couple who said they could no longer care for a teenager they adopted from Liberia. So, they posted an online ad and soon found a couple from Illinois to take her in. No attorneys or child welfare officials were part of the process.

Later on, the investigation showed the Illinois couple lied about their background check to the Wisconsin family and their own biological children had previously been removed by child protective services.

"They don't know who those parents are. They don't have any assurance of what their background is," Heather Vanbrunt, a counselor with the Minnesota Adoption Resource Network, said of re-homing.

Vanbrunt told FOX 9 News that part of the problem is that some adoptive parents don't realize there are numerous options for support.

"To make that kind of decision, people must be in a very overwhelmed, isolated spot and feel like there's no other place to turn," she said.

Yet, Kim -- who was adopted from South Korea as a child -- believes this story only scratches the surface on an even bigger problem.

"I'm sure it's going on here," she said. "I'm sure it's going on everywhere."

One potential safeguard is the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. That agreement requires authorities to be notified if a child is moved to a new home in a different state; however, the Reuters investigation found it is rarely enforced.

Recently, Yahoo! took down all its re-homing forums, but Facebook has yet to do so.

Online resources:

- MN Adopt: http://www.mnadopt.org/
- Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare: http://www.cehd.umn.edu/ssw/cascw/

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