Unhappy with your adopted child? Just trade him/her on the Internet.
I know a couple from a former church who adopted a child. The kid evidently was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. Woof, he was a hand full. My son often came home from Sunday School with multiple bruises. “What happened,” I’d ask. “It was just so-and-so,” he’d answer.
I didn’t particularly like the ADD boy and I figure he was one of the many reasons our church attendance began to wane.
Despite my dislike for that child, I feel haunted when I hear what happened to him.
It turns out a few years after we stopped attending that church, the adopted ADD boy become too much for the parents to handle, so they “returned” him. I don’t have any details. Today he’s a vague memory, and yet I can’t help but wonder what ultimately happened to him.
That’s probably why this Reuters story haunts me.
Todd and Melissa Puchalla struggled more than two years to raise Quita, the troubled teenager they’d adopted from Liberia. When they decided to give up the 16-year-old, they found new parents to take her in less than two days — by posting an ad on the Internet.
Woah. It’s one thing to send a child back to the adoption agency, it’s quite another to place an ad and swap the child like you’d sell a book, car, or craft item. Sadly, these transactions often don’t turn out very well.
Nicole and Calvin Eason, an Illinois couple in their 30s, responded quickly. In emails, Nicole Eason assured Melissa Puchalla that she could handle the girl. “People that are around me think I am awesome with kids,” Eason wrote.
A few weeks later, on Oct. 4, 2008, the Puchallas drove from their Wisconsin home to Westville, Illinois. The handoff took place at the Country Aire Mobile Home Park, where the Easons lived.
Needless to say, these transfers take place with zero oversight. Based on trust (?), not everyone who responds to these ads are particularly suitable candidates to adopt children.
On Quita’s first night with the Easons, her new guardians told her to join them in their bed, Quita says today. The Easons say they never shared their bed with any child they took in, but Quita remembers it vividly; Nicole, she says, slept naked.
Within a few days of dropping Quita there, Melissa Puchalla couldn’t reach the Easons and had no idea what had become of the girl. About two weeks passed before authorities located her, took her from the Easons and sent her back to Wisconsin — alone, on a bus.
So, how prevalent is this activity?
Reuters analyzed 5,029 posts from a five-year period on one Internet message board, a Yahoo group. On average, a child was advertised for re-homing there once a week. Most of the children ranged in age from 6 to 14 and had been adopted from abroad — from countries such as Russia and China, Ethiopia and Ukraine. The youngest was 10 months old. One participant referred to the re-homing forums as “‘farms’ in which to select children.”
A 10-year-old boy from the Philippines and a 13-year-old boy from Brazil each were advertised three times. So was a girl from Haiti. She was offered for re-homing when she was 14, 15 and 16 years old.
“I would have given her away to a serial killer, I was so desperate,” one mother wrote in a March 2012 post about her 12-year-old daughter.
The stories these children tell are incredibly horrific.
Some re-homed children have endured severe abuse. One girl adopted from China and later sent to a second home said she was made to dig her own grave. Another re-homed child, a Russian girl, recounted how a boy in one house urinated on her after the two had sex; she was 13 at the time and was re-homed three times in six months.
And what role does local governments have in these situations?
There is one potential safeguard for children: an agreement among states called the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, or ICPC. It requires that if a child is to be transferred to a different state, parents who take in and give away the child must notify authorities in both states. That way, the prospective parents can be vetted.
Not until January 2011 did an official responsible for overseeing the U.S. child protection compact call attention to the “grave danger” of the online network. In a nationwide alert, an administrator for the ICPC warned that adoptive parents were sending children to live with people they met on the Internet. The practice, the official wrote, “puts children at substantial risk.”
Grave danger? Indeed.