The Child Exchange

In the first of a five-part series, Reuters looks at how some people who adopt a child and then change their minds can go on the internet to find new homes for them, a procedure called "private re-homing." The process is run without oversight, and things can go very wrong. We are introduced to Quita, who was adopted from Liberia as a teenager. Two years later, her parents gave up on the difficult and sometimes-violent daughter, and handed custody of her over to a couple they found through the internet.

Giving away a child in America can be surprisingly easy. Legal adoptions must be handled through the courts, and prospective parents must be vetted. But there are ways around such oversight. Children can be sent to new families quickly through a basic "power of attorney" document – a notarized statement declaring the child to be in the care of another adult.

In many cases, this flexibility is good for the child. It allows parents experiencing hard times to send their kids to stay with a trusted relative, for instance. But with the rise of the Internet, parents are increasingly able to find complete strangers willing to take in unwanted children. By obtaining a power of attorney, the new guardians are able to enroll a child in school or secure government benefits – actions that can effectively mask changes of custody that take place illegally outside the purview of child welfare authorities.

A few days after the handover, Quita's new family was nowhere to be found. Quita's story hints at poor preparation and oversight in the initial adoption, but the series focuses on what happens afterward, which also involves poor oversight, plus lax law enforcement and the desperation of unprepared parents with nowhere else to turn. Part two in the series is also available, and is even more disturbing. Link

See more about baby and kids at NeatoBambino

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