Rehoming Adoption, and How to Fix It.

IAC is aware of this practice called “re-homing” where families illegally move adopted children (most frequently internationally adopted children) to new families without any oversight from child welfare authorities. Unfortunately, this is only technically illegal if the child crosses state lines as this violates the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC). If not, there are no laws to prevent this activity within a state.

For families who adopt out of the foster-care system, there are services available to help the new family adjust to any psychological or behavioral issues stemming from early childhood trauma. There are even agencies who specialize in finding new placements for children after a previous placement does not work out. Unfortunately, many families who adopt internationally may not know that these services exist, or may not want to go through the expense, emotion, and time that is required to ethically disrupt an adoption.

In addition, many families either are not informed or chose to ignore the information that children (especially older children) adopted internationally may have experienced a variety of trauma, that will make parenting a challenge. This is also true of domestically adopted children if they experienced abuse or neglect before placement, but domestic adoption agencies provide a variety of services to help parents in this situation and to ethically handle a disrupted adoption.

IAC applauds Yahoo for shutting down the chat rooms where many of these “re-homing” arrangements were made. We are also thankful the private Facebook page, called “Way Stations of Love” appears to have been deleted.

Finally, IAC would like to see states and the federal government pass laws that require parents to report to child welfare officials whenever they sign temporary guardianship papers, and for the child welfare officials to investigate the circumstances. The law would need to include a provision that schools, social workers, health care workers and other mandated reporters notify child welfare officials of these arrangements when they find out about them so as to ensure that children are protected in case child welfare officials were not notified.

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  • Toni Hoy

    Ann, while I applaud open adoption, I disagree that “domestic adoption agencies provide a variety of services to help parenst in this situation and to ethically handle a disrupted adoption” In most states, state agencies will offer services to kids that need in home or community based care, but for the most severely affected children, these same agencies are failing children miserably, often forcing adoptive parents to trade custody for expensive treatments so they can draw down federal funding. They are effectively “recycling” children back into foster care for their own benefit.

    I also disagree that shutting down rehoming solves the problem. The real solution lies in fixing it on the front end. We need state agencies to support intensive, expensive trauma and attachment therapies while preserving permanency. If we focus on that, the supply of children being channeled to the rehoming market will stop. We could effectively shut it down. We still need laws as a safety net for those who slip through the cracks. However, overseeing a market that doesn’t need to exist in the first place is not the solution.


    Toni Hoy
    Author “Second Time Foster Child”

  • Thank you Toni. I think your nuanced response to this issue is completely on target. It is far better to address the problem on the front end, rather than trying to do catch up later on. In addition, families should not have to chose between relinquishing their children and getting needed treatment. My blog was really in response to families who do not look into any options before deciding on the “rehoming” solution. But I do agree I was probably too generous in my evaluation of domestic agency support of families in serious crisis.

  • Toni Hoy

    Ann, I think that is why all of our voices are so important. There are many sides to this issue and we need everyone coming together from different parts of adoption and adoption disruption to really make good laws that are not short sighted. I was thinking today that involuntary relinquishment is also rehoming. It’s just rehoming coerced by the government. I really am in favor of treatment, no matter how extensive, intensive, and expensive while preserving permanency.

  • Mia

    Where can we support such a law? Is IAC aware of any proposed legislation that would require parents to report signing temporary guardianship papers?

    This is a great idea and I’d like to support it.

  • Hi Mia,

    Unfortunately, I do not know of any proposed legislation on this topic.

  • Jessica

    There has to be some way that caring families that have the ability/desire to raise these children can be connected with the families who are desperate to be rid of them. Is there any way private groups could get involved to help bring the process above board and out into the light? I hate to say it but even if there was legislation for it, by the time it passed and was funded thousands of kids would be “lost” to this underground marketplace. I have been so consumed by this since I first read the Reuter’s expose and feel like there must be something we can do to help support these kids.
    My understanding from the article was that if a lawyer was involved the kids could legally be move across state lines. Is that accurate? If there was a group of people involved, lawyers, therapist and families that want these children (that have been screened and would be followed up on) do you think it is possible to get involved in this and do… Something?

  • harrysan

    What percentage of adoptions are rehomed? Of those what percentage work or fail?

  • Hi Jessica,

    The child welfare system (including the many private non-profit organizations the system works with) is set up to handle these situations, and they do a pretty good job if the families are willing to put in the work that is needed. I would be concerned that families who already will not work within the system are not likely to cooperate with another organization that is set up to provide these same services. In addition, to do this sort of work the private organization would need to be licensed as a child placing or foster care agency through the state in each state where it operates.

    Attorneys can make placements across state lines, but the placements must be approved by the Department of Social Services in both states (the state where the child previously lived and the state where they are moved to). In addition, a home study must be completed on the new family where the child is placed.

  • dietra

    Well hello people like me who would love to do a independent adoption because i can not pay about 35,000 for a agency but can help the mother out and pay for lawyer fee we can not have that luck to have a baby but we can not help the mothers that cant help there self and a baby

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