The Child Exchange: Adoption at its worst

I have heard of the informal arrangements made by adoptive parents to "rehome" their "forever children," but wasn't aware of the scope of the practice. Reuters' investigation into The Child Exchange is an eye-opener, and for me, an introduction to yet another failure of U.S. adoption practice.

Not that what this article exposes could be called practice. Far from it, the shadowy underworld the article describes exists so adoptive parents and individuals with malicious intent can sidestep what few laws exist to protect children. This underworld, which operates with impunity on the internet, gives anyone who wants to get a troublesome adoptee out of their home a ready corps of volunteers to take that child. And you can bet that many of those volunteers aren't operating with altruism in mind.

If, after you read the series, you choose to argue with the fact that adoptive parent behaviors are at the root of much of what is wrong with adoption, I suggest you go back and read again. For the articles make crystal clear that the adopters involved know that they can sidestep laws and regulations through private rehomings.

If you also choose to defend the crazy quilt patchwork of state adoption laws, then I would tell you to read the Q&A at the bottom of article 4, which discusses the laws that might be available to control such practices:
Q: Are there other laws on the books that would help?A: An agreement between states called the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) sets a uniform standard for how to handle custody transfers that cross state lines. But the agreement is relatively unknown among police. Some experts say officials need to be better educated about it. Others say its administrators need more funding to enforce the ICPC. "We don't really have the means to investigate all of the practices that are going on around that country that may infringe upon the compact in one way or another," says Harry Gilmore, a child welfare official in Oregon. 
Q: Could anything more be done by the federal government?
A: Some child welfare officials recommend that Congress make the interstate agreement federal law. That would create standard penalties and enforcement.
There is a lot that's wrong about adoption practices in the U.S., but this, I believe, hits on one of the largest legal gaps - along with what I believe is the only solution: Federal legislation to standardize laws and penalties. Federal legislators, particularly those who have joined the Congressional Coalition on Adoption - who have remained silent on this for far too long, can no longer stand by. They must take action now to protect and defend children. Not doing so is the same as promoting the behaviors described in the series, as far as I'm concerned.

The status quo has continued for too long, allowing agencies and adoptive parents to skirt or operate above the law. Add the internet, and children become no more than pawns on a chessboard.

Enough. It must stop. Every every adoptive parent, adoption lobby and adoption agency must call for uniform enforcement of the ICPC. We must also call for Federal legislation providing desperately-needed oversight of adoption. Please let this series spur you to action.


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