Family Law

When a foreign adoption doesn't work out, the Internet offers a dubious option

Adopting a child requires, at minimum, court approval and legal paperwork.

Abandoning a child, biological or adopted, can result in civil liability or even criminal charges.

Traditionally, a child who proves too much for a family to handle might be sent to live with relatives or placed in a boarding school, entirely at the discretion of his or her family. But the Internet now offers another option, and it can be disastrous, reports Reuters.

With no government oversight or approval, parents simply offer a troublesome child in an online ad for placement with strangers. Providing them with a power of attorney rather than formal custody of the child allows the new adults in his or her life to enroll the child in school and apply for government benefits without scrutiny from authorities, the article says.

Experts say such arrangements can be a recipe for the sexual abuse and other mistreatment that several international adoptees whose custody was transferred in this manner tell the news agency they personally experienced.

“This is a group of children who are not being raised by biological parents, who have been relocated from a foreign country,” Michael Seto of the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group in Canada tells the news agency. “You’re talking about a population that appears to be especially vulnerable to exploitation,” he says, noting that some don’t even speak English.

In addition to children adopted from foreign countries, those with special needs, a history of being sexual abused and/or substance abuse issues proliferate in the accounts of parents looking for others to take a problem kid off their hands, reports another lengthy Reuters article about the “private rehomings” often initiated by online ads.

“I would have given her away to a serial killer, I was so desperate,” wrote one mother in a 2012 post about her 12-year-old daughter.

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