Investigating Unlawful Adoptions

Oct 20, 2014

Virginia Commission on Youth

The Virginia Commission on Youth is scrutinizing the practice of finding new homes and transferring custody of adopted children—while bypassing state oversight and safeguards. 

The practice—known as “re-homing”—was uncovered through last year’s Reuters and NBC News investigation, which found an underground market for adoptive parents who no longer wish to care for their adopted child. 

The investigation found that through websites such as Facebook, parents arranged custody transfers that circumvented the state adoption process, which includes background checks and home studies. It also found that some children went to people with records of violence and untreated mental health needs—including those who already had children removed from their homes. Commission Legal Policy Analyst Will Egen said one group is especially vulnerable to re-homing.

“Many of these adoptions happen from children between the ages of 6 to 14.  Many were from Russia or China. And in many of the situations, parents were misinformed about the emotional or physical well-being of the children when they adopt them. Also, problems crop up years later. So when a parent gets a child at the age of 3, 4, 5, the child is fine, but five, ten years later the child is rambunctious.”

These parents typically failed to pursue post-adoption services because they were unaware of lawful options. The Commission discussed formalizing methods to ensure that all adoptive parents know about these services, as well as enabling the children to receive proactive foster care assistance through early adulthood.