Kids for Sale? A Dangerous, New Alternative to Working Within the Child Custody System

ABA Journal picked up on a fascinatingly disturbing new trend some parents are taking advantage of when their foreign adoptions aren’t working out: put them up for sale.

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.

And perhaps the most eye-opening quote from the article:

“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.

See Reuters for the entire series on this new phenomenon, called “private re-homing.” Over a 5-year period, 261 children were advertised on Yahoo alone. Thankfully, Yahoo took notice of the practice and shut it down. At least 70% of the kids were foreign-born and the vast majority were identified as having special needs.

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The reason it appears most families are interested in buying? The price. Families can now “purchase” a child for free and forego the typical price tag that can range into the tens of thousands. Hopefully legislators take notice of this problem and make this practice a thing of the past. The first step (if the Reuters story is accurate): it should take a lot more to gain temporary custody over a child than to sign a form power of attorney.

Alex Hunt

About Alex Hunt

Alex Hunt is a former Yale & Irene Rosenberg Graduate Fellow at the Center for Children, Law & Policy. Alex graduated from the University of Texas in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in government. Before entering law school, he taught middle school math at YES Prep Southwest in Houston with Teach For America. In 2010, he received New Leaders' EPIC Spotlight Teacher Award, a national award for teachers with outstanding student growth. Alex graduated cum laude from the University of Houston Law Center in May 2013. During law school, Alex was Casenotes & Comments Editor for the Houston Journal of International Law, interned for both state and federal judges, and served as Vice President of the Health Law Organization (HLO). In addition, Alex has received the Irving J. Weiner Memorial Scholarship Award (for a year of outstanding work in the UH Law Center Legal Clinic), the Napoleon Beazley Defender Award (for outstanding work on behalf of children), the Ann Dinsmore Forman Memorial Child Advocacy Award, the Mont P. Hoyt Memorial Writing Award for an Outstanding Comment on a Topic in International Law, and he was a finalist for Texas Access to Justice's Law Student Pro Bono Award. Alex is currently in private family law practice with the Hunt Law Firm, P.L.L.C. in Katy, Texas.

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