Every time you see a national newscast take up valuable time telling us about Miley Cyrus, the Kardashians, Chelsea Clinton or the White House waterdogs, think about Inga, or Quita, victims of the increasingly common practice of underground adoption known as “private re-homing,” in which adopted children are traded around like dogs or kittens, and abused dogs and kittens at that.
I don’t have a lot of commentary about this horrible practice. My life was a little bit happier before it was brought to my attention. In the history of Ethics Alarms, perhaps the most upsetting story I have had to write about was the horrific conduct of Torry Hansen, a Tennessee mother who adopted a Russian child and then, finding that she couldn’t cope with his problems, put him, alone, on a plane bound for Russia with a note pinned to his jacket. I wrote that post with tears in my eyes; it upsets me to write about it now. Yet something very like what Hansen did to her son is being done via the internet, frequently and with little interference from the government or anyone else. I wish I didn’t know about this—no, that’s not quite right. I wish this wasn’t a feature of our society, so I wouldn’t have to know about it, much less write about it.
The hero in this story, so far, at least, is Reuters, the news organization, which performed independent research into America’s underground market for adopted children. It uncovered a widespread and active web network where parents try to pass off children they regret adopting, often in international adoptions. Parents use Yahoo and Facebook and other web locales to advertise the unwanted children like puppies, and then let strangers “adopt” them. Nobody is watching, and like Hansen, the parents solve their own problems while putting orphans they brought to America, and who came to regard them as their family, out of sight and mind.
With “private re-homing,” ads are placed with “copy” like this:
“Born in October of 2000 – this handsome boy, ‘Rick’ was placed from India a year ago and is obedient and eager to please…”
House trained, presumably. A Nebraska woman wrote, as she tried to dump an 11-year-old boy she had adopted from Guatemala,
“I am totally ashamed to say it but we do truly hate this boy!“
Reuters analyzed 5,029 such posts over a five-year period on the message board for a Yahoo group—yes, this has been going on, as Michelle Obama made sure our kids were getting enough fiber in school lunches, that long. The children ranged in age from 10 months to 14 years, and had been adopted from countries such as Russia and China, Ethiopia and Ukraine. Yahoo shut down five such groups….so the faint-hearted parents just find other places online. Similar forums exist on Facebook. Good old Facebook! A Facebook spokeswoman rationalizes the activity because it shows “that the Internet is a reflection of society, and people are using it for all kinds of communications and to tackle all sorts of problems, including very complicated issues such as this one.”
Funny…I don’t think adopting a child and then trying to return him like a Christmas sweater is complicated at all. It’s horribly, unforgivably wrong, as is allowing a parent who is capable of such cruelty to adopt a child in the first place. (My wife and I adopted our son from Russia.)
Witness the story of “re-homers” Todd and Melissa Puchalla, who found 14-year-old Quita in a Liberian orphanage and brought her to the U.S. After finding parenthood too much for them two years later, they posted an ad on the Internet and in a couple days, found new parents to take her off their hands. New Mom and Dad were Nicole and Calvin Eason, an Illinois couple. Nicole Eason assured Melissa Puchalla via e-mails that she could handle the girl. That was good enough for the desperate Puchellas—time to get on with their lives! They did no background checks on the people they were entrusting their daughter to forever—that’s a job for adoption agencies, after all, and also animal shelters.
Reuters later determined that…
- Child welfare authorities had taken away both of Nicole Eason’s biological children years earlier.
- Police reports show that the Easons each had been accused of sexually abusing children that they babysat for
- The official document attesting to their parenting skills , supposedly drafted by a social worker who had inspected the Easons’ home, was forged by the Easons themselves.
But never mind all those little details. The Puchallas drove six hours from their Wisconsin home to Westville, Illinois, and handed over their daughter at Country Aire Mobile Home Park, where the Easons lived in a trailer. The Puchallas signed a notarized statement declaring the Easons as Quita’s new guardians, and they left.
From the Yahoo! report:
“The Reuters investigation found that some children who were adopted and later re-homed have endured severe abuse. Speaking publicly about her experience for the first time, one girl adopted from China and later sent to a second home said she was made to dig her own grave. Another re-homed child, a Russian girl, recounted how a boy in one house urinated on her after the two had sex; she was 13 at the time and was re-homed three times in six months. ‘This is a group of children who are not being raised by biological parents, who have been relocated from a foreign country’ and who sometimes don’t even speak English, says Michael Seto, an expert on the sexual abuse of children at the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group in Canada. ‘You’re talking about a population that appears to be especially vulnerable to exploitation.'”
I really can’t write about this much more, because I am getting furious, depressed and indignant. Why hasn’t “60 Minutes” or any of the other investigative news shows alerted the nation to this development? Why is the trading of vulnerable children like baseball cards not sufficiently important that educating the public about it trumps the tattoos of a Miss America contestant for precious time and space in news reports? How can we tolerate this, and also happily participate in aculture that would prefer to argue about saving theoretical children from once-in-a-century massacres than to rescue real children from the likes of the Esaons and Pachellas?
OK…now we know about private re-homing. Are we going to do anything about it, or are we ready for some football?
No wonder Vladamir Putin thinks American exceptionalism is a joke.
Pointer: Alexander Cheezem