Your Introduction To “Private Re-Homing”

Puppy, child, what's the difference? The point is make it someone else's problem, right?

Puppy, child, what’s the difference? The point is t0 make it someone else’s problem, right?

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

Facts: NBC News, Yahoo!,

19 thoughts on “Your Introduction To “Private Re-Homing”

  1. This upsets me so much I can’t respond substantively right now. And I get solicitations (and give to) animal rescue organizations all the time. Have to think. Want to cry.

  2. Abuse of children, foster and adopted children is a much larger problem than you described. And 99% of them involve American born children. Shining a light on anecdotal stories of foreign born children doesn’t get the job done.

    Division of Children and Family (DCF) Services of each state must have the least competent employees. They are tasked with investigating child abuse, placing children in foster homes, etc. The number of children that die from families under DCF supervision is disgusting…

    If anyone wants to make a national story of child abuse it should pull back the curtain of DCF Services of the worst states…. Can start with Florida, Texas and California.

    • Ugh. I hate this kind of comment. Yes, and millions of children starve in Africa. And don’t forget the corrupt foster child system!

      The point is that this practice is largely unknown, and thus nobody is addressing it. The fact that talking about unknown Problem A doesn’t address known and larger Problem B is completely irrelevant to anything, and, honestly, citing it is aa terrible and lazy response. Yes, we know about child abuse, and it is a problem, but at least there are organizations and institutions trying to address it. If this problem is so small, go ahead and fix it. I’m waiting.

      The topic is not child abuse. The topic is parents giving away their children whom they committed to caring for like their own.

      • I just don’t understand these parents. If they can’t handle being parents — why don’t they just go to the courts and get their parental rights terminated? Why are they going this other route? Are they selling their children? I’m going to go hug my babies now.

          • I was also unfamiliar with the term “re-homing”. But I’m not surprised that it happens, Jack. The Terry Hansen case popped into my head last night when I was reminded of how truly low the status of children and the numbers of stable families has devolved to. The state of the family (and thus the children) reflects the state of a nation. When children become a passing commodity, what does that portend for the future of that nation?

  3. Good for you, Dan!! This is the first I have heard about this loathsome practice, even though I worked for Texas’s Child Protective Services for 7 months. I seriously hope something gets done about this and will make as much noise as my limited resources will allow.

  4. Let me, please, present another side to this story.

    I adopted a child with severe mental health needs. While I was plenty prepared to adopt a child, I was not prepared to pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars for the mental health care (many hospitalizations) that he required. I was promised by the state, prior to the adoption, that these expenses would be covered in full.

    When the medical expenses began to pile up, my insurance declined to cover the expenses. Even the state couldn’t afford them. They told me: “Surrender your parental rights, give up your child, ot you’ll be charged with neglect.” Neglect!!!

    I was forced to give up my child because there is NO help (at least in my state) for adopted children with severe medical or mental health needs.

    So, while I agree that this practice is horrible, I offer that there is a reason some people feel they need to resort to it. If the states themselves do not have the resources to care for children with severe needs, how can they expect one or two parents to do it? I am not talking about 99% of children. I am talking about children with needs so severe that most people could not dream of the requirements to care safely for them. The state child protective agency never did find another home for my child. He is now institutionalized. My home would have been permanent and loving if the necessary services had been provided. There needs to be MUCH more support available for parents who adopt children with severe needs. Most of these adoptive parents had their dreams of adopting sabotaged by lack of real services necessary to care for children with severe needs, not because they are bad or incompetent people.

    • Thank you for that perspective, and I’m sorry for your family.

      The only question is, though, whether you would similarly accept a parent who decided to give up her natural child under the same circumstances. Because there is no difference.

      It is a betrayal of a parent’s sacred obligation to a child.

      • It is a fair question, and I would have to answer yes, if the circumstances were the same. What else do you do if a child needs highly specialized care that you cannot afford, and you’re being threatened with a bogus criminal charge if you do not surrender your rights? The state could not even afford it–but they knew the federal government would pay for it if the state got custody of him. That’s why I was threatened. If I had any other option, I would have taken it. It is a horrible position to be in, and most people cannot dream of being in it. It was really my only option. I have received much criticism; but not one of those critics ever cared one day for my child, or any child like him. However, not one of the many nurses, teachers, therapeutic staff, or doctors who have cared for my child has ever criticized me for surrendering my parental rights. They understand that, although we wish all children could be cared for by their biological or adoptive family, that can’t always happen.

  5. If anyone proposes a solution, be careful to scrutinise it to see that it doesn’t increase the premium on child abandonment or destruction, say by carrying out an ostensible rehoming during a trip abroad. After all, that was the consequence for working dogs in London when nineteenth century animal cruelty laws forbade using them to pull carts and so on.

  6. Ealier on, Jack, you made a point of segregating children of ethnic origin (other countries), from national born. I feel this is missing the scope of the issue, given that these children were taken into “care” on american/canadian soil . They were not abducted from another country solely for the purpose of “placement” in “care” (I am using quotations around the key words this system uses).

    Futher, the issure is not solely with ethnic children being in Foster homes. Foster homes are a joy-ride when compared with group-homes and institutions who have an even more cold and distant hand than digging ones grave.

    This issue affects ethnic origin and national born EXACTLY the same, and thus is exactly the same issue. The difference is that one portion is merely looking through a pin-hole at the situation and then declaring that is the entire issue in and of itself, and that the other stuff is another issue entirely. I do not believe I can stress how much that this is the exact same issue — without the blinders on.

    It is a disgusting system that has taken great lengths to cover itself, and goes with virtually unlimited funding with no oversight. They go above and beyond “the law”, in that excise is rarely executed for mistreatment.

    Having grown up through the system from the age of 4, until I inherited funds to release myself, and only surviving on pure instinct for the duration of my stay in home to home, institution to institution, I have the displeasure of presenting information about tens-of thousands of children I had encountered, lived with, played chess with, over the years, and the various extents to which abuses occurred on every possible level — to most of the people I encountered. Whats even worse, is that due to the failure in upbringing and infinite abuses, most of these children who did manage to survive and to come out alive, were forever damaged and are either in prison, mental institutions, or dead. Of the tens of thousands I encountered … only 4 have actually survived past 30 with their sanity, and not in prison.

    To correct this problem, sadly, it does not just stop on the “foster” families. In Canada, this abuse extends so far as to allow doctors exemption from their Oath (unethically of course) to harm children by dosing them with drugs they do not need, and in quantities that are excessive ( proved this one in court when I was 15 while up on charges (another psychological abuse they use) — I asked to be in youth prison for the maximum duration so I could get clean of the crap they were loading into me, after having shown the prescriptions and dose levels they were forcing ).

    I truly do wish for justice on this my friend, and not trying to discourage, but it seems that this system is way too powerful, and any challenge I have brought forth has been met with severe outside force unrelated which is very difficult to prove, but becomes obvious when I stopped fighting, nothing else has happened to me since.

    For those brave enough to stand up — en-mass against this evil monster under the guise of something “for the children” (this is the most evil thing any system can claim they are doing a positive deed when really there is something very sinister they wish to allow), I sincerely hope for the best and I will stand along side you. But I will not stand alone anymore — or be the one standing while everyone else who was going to stand, backs down and leaves me the ONLY one standing.

    But until someone actually wants to do something — to effect a change for the better by removing this cancer from the system politically, etc, then topics like this merely highlight the idealism of what things might be like if things were different and that they suck as they are.

    The problem with things like this is that people who are on the outside looking in at the problem, either ignore, disbelieve, or just throw money at it in the form of a tax deductible donation, but never really address the problem. — This may be a bit cliche, but on an adajcent simile, you won’t fix a country of starving children by sending capitalists your money. You will feed a country if everyone flew over and helped them sow the land (ongoing feeding), or brought 3 loaves of bread each .. or whatever.

    I know this post sounds like a debbie-downer tone, however, there is a bright-side. We CAN do something about this — TOGETHER. One person alone cannot change the world of politics, regardless of what your child-hood school teacher taught you. The constant abduction of our children for the purpose of money making, and other abuses of power is a sinister fact, and can happen to anyone, at any time, for any reason — and you only have a chance in court later…. being judged by the same system that stole your child(ren). This is an outrage, and should be headline news every single day until it is abolished — however that is not going to happen, because guess who owns and controls all the major media outlets. Sure they may post the occasional article showing something so they can claim they are objective on all issues, but overall — there is entire sections of the newspaper dedicated to fashion, and tatoos, and who is with who in celebrity-land. There is a section dedicated to countless sports scores and projections and who’s being traded for what and why. There is a colorful section on random sketches to portray satire. But mostly, the media is a fear factory to incite racial disturbance and hatred for other countries so they can justify the murder of HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS every year.

    So if you want to fix this >>>> where can one reasonably start. We need the media to use as an outlet for information to reach the masses of whom are mostly docile and accepting of everything when it’s worded in such a way like “No more smoking on planes because it is a security problem. This is for YOUR safety” — or even better — “We are censoring and monitoring all communications in this country to protect the children” —- when something sinister is so devilishly crafted, the majority seem to not see the underlying issue, and rather than fight, they accept and pretend nothing bad is happening as a result because they “did it for the children”, so in accepting, in some fashion the person accepting believes that they too “did it for the children” :: and if they don’t accept the sinister stuff, then of course they are evil because they don’t care for the children and are an outcast in society —- Jack …. where the heck does this fall as I am having a difficult time explaining this from the categorizations you placed online.

  7. Sometimes I read things on here that make me angry. Then there’s the ones that make my vision go hazy and give me visions of breaking out my smackin’ bat. This falls under the latter category. Jesus. No kids of my own, but I’m inclined to call all my godchildren today.

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