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Government Officials Becoming More Aware of Underground Child Exchange

Posted on in Adoption

adoption, rehoming, child exhanges, underground adoption, Kane County family attorneyWhen it comes to interstate adoption, all 50 states adhere to the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). The idea of interstate adoption is simple enough: if a child is born in one state and is adopted by parents in another state, then ICPC applies. The adoption will only go through if both states approve.

Last year, however, a Reuters investigation uncovered evidence that some families find ways of getting around ICPC. Known as “child exchange” or as “private re-homing,” Reuters revealed that adoptive parents were advertising children they no longer wanted through online bulletin boards. When the Reuters story surfaced in September 2013, no state (or the federal government) specifically prohibited this practice.

Reuters Investigation Spurs Some to Action

The Reuters investigation revealed that most private re-homings involve children adopted internationally. Because the United States generally does not follow up on foreign adoptions, some countries have made the process more difficult. Today the number of international adoptions is significantly lower than just a decade ago. But while foreign adoptees have been “exchanged” more frequently, domestic adoptees are at risk, too.

Although the underground re-homing market remains largely unregulated, the Reuters investigation spurred some states to action. Wisconsin, Louisiana, Colorado, and Florida increased restrictions on advertising and transferring child custody (Illinois has held hearings, but no law has been passed). Some federal government officials might also be compelled to act after the Senate Subcommittee on Children and Families recently held hearings on the practice.

Child Exchanges Via a Power of Attorney Transfer

Private re-homing is both cheaper and less time-consuming than the adoption process. It is also more dangerous. Legal adoptions require background checks, home inspections, and training for adoptive parents. Private re-homing simply requires an Internet connection. Without regulation, children can end up in abusive homes or with parents who lack the means to properly care for them.

A child often exchanges hands via a power of attorney document, which is a notarized statement declaring that another adult will care for the child. In some cases, transfer of custody can benefit the child. For example, if a child’s parents are going through hard times, then they might entrust their son or daughter with a relative, who would then have the legal authority to enroll the child in school or secure government benefits on his or her behalf.

The Reuters investigation revealed that some people involved in the underground re-homing market abused the purpose underlying the power of attorney transfer. In those cases, instead of serving as a stopgap, the power of attorney document acted as an illegal transfer of custody.

 Pursuing a Legal Adoption

While private re-homing is not expressly illegal in Illinois, our state does adhere to ICPC. We understand that the adoption process can be overwhelming, not to mention arduous and expensive. But there is no need to seek such back channels. Contact us today for a consultation. We will be beside you every step of the way to ensure your adoption process – whether you are putting a child up for adoption or you want to adopt a child – goes as smoothly and quickly as possible. Our experienced Illinois adoption attorneys can assist those in the St. Charles area.
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