Some participants in that group both offered and sought children for re-homing, sometimes simultaneously. Others looked to offload more than one child at a time.
The Easons were elated. They were about to get a child, for free.
Part of the allure of re-homing is that the process is far cheaper than formal adoptions. Adopting from a foreign country can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Taking custody through re-homing often costs nothing. In fact, taking a child may enable the new family to claim a tax deduction and draw government benefits. The Easons view re-homing as a way around a prying government, and a way to take a child inexpensively.
"If you don't want to pay $35,000 for a kid," Nicole Eason says today, "you take your chances."
After learning what Reuters found, Yahoo acted swiftly. Within hours, it began shutting down Adopting-from-Disruption, the six-year-old bulletin board. A spokeswoman said the activity in the group violated the company's terms-of-service agreement. The company subsequently took down five other groups that Reuters brought to its attention.
A similar forum on Facebook, Way Stations of Love, remains active. A Facebook spokeswoman says the page 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."
When I first heard about parents trying to find someone else to re-adopt their children I was horrified and disgusted. How irresponsible? How incredibly traumatizing for the children? But then a friend and fellow psychologist told me how successful many of these second adoptions are, and I was intrigued. Could the first adoptive parents really be doing the child a favor by finding a better family?
"One of the most valuable things I think about this project is I worked with our database team. We basically did a deep dive on one of the Yahoo groups where this - it's called re-homing - activity takes place. And we scraped all 5,000 messages going back five years and built a database where we were able to quantify what was going on. We logged every single offer of a child that was being made over a 5-year period and we found that on average a child was being offered up once a week."
Twohey added, "It's interesting to note too that the term ‘re-homing’ was first used to describe people seeking new owners for their pets. And some of the ads read remarkably similar to the ads that you'd see for people trying to find a new home for their pet. Some of the ads would describe kids as being obedient, eager to please, or talk about them being pretty."
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