abuseIn a powerful expose, Reuters news reported on a relatively unknown, yet repugnant process called “private re-homing.”  Re-homing is an underground network of for adopted children. Often times, there are no attorneys or child welfare officials present. The current family simply signs a notarized statement declaring strangers to be the child’s new legal guardians. More often than not, it will be the first and the last time couples would meet.

In their series, Reuters reported upon a Tennessee woman who claimed her adoptive parents gave her away to new parents at age 14, she and 17 other adoptive kids in found her new home  “nightmarish” were sometimes forced to dig their own “graves” in the backyard and scrub the floor with toothbrushes.

My limited research revealed private re-homings often bypass the government, the only vetting of prospective families is done by parents who want to get rid of children. This practice increases the risk children could fall into the hands of dangerous people. For instance, Reuters found more than half of the children described as requiring some sort of special need. About 18 percent were said to have a history that included sexual or physical abuse, with some being re-homed into sexual predators.

Contrary to the conservative rosy view of adoption, the dark side of adoption is never mentioned.  In true adoption, there are many different players. And, like any other aspect of adoption, child welfare and placement is extremely complex, messy and a legal nightmare, not to mention the emotional and psychological fall-out. But re-homing children is abandonment. Unfortunately, re-homing remains largely unregulated and underreported. Also, it is not limited to international adoption, but permeates all forms of adoptive placement.

It is important to remember that we must “do no harm.” The Buddha’s advice to parents is clear – support your children to become generous, compassionate, virtuous, responsible, skilled and self-sufficient beings. Each moment presents us with an opportunity, and it is up to us, as individuals, to choose how we will think, speak, or act. Each of these actions will determine our happiness, not only in the moment but in the future. This is the basic teaching of karma, or cause and effect.

In these moments, we as a society, regardless of faith, must stand together to fight against such repugnant behavior.  Children, regardless of how good or bad they are, cannot be bartered among families.  We can and must do better than this. There must be a better way.