If you’ve ever heard of the term “rehoming,” you may connect it with people who are looking for new homes for their pets. However, there is a much more frightening definition that not many people know about. 

“Rehoming” is a term often used in situations where adoptive parents are trying to “get rid of” their adopted child. This can stem from behavioral and/or emotional issues from the adoptive child that the parents do not feel equipped to handle.

Most re-homing exchanges initially are made via the internet, through websites or forums. The majority of these rehoming exchanges are made by parents who adopted a child internationally. There is less follow-up/resources for these parents, so many of the parents have stated that they had nowhere to go or no one to reach out to for help regarding the issues they were having with their adopted child.

Although it seems like rehoming should be illegal, unfortunately, there aren’t many laws protecting children being given away to others. The problem with this is that many of the people who are taking these adopted children have criminal backgrounds or are psychologically unstable, putting the child at risk for emotional and sexual abuse, trafficking, or even death. Predators take advantage of adoptive parents who are emotionally burnt out, giving them an “out,” many times free of charge.

In 2013, Reuters Investigates did an article on the horrifying truth of rehoming, and a sickening situation involving an adopted teen, named Quita, from Liberia. The adoptive parents posted a description of this girl, including the fact that she had behavioral issues, and the adoptive mother was contacted by a woman (Nicole Eason) who made the situation seem “too good to be true.” The adoptive mother felt there was no other option, so she and her husband left Quita with this new couple, who they had no background information on, and made the exchange by signing a notarized document. No legal authorities were involved.

Come to find out, the people who took Quita had a past. Their biological children had been removed from their home. Children they had been babysitting had accused them of sexual abuse. They created a fake document to present to Quita’s parents, purportedly written by a social worker, stating that they were good parents.

The adoptive mother in this situation eventually stopped receiving calls/answers from the Easons, as well as emails. When she contacted the girl’s school, she was told Quita had never shown up. Authorities eventually tracked down the Easons and Quita in a different state. However, nothing happened to the couple, despite claims made by the Quita regarding how they lived and inappropriate sexual behaviors. All that happened was that Quita was sent back to Wisconsin, to go back to live with her original adopted parents.

Since nothing happened to the Easons, since they “legally” did nothing wrong, they are still out there, able to accept other children whose adoptive parents are looking to have them rehomed.

Unfortunately, this is one of hundreds, if not thousands, of real-life stories of what may happen when an adopted child is rehomed.

One of my favorite shows, Chicago P.D. (NBC), had an episode that focused on the issue of rehoming.  I won’t get into the details, but if you want to watch, it does stream on Hulu. It is heartbreaking. The episode is Season 5, episode 5, called “Home,” and puts into perspective the real danger that kids are put into when adoptive parents are desperate enough to give in to this type of exchange.

Most people are unaware of the horrible reality of rehoming.  But it is a real issue, and there has to be something more that can be done to protect these children. If you are an adoptive parent who is in a situation with a new adoptive child which seems unbearable, there are resources for you.