Last week, I was contacted privately by an individual who was familiar with “re-homing,” also through an Internet group that included the participation of adoptive parents, some of whom were seeking to get rid of their children, and prospective “parents” looking to procure them.
The person who contacted me is also an adoptive parent, appears to be a dedicated one, and largely regrets any cooperation she might have given to the “re-homing” process. But while she acknowledges the failures and the risks, she still believes there is justification for the attempts some make at abandoning children to others with power of attorney, largely from the perspective of a desperate parent with a dangerous or unmanageable adoptive child. Since she contacted me privately I will not identify her and will do my best to avoid referring to facts that might also do so. But I believe a portion of my response to her is relevant to a further examination of the issue of “re-homing” and how dangerous and utterly thoughtless it can be. So here it is:
I understand your position that not enough resources exist for adoptive parents who find themselves with children who have theretofore unknown problems (or ones hidden from them) that make them not only unmanageable, but also perhaps a danger to themselves and their families. Still, I have little sympathy for adoptive parents in this situation who resolve it by dumping their children (I will not use the phrase “re-homing” without mocking quotes) with strangers and in the most dangerous of potential circumstances.
Adoption is among the most profoundly sobering decisions a prospective parent can make. I’m sure you understand this better than I as you have actually taken this step and appear to be doing so with love and decency. In my view, no prospective parent should ever consider adoption without also having the resources to address every possible type of problem, foreseeable and unforeseeable. If an adopted child becomes a danger to themselves, the parents or other siblings, and must be removed from the parents’ home, then the parents need to be financially prepared to seek institutional care for them, if necessary, but not while disowning them. If the best interests of the child and the family both appear to be in dissolving the adoptive relationship, then it should be attempted only through a formal, legally recognized process.
You may not know well the tactics of predators who seek out children to exploit, harm or kill, but I can assure you that a “re-homing” platform is among the most powerful and gratifying vectors to what they would consider perfect victims. I say “perfect” because a predator could scarcely imagine a better scenario than parents desperate to pawn off an unwanted child- most likely a child who is emotionally and/or physically compromised to the point where they are virtually powerless to seek help or redress from any type of abuse. It is a fact that child predators, like all things that hunt, seek the path of least resistance and greatest security. The legal ability to abandon a vulnerable (indeed, perhaps even objectively unlikable) child to a complete stranger with a pro-forma legal document is the clearest imaginable example of those two favored circumstances.
This fact alone makes “rehoming” reckless, cruel, and thoroughly abhorrent, even without considering the less sensational risks of simply unprepared and hopeful parents accepting a “re-homed” child and being even less able to properly care for her or him. Within the “re-homing” universe, what is the incentive for the abandoning parent to be honest about the true extent of the child’s problems (or potential dangers to others) to begin with? The system is about dumping human beings on others, plain and simple. No one should get near it. You shouldn’t have either.
In a letter you shared with me, you rhetorically asked this question to the author of the original Reuters story: “Why are parents resorting to informal networking groups to help them with adoptions that are failing? Because there are no resources. Because of societies preconceived notions that these kids just need love, a good family, etc. and all will be well. Tell that to the mother who finds her daughter raping a sibling with a pencil, tell that to the father who finds out his daughter is giving blow jobs to his 4 year old. Tell that to the family who has to sleep with their bedroom doors locked because they fear for their lives.”
What I would tell a family in a situation like the ones you describe above is that they are still parents, not renters of human beings. They may have to lock doors. They may have to maintain distance between individuals within the house for the safety of everyone. They may have to very carefully seek out institutional care for their wounded child. They may have to seriously curtail or refine their own goals, dreams and priorities. I don’t claim to know the difficulty of parenting, either my own child or an adoptive one. But I know quite well to not make such a monumental decision without being ready to accept and deal with everything that might befall me- and the rest of my family- if I choose to do so.