Republican Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker signed a landmark law today that will restrict the private transfer of adopted children who, because they were no longer wanted, were “re-homed” by unscrupulous parents. This is the first law in the United States that protects unwanted adopted children from the completely “unregulated practice” which have resulted in children being taken by pedophiles or transferred to multiple homes without appropriate oversight for their welfare. Currently, and rather surprisingly there are no federal laws that prevent the practice of re-homing.
The fact that the transferring of adopted children has not been previously restricted is inexcusable given the nation’s proclaimed concern for the welfare of minors. In this case, child advocates on both a state and national level have failed adopted children and Governor Walker is to be commended for stepping up in their defense, at least at the state level. President Obama should follow Walker’s example and carry this to the federal level immediately.
The issue was brought to the fore by the news organization, Reuters, which launched a major investigation called “The Child Exchange” into the repugnant and reprehensible practice. Based upon in-depth research Reuters determined that many of these children were being transferred via the internet, a fact that is both sad and shocking and one can only imagine the level of psychological damage these “unwanted” children have suffered.
According to the sponsor of the legislation, Wisconsin Republican Representative Joel Kleefisch, Reuters was able to identity “massive pratfalls” in state law, which allowed unwanted adopted children to be “advertised” on social media sites, and in classifieds. With the advent of the new law, it is now illegal for any person “not licensed by the state” to transfer or re-home a child over the age of one year and the advertising of adopted children on the internet – sometimes via sites like Craigslist – or in print mediums is prohibited.
However, given the apparent character flaws of these “parents” it is likely they will find another way to dispose of their unwanted children and not only do child advocates need to step up their role as watchdogs but the vetting process of prospective parents may need to be revised as well.
Sadly, while perhaps some of these unwanted adopted children were better off with their new “parents” too many of them were transferred to child abusers, sexual predators and even foster homes looking to beef up their financial bottom line with additional juvenile bodies.
One such child was re-homed four times and then her last “family” kicked her out because she disclosed the sexual abuse of other children in the home. In that case, the father was charged with the rapes of two “daughters” and the sexual abuse of another while the mother was charged with obstructing justice.
Provisions for children under the age of one year are not included in the new law, which seems to be a judicial oversight and it remains to be seen how that demographic is affected by re-homing. However, in order to transfer an unwanted child older than one year to someone who is not immediate family, custodial adults in Wisconsin must now obtain the approval of a judge before transferring custody. If they do not go through the correct legal channels and do attempt to dispose of these children via the adoption black market, they will be charged with a $10,000 fine and up to nine months in jail.
The passing of the Wisconsin law is certainly a much-needed step in the protection of unwanted adopted children. The law will serve to restrict the transfer of these children to other “parents” by unscrupulous adults who clearly have no regard for their welfare. However, the punishment for such despicable behavior seems a light sentence indeed for these seemingly heartless, self-centered poor excuses for parents.
Opinion By Alana Marie Burke
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