When adoptions in the U.S. go sour, some desperate families turn to an underground network of Internet message boards to find new homes for their children -- sometimes with disastrous results.
In a series of stories published this week, an investigative team at Reuters has detailed a practice known as "private re-homing" in which parents connect through the Internet to transfer custody of children beyond the view of child welfare officials in the states where they live. Many of the cases involve international adoptions and children with health problems or other special needs.
Minnesota has more international adoptions per capita than any other state.
Here is one typical message, apparently from a Minnesota family, from the message boards Reuters looked at:
"Hello- [name redacted] is our 12 year old blonde hair/blue eyed adopted son. He is an extremely bright young man with a lot of energy and a great sense of humor. Unfortunately, [name redacted] has never attached to us and has expressed his desire to find a new family. What's worse is that we have another son that [name redacted] does not get along with. Our sons are incapable of working on their issues individually because of their constant struggle living together. We are looking for a home for [name redacted]. We love him, but feel that this is the best option for our family. We live in Minnesota. Thank you."
The Reuters series is called "The Child Exchange".
Phil Picardi talked to Reuters Investigations Editor Blake Morrison about the series.