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Life in America, she says, "turned into a nightmare. The visit lasted just a few hours. Download the audio here Melissa helped Quita unpack and hugged her goodbye. In the alert, Pennypacker asked that such cases be documented and reported to the national non-profit organization that oversees the ICPC. When Melissa Puchalla called the school Quita was supposed to attend, chat en ligne ado, she talked with an administrator who then contacted state child protection officials.

They were eager to take Quita, even though the ad warned that she had been diagnosed with severe health and behavioral problems. In emails, Nicole Eason assured Melissa Puchalla that she could handle the girl. A few weeks later, on Oct. No attorneys or child welfare officials came with them. The visit lasted just a few hours. It was the first and the last time the couples would meet. To Melissa Puchalla, the Easons "seemed wonderful. They say they did nothing wrong, and neither was charged. Nicole slept naked, she says.

When she called the school that Quita was supposed to attend, an administrator told Puchalla that the teenager had never shown up. The Easons had packed up their purple Chevy truck and driven off with her, leaving behind a pile of trash, a pair of blue mattresses and two puppies chained in their yard, authorities later found. The Puchallas had rescued Quita from an orphanage in Liberia, brought her to America and then signed her over to a couple they barely knew.

Days later, they had no idea what had become of her. When she arrived in the United States, Quita says, she "was happy … coming to a nicer place, a safer place. Like Quita, now 21, these children are often the casualties of international adoptions gone sour.

Through Yahoo and Facebook groups, parents and others advertise the unwanted children and then pass them to strangers with little or no government scrutiny, sometimes illegally, a Reuters investigation has found. It is a largely lawless marketplace. Often, the children are treated as chattel, and the needs of parents are put ahead of the welfare of the orphans they brought to America. The practice is called "private re-homing," a term typically used by owners seeking new homes for their pets.

Based on solicitations posted on one of eight similar online bulletin boards, the parallels are striking. A woman who said she is from Nebraska offered an year-old boy she had adopted from Guatemala.

Another parent advertised a child days after bringing her to America. On average, a child was advertised for re-homing there once a week. Most of the children ranged in age from 6 to 14 and had been adopted from abroad — from countries such as Russia and China, Ethiopia and Ukraine. The youngest was 10 months old. After learning what Reuters found, Yahoo acted swiftly. Within hours, it began shutting down Adopting-from-Disruption, the six-year-old bulletin board.

The company subsequently took down five other groups that Reuters brought to its attention. A similar forum on Facebook, Way Stations of Love, remains active. A Facebook spokeswoman says the page shows "that the Internet is a reflection of society, and people are using it for all kinds of communications and to tackle all sorts of problems, including very complicated issues such as this one.

Speaking publicly about her experience for the first time, one girl adopted from China and later sent to a second home said she was made to dig her own grave. Another re-homed child, a Russian girl, recounted how a boy in one house urinated on her after the two had sex; she was 13 at the time and was re-homed three times in six months. Legal adoptions must be handled through the courts, and prospective parents must be vetted. But there are ways around such oversight. Children can be sent to new families quickly through a basic "power of attorney" document — a notarized statement declaring the child to be in the care of another adult.

In many cases, this flexibility is good for the child. It allows parents experiencing hard times to send their kids to stay with a trusted relative, for instance.

But with the rise of the Internet, parents are increasingly able to find complete strangers willing to take in unwanted children. By obtaining a power of attorney, the new guardians are able to enroll a child in school or secure government benefits — actions that can effectively mask changes of custody that take place illegally outside the purview of child welfare authorities.

Interactive Explore an online child market You are using an outdated browser and cannot view this interactive. Please upgrade your browser or activate Google Chrome Frame to improve your experience. There is one potential safeguard: The agreement requires that if a child is to be transferred outside of the family to a new home in a different state, parents notify authorities in both states.

That way, prospective parents can be vetted. The compact has been adopted by every state and is codified in various statutes that give it the force of law. Even so, these laws are seldom enforced, in part because the compact remains largely unknown to law enforcement authorities. Some states attach criminal sanctions — generally, misdemeanors.

A child might be removed from the new home if an illegal re-homing is discovered. But seldom is either set of parents punished. No state, federal or international laws even acknowledge the existence of re-homing. At least 70 percent of the children offered on the Yahoo bulletin board, Adopting-from-Disruption, were advertised as foreign-born. Americans have adopted about , children from other countries since the late s. But unlike parents who take in American-born children through the U.

No authority tracks what happens after a child is brought to America, so no one knows how often international adoptions fail. Some experts say the percentage could be higher given the lack of support for those parents. The State Department then collects that information. In addition, adoption agencies are supposed to report to the department certain types of failed international adoptions that come to their attention.

But many states say they are unable to keep track of the cases because their computer systems are antiquated. The failure to keep track of what happens after children are brought to America troubles some foreign governments.

So do instances of neglect or abuse that become known. Often cited is the case of the Tennessee woman who returned a 7-year-old boy she adopted from a Russian orphanage. The woman had cared for him only six months when she put the boy on a flight to Moscow in April He was accompanied by a typed letter that read in part, "I no longer wish to parent this child.

Other nations, including Guatemala and China, have also made the process more difficult. As a result, the number of foreign-born children adopted into the United States has declined from a peak of almost 23, in to fewer than 10, a year today.

The recent obstacles to bringing new kids to America could make the Internet child exchange even more appealing. We have disrupted our daughter. What business of the Russian government? Parents who offer their children on the Internet say they have limited options. The problems — and the isolation parents feel — can prove overwhelming.

On the bulletin boards, parents talk of children becoming abusive and violent, terrorizing them and other kids in the household.

I also knew there were people looking to adopt kids from those situations, so I wanted to get those people together, kind of like a clearinghouse. In a nationwide alert to state child welfare authorities, an administrator for the ICPC warned that adoptive parents were sending children to live with people they met on the Internet.

The practice, the official wrote , is "placing children in grave danger. In the alert, Pennypacker asked that such cases be documented and reported to the national non-profit organization that oversees the ICPC. He says he also told child protection officials in each state to alert their attorneys general, local police and social workers "so that people could be on the lookout. As part of its investigation, Reuters reviewed thousands of pages of records — many of them confidential — from court cases, police reports and child welfare agencies.

Reporters examined ads for children and emails between parents, and also identified eight Internet groups in which members discussed, facilitated or engaged in re-homing. Reporters then analyzed thousands of posts from the group that Yahoo subsequently shut down, Adopting-from-Disruption.

Some participants in that group both offered and sought children for re-homing, sometimes simultaneously. Others looked to offload more than one child at a time. Some sought new parents for children who already had been re-homed. A year-old boy from the Philippines and a year-old boy from Brazil each were advertised three times. So was a girl from Haiti. She was offered for re-homing when she was 14, 15 and 16 years old.

In an interview earlier this year, Nicole Eason - the woman who disappeared with Quita - referred to private re-homing as "non-legalized adoption. She discussed why she was so motivated to be a mother. And she described her parenting style this way: Melissa Puchalla says she sobbed after leaving Quita with the Easons, the couple she met on the Internet.

You need a hug? You need a kiss? Somebody to tickle with you? But this world is not meant to be perfect. It shows how virtually anyone determined to get a child can do so with ease, and how children brought to America can be abruptly discarded and recycled. Like Quita, Calvin Eason is black. Nicole is white, and Puchalla thought Quita might thrive in a mixed-race household.

The Puchallas also say they were giving up the teenager to protect their other children. Quita was unpredictable and violent, Melissa says, and her siblings had grown frightened of her.

Puchalla assured her daughter that the Easons were "very good people," Quita remembers.

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