“Online Adoption Swaps” – The Story of Quita Puchalla and its Legal Implications

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Our Pittsburgh Adoption Attorneys recently came across an article regarding an “Online Adoption Swap.” The story of a teenager named Quita Puchalla was among other children and teens’ stories come to light as a result of the Reuters investigation entitled “The Child Exchange: Inside America’s underground market for adopted children.” This investigation looked into the online market that currently exists for parents to “give up” their adopted children. The information regarding this “underground market” is startling.

Todd and Melissa Puchalla struggled for years raising their adopted teenage daughter, Quita, who was adopted from Liberia. The couple found new parents to adopt Quita in less than two days by posting an ad on the Internet. Quita’s new parents in Illinois, The Easons, had their own biological children taken away by child welfare authorities years earlier.

How does this “online adoption market” work? Through both Yahoo and Facebook groups, parents are advertising their unwanted children to strangers in the hopes that another family will take in their adopted child. This is done with little or no governmental scrutiny and is oftentimes illegal depending on the state’s laws.

Reuters Investigators learned that there is actually an underground network called “private re-homing.” Parents will put up ads for their adopted children that they can no longer take care of or handle hoping that another parent or parents will answer their advertisement. Some dangers associated with this, like in the case of Quita, is that the parents answering the ad could be unfit to raise the child or teen. Reuters investigation showed that nearly half of these children had some sort of special need.

The safeguard in place that is meant to protect against these types of things happening is the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, or the ICPC. This requires that if a child is to be transferred to a different state, parents who take in and give away the child must notify the authorities in both states. The problem with these adoptions is that after the online ad is answered and the child is transferred to new parents, these adoptions are not being recorded in violation of the ICPC. Thus, these are not “legally recognized” adoptions – yet they are happening with frequency throughout the United States.

If you are thinking about adoption – do it the right way! Contact our Western PA adoptionattorneys at Lisa Marie Vari & Associates, P.C.