Rehoming is the non-legal term referring to the practice of placing an adopted child in another family’s home. This is typically a situation occurring outside of the scope of the law, legal professionals, or child welfare agencies and/or practitioners. High profile cases of rehoming have brought media attention to this practice. For example, in 2015 Arkansas Republican Representative Justin Harris and his wife, Marsha, came under scrutiny for rehoming the two sisters they adopted. One of the girls was repeatedly sexually abused her new ‘father.’ In 2010, Tennessee woman, Torry Hansen, sent her seven year-old adopted son alone on a flight back to Moscow. Her son was then met by a stranger, who she solicited on the internet and paid to take her son to the Russian Education and Science Ministry. The child remains in Russia although he is an American citizen and, under Tennessee law, still considered to be Hansen’s son.
Some statistics estimate that up to 5 percent of adoptions are dissolved, where the parent-child relationship is severed after the adoption is finalized. However, because rehoming occurs outside of the law, accurate statistics on this practice are unknown.
Rehoming is among one of the worst case scenarios for adoption and points to the need for more pre-adoption training for parents and post-adoption services for both parents and children. Parents who have rehomed their children often cite the lack of services or the cost of services as barriers to keeping their children. Additional post-adoption services would help ease the transition of older children and children with special needs, who are among the most frequently rehomed.
For an in-depth investigative series on rehoming, see:
- Reuters Investigates “The Child Exchange: Inside America’s Underground Market for Adopted Children.”