Facebook Reacts to Recent State Bans on Rehoming Adoptions

Facebook has announced it will disable an adoption page in an effort to comply with the growing number of states that are passing laws banning the controversial practice of rehoming.  Rehoming, which involves transferring adopted children over the internet without any official procedure, is gaining attention of state legislatures across the country and Facebook has responded by removing a page that rehoming parents use to connect with each other.

States Ban Rehoming Practice

Rehoming occurs when adoptive parents decide that a child is not a good fit for whatever reason and contacts another couple on the internet to exchange the child without formal oversight. The process gained national attention after a number of investigative reports aired on media outlets over the last couple of years, and state legislatures have taken notice.  According to media investigations, rehoming can place adopted children, particularly ones from foreign countries, in dangerous situations because the rehomed families are not monitored by adoption authorities. 

A recent memorandum published by the DC-based organization Center for Adoption Policy summarizes a number of state laws passed in Wisconsin, Colorado, Louisiana, Florida, and Virginia.  Although the laws differ in structure and scope, the majority of them prohibit any advertisement about rehoming and the actual practice of conducting an adoption without going through proper channels of authority.  Since the publication of the memo, Arkansas has reportedly passed a similar bill that prohibits unauthorized rehoming adoptions, and many other states are considering similar laws.

Most of the laws on the books make the process a felony, but some, such as the Arkansas law, creates a safe harbor from prosecution for situations where the adopted child is destructive and the adopted parent has exhausted all legal and reasonable options.  Because all of the laws outlaw advertising rehoming, Facebook has taken action to limit use of its social media services to advance the practice.

Facebook Removes Rehoming Page

Last week, a report by the London-based UK Channel 4 news announced that Facebook intends to close its Adoption Through Disruption webpage.  The page serves as a directory of advertisements for the re-adoption of children who are not fitting in with their adopted parents where interested couples can connect with children who need a new home.  The page regularly updates with photos of adopted children who need to be relocated, and provides a lengthy synopsis of the child’s personality and ideal new fit.  The site makes it clear that it complies with all local adoption laws when transferring the children, however, because many of the new rehoming legislation bans the practice of advertising re-adoptions the webpage will likely conflict. 

Facebook’s Adoption Through Disruption page is still operating as many of the rehoming laws have yet to take effect, however, it appears the company intends to simply shut down the site rather than make an effort to comply with the growing movement by states to put a stop to unauthorized transfers of adopted children.  Given the growing attention paid to concerns about adopted children being rehomed to dangerous or destructive environments, Facebook is not the only organization that will need to make changes in the near future.

Adoption Process May Face Additional Changes

As rehoming becomes more of a concern, adoption agencies, particularly ones with international connections may have their adoption process scrutinized more closely.  Parents who adopt foreign-born children are also likely going to be encouraged to connect with out-of-country agencies by working with local or state adoption agencies to ensure they and the child are properly vetted to maximize the chance of a good fit.  Because of the widespread network of rehoming already in place, the process of banning or even limiting it will likely be long and logistically difficult for state and local authorities, so concerned organizations, governments, and adoption agencies may also turn attention to reducing the number of disruptive adoptions by improving pre-adoptive procedures.

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