exposing the dark side of adoption
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The Child Exchange: Inside America's Underground Market for Adopted Children


The Child Exchange: Inside America's Underground Market for Adopted Children

Part 1 The Network
Americans use the Internet to abandon children adopted from overseas 
A look at the kids offered on a Yahoo group
Part 2 The Dangers 
In a shadowy online network, a pedophile takes home a ‘fun boy’
International adoptions: frequently asked questions
Part 3 The Middlemen
With blind trust and good intentions, amateurs broker children online
For desperate parents, ‘there was no other option’
Part 4 The Failures
Despite ‘grave danger,’ government allows Internet forums to go unchecked
Q&A: addressing abuses in private re-homings
Part 5 The Survivors
Orphaned in Russia, brought to America, and then abandoned time and again
A Chinese girl is moved to Tennessee, and ‘hell’ beginsAbout the series

Reuters investigative reporter Megan Twohey spent 18 months examining how American parents use the Internet to find new families for children they regret adopting. Reporters identified eight online bulletin boards where participants advertised unwanted children, often international adoptees, as part of an informal practice that's called "private re-homing." Reuters data journalist Ryan McNeill worked with Twohey and reporter Robin Respaut to analyze 5,029 posts from one of the bulletin boards, a Yahoo group called Adopting-from-Disruption.

Separately, Reuters examined almost two dozen cases from across the United States in which adopted children were privately re-homed. Twohey reviewed thousands of pages of records, many of them confidential, from law enforcement and child welfare agencies. In scores of interviews, reporters talked with parents who gave away or took in children, the facilitators who helped them, organizations that participated in re-homing, and experts concerned about the risks posed to the children and the legality of the custody transfers. Twohey also interviewed children themselves. They talked about being brought to America, discarded by their adoptive parents and moved from home to home.

The Child Exchange: a Reuters investigation

By Megan Twohey

Data analysis: Ryan McNeill, Janet Roberts

Additional reporting: Robin Respaut, Ryan McNeill

Web programming: Charlie Szymanski

Graphics: Matthew Weber, Maryanne Murray

Video: Zachary Goelman

Photo editor: Jim Bourg

Design: Troy Dunkley

Series editor: Blake Morrison


NBC Investigations Coverage of stories

9-09-13 Inside America's underground network for adopted children

9-09-13 Adopted girl says mother forced her to dig her own grave

9-10-13 Unwanted adopted children traded online in underground network

9-10-13 Adopted girl says new 'mom' slept naked with her

9-11-13 Adopted girl: 'My parents didn't want me. I didn't want to live.'


Reuters follow-up

09-13-13 Journalist spotlight: Megan Twohey on her investigative series on “The Child Exchange”

09-13-13 Governments call on U.S. to track foreign adoptees

09-25-13 China adoption agency furious over 'child exchange' report

10-29-13 U.S. Lawmakers Call for Action to Curb Internet Child Trading

03-21-14 Girl spent months harboring secret, fearing she would be sent away again


[Cases on PPL which are part of this story]
Nora Gateley
18 Children in care of Tom and Debra Schmitz
Inga Whatcott
Children sent to Nicole and Calvin Eason
Quita Puchalla (Quita Davis)
10 year old Boy adopted by Glenna Mueller

Anna Barnes
8 year old California girl
Dmitri Stewart
Boy adopted by Tom and Misty Mealey

2013 Sep 9