Unregulated Custody Transfer (or “rehoming”) of adopted children

The State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues is concerned about the Unregulated Custody Transfer (or “rehoming”) of adopted children. Ambassador Susan Jacobs, Special Advisor for Children’s Issues, convened a working group to study the issue of unregulated custody transfer (or “rehoming”) soon after the 2013 publication of Reuters’ “The Child Exchange.” Comprised of the Departments of State, Justice, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security/U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), as well as the Association of Administrators of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children and the Attorney General from Utah, the group is seeking a fuller picture of the breadth of the issue and working on strategic initiatives aimed at intervention and prevention.

Collectively and individually, the working group:

  • Monitors state and federal legislation on Unregulated Custody Transfer.
    • HR 2068: Protecting Adopted Children Act
    • NAAG Survey of State Laws – completed in June 2015, the report revealed that all 50 states have existing child welfare or adoption laws that could be used to address Unregulated Custody Transfer.
    • States with Rehoming Laws: Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Wisconsin
  • Is exploring ways to improve pre-adoption training and post-adoption supports for families adopting through intercountry adoption.
  • Raises awareness about Unregulated Custody Transfer through outreach to Congress, adoption stakeholders, child welfare professionals, and the general public.
  • Facilitates communication and information-sharing among those who are working on the issue.

What can advocates do?

  • Email adoption@state.gov with observations about Unregulated Custody Transfers, involving children originally adopted through intercountry.
  • Consider how you can include intercountry adoption issues and families in your work on domestic adoption issues. Children adopted through intercountry adoption have more in common with children adopted through foster care than ever before.
  • Distinguish between Unregulated Custody Transfer and secondary placement. Unregulated custody transfer refers to when a parent or parents places their child into the custody of another parent or family without the involvement and oversight of appropriate authorities, who can assess the best interests of the child and take steps to ensure the child’s safety and welfare.
  • Discuss “rehoming” as an activity that places children at risk.
  • Share information about state and local resources that are accessible to all adoptive families, including international, experiencing difficulty, by emailing adoption@state.gov.

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