When a Wisconsin couple decided they didn't want the teenager they'd adopted from Liberia anymore, they advertised her online. Within two days they'd found a family to take 16-year-old Quita, an Illinois couple named Nicole and Calvin Eason. Had they vetted the Easons, they might have found, as Reuters did, that child welfare authorities had taken away their biological children, and that they'd been accused of sexual abuse. But instead they dropped Quita off at the Eason's mobile home. The first night, the couple told Quita to sleep in their bed—Nicole was naked—and within a few days, the entire family disappeared.
That story is the lead in Reuters' stunning, in-depth investigation into the practice of trading children online. On one Yahoo group, an average of one child a week was advertised for "re-homing" (the group has since been shuttered). Most were adopted from overseas, and are between the ages of 6 and 14. Custody is transferred via a simple, notarized power of attorney document, keeping child protection authorities out of the loop. The exchanges are often free but aren't always legal—particularly not if the child crosses state lines—but the laws are rarely enforced. When authorities found Quita in New York, they simply returned her to Wisconsin. The Easons weren't charged with any crime, and Nicole went on to take in another 10-year-old boy, who she picked up along with a man who was later convicted on child pornography charges. Quita's isn't the only horror story either:
- One girl adopted from China says the family that claimed her online forced her to dig her own grave.
- One Russian girl says she was passed between three families in six months. At one home, another boy urinated on her and had sex with her. She was 13.
For much, much more, read Reuters' full report