BOSTON – Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) voted in favor of legislation passed by the Senate on Thursday to address the unregulated practice of exchanging an adopted child, also called “re-homing.” Re-homing occurs when an adoptive parent, who feels they can no longer care for the child, posts an advertisement on the internet to pass the child on to another without any oversight.
“I fully support the action taken by the Senate to pass this legislation which closes existing loopholes that allow for the unsupervised transfer of adopted children to others,” said Sen. Moore. “The provisions of this legislation will ensure greater protections for our Commonwealth’s most vulnerable population—children.”
“This legislation will ensure that parents participating in an adoption are fully informed about the child’s physical and mental health, are given the proper tools to care and support these children, and if the adoption fails, create a safe process for the child to find a new family,” said the primary sponsor of the bill, Senator Jennifer Flanagan, (D-Leominster). “The re-homing of children is a dark reality of international adoption and we need to put an end to this unregulated practice to protect these vulnerable children.”
The bill directs the Department of Early Education and Care to create a uniform curriculum for adoptive parent applicants and requires families to receive pre-adoption training to foster understanding of trauma and behavioral health needs of adopted children. Adoption placement agencies will be required to provide information about the child’s mental, emotional and physical health to make an educated decision about the adoption. Post-adoption services will also be required under this bill to prevent the disruption of the placement.
The bill also creates an oversight process for families who can no longer take care of such children to ensure they are safely moved to another family under government regulation and through legal avenues. Penalties are included for parents who unlawfully place a child permanently in a new home.
“Children, who are often adopted from overseas and desperate for family connection and stability, can potentially end up in the hands of sexual predators with little more than a handshake between the original adoptive parent and the new individual or family,” stated Erin G. Bradley, Executive Director of the Children’s League of Massachusetts. “If safety of our children is a priority for the state, then this loophole must be closed.”
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.