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Louisiana governor signs bill to outlaw 're-homing' of children

It sounds like something out of an episode of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," but sadly, it's happening here in Louisiana. People are transferring custody of their adopted children to people they connect with online because they no longer want them or are unable to deal with them. It's known as "re-homing."

The number of children who have been "re-homed" is anyone's guess because it is done privately, outside the legal system. However, an investigation by Reuters last year found eight groups on the Internet aimed at matching potential adoptive parents with those who wanted to give their children up. One Yahoo group, which the company has since removed, offered an average of one child each week to strangers over five years. Nearly three-quarters of these children, according to the descriptions, were adopted from outside the U.S.

Gov. Bobby Jindal is seeking to end this practice in Louisiana. This month he signed a law that would prohibit parents from transferring custody of their children to anyone outside the family without approval by a court. In signing the law, Gov. Jindal said, "It is almost unthinkable, but these sales and transfers of children are actually happening in our state." He noted that Louisiana can now "prosecute these heinous acts to the fullest extent of the law." That could include up to five years behind bars as well as a fine of $5,000.

Although this practice is certainly not limited to Louisiana, our state is one of only a few that has taken legal steps to try to stop it. Four others have prohibited or restricted advertising and/or custody transfers of minors outside the court system.

For many people desperately seeking to adopt a child, the bureaucratic and legal red tape can seem overwhelming. It may be tempting to hasten the process by handling it directly. However, these processes are in place to protect the safety and best interests of the children involved and to help ensure as much as possible that the adoption is right for everyone, including the parents. People seeking to adopt should always consult with a family law attorney who can guide them through the process and help make sure that everything is handled legally.

Source: KFGO, "Louisiana curbs private custody transfers of children" Jonathan Kaminsky, Jun. 20, 2014

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