Megan Twohey's exposé on rehoming adopted children exposes the negligent practices of adoptive parents who list their children on online forums in the hopes that another family will take the children in. The story repeatedly emphasizes that there is no state or private entity policing these online boards. Accordingly, adoption advocates have called out for more regulation. One advocate, Bill Blacquiere of Bethany Children Services, told the media he “believes there is a need for legislation” in this area.[1] Before agreeing with this knee-jerk reaction, we need to take a step back and examine what caused this problem in the first place.

These “black markets” in rehoming are the consequence of a stringent, nontransparent, and expensive adoption process. And these inefficiencies are the result of overregulation on the front end of adoption – effectively requiring adoptive parents to get a license to parent, a requirement we would never dream of imposing on bioparents. Elementary economics will tell you overregulation will lead to black markets, and that is exactly what has happened here. Rehoming is a quick – sometimes the same day – and free way to become a parent.

The message here? People who want to become parents, whether it is biologically, assisted by technology, or through adoption, do not want to go through a licensing procedure, wait 3 years, and spend $30,000 to do it. So they will create and turn to dangerous, unpoliced forums like rehoming boards, to accomplish parenthood. The more barriers we put in their way, the more creative they will become in getting around them, and the more dangerous it becomes for the children involved.

So when Mr. Blacquiere boasts that his agency is ahead of the regulation game by requiring 30 hours of training (20 more than is required by the Hague Convention), he is only feeding into the broken system. If he meant these boards need to be policed and regulated, then he is just helping generate an even more hidden system that will end up with even more devastating consequences for children than the current one. However, if he means there needs to be more deterrence in the form of penalizing parents who do not used a licensed intermediary to place children, then he has a point.

Back to economics. We have to ask ourselves who stands to gain from the changes people are calling for. If your agency is paid for a certain number of hours of training, wouldn't you advocate to require three times the amount too?



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