LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate Committee on Families, Seniors and Human Services on Wednesday unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones to prohibit the practice of “rehoming” children.
Rehoming is the transferring of a child to another family on a permanent basis without the approval of the courts, oftentimes without a review or background check of the new family. The practice could be done with one’s own biological child or after a legal adoption has been finalized. Essentially, rehoming is the giving away of one’s child for the purpose of monetary gain.
“Children are not commodities. They cannot be sold in a simple transaction,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Selling children through this practice of rehoming has to stop.”
Senate Bills 923-926 would prohibit parents from transferring legal or physical custody of a child with the intent to permanently strip themselves of parental responsibility. If an unauthorized person is found to advertise for, solicit or recruit a child for adoption, they could be found guilty of a felony punishable by up to four years in prison.
“People are finding ways to make a profit by rehoming children, and we need to send the message that Michigan children are not for sale,” said Jones. “These children are being abandoned to people who could be pedophiles, abusers or sexual offenders.”
Several years ago, there was a case in Arkansas where a state representative rehomed his adopted daughters to the family of a man he fired from the daycare that he and his wife owned. The man the children were given to was later found guilty of raping the six-year-old girl and is now in prison.
“Rehoming is not a common practice, but it has the potential of being devastating to children who could end up being in homes of people who will hurt them,” Jones said. “We have to protect our children. They are our future.”
Under current state law, parents can temporarily transfer power of attorney of their children to another adult. This process could be used to make rehoming a possibility. SB 926 would prohibit a parent from knowingly and intentionally delegating their powers regarding the care and custody of their child for more than 180 days.
Jones’ bills now head to the full Senate for consideration. Similar bills have been introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives as House Bills 5626-5629 by Reps. Mike McCready, Tom Hooker and Hank Vaupel.