"Re-homing" is NOT Kinship Care
Reviewing the feedback from this urgent petition, people are right to want a distinction between "re-homing" and kinship care.
"Re-homing" is the phenomenon of adoptive parents giving their children to unlicensed, un-vetted strangers who they find on the Internet. Sometimes this private transfer is facilitated by an intermediary who is also a stranger.
Kinship care is the full time care, nurturing and protection of children by relatives, members of their tribes or clans, or other adults who have a family relationship to a child. The practice of kin parenting children when their parents cannot is a time-honored tradition in most cultures and is almost always the preferable permanency option when a child cannot safely remain with their parents. Kinship care arrangements vary and may be made between and among family members or, alternately, may involve child welfare agencies. The most common type of kinship care is informal, in which the family decides that the child will live with kin.
Meeting a child’s needs apart from their parents yet with their kin provides a strong foundation upon which a loving, caring relationship has a firm footing and can flourish. This foundational kinship bond is created by the preexisting knowledge of the child, a shared family history, and common community roots and family experiences. For more than 20 years, CWLA has been at the forefront of identifying, defining, and supporting the vital care-giving of children by relatives and other kin.
On the other hand, child "re-homing" is an abhorrent practice that should never occur. Parents who feel overwhelmed, underprepared and ill-equipped to continue raising their child manipulate private custody transfers to dispose of the child to strangers. That they use a power-of-attorney to transfer custody to strangers is a perversion of the intention to allow such transfers for informal kinship care. Rather than safely selecting an alternate caregiver who will enhance the child’s well-being, these parents are putting their child at serious risk for exploitation and abuse.
It is critical for parents to have supports and options for selecting the best caregivers for their children. The involvement of kin can stabilize family situations, ensure the protection of children, preserve family relationships and prevent the need to separate children from their families and place them in the formal child welfare system. In many cases, kinship care could be the answer for parents who consider the dangerous route of “re-homing.”
We cannot jeopardize the essential practice of kinship care, just as we cannot let parents privately transfer custody of their children to strangers. We must preserve the practice of kinship care-giving as we protect children from “re-homing.” Sign this petition to call on the federal government to take action.