House Bill 63 was passed by the Ohio House today, which expands the crime of endangering children to prohibit a person from selling or transferring, or attempting to sell or transfer, a child for any value.
The bill, sponsored by State Representatives Dorothy Pelanda (R-Marysville) and Cheryl Grossman (R-Grove City), combats the latest form of human trafficking to emerge, which is the unregulated placement of an adopted child in another individual’s custody, also known as “re-homing.”
Re-homing occurs after a family adopts a child and then the parents no longer wish to keep the child because they are not integrating into their family. They then choose to re-home the child oftentimes by putting them on a website such as Amazon or eBay to find a new home for them.
While many have good intentions through re-homing and do it legally, it can open up a means for the child to end up in the hands of human traffickers.
“It is horrific to think that children are literally being advertised on the internet to be re-homed,” Grossman said. “I am pleased to joint sponsor this important legislation on behalf of protecting children.”
Since the legal guardian is not following the formal adoption process, a child can end up in the care of someone without any legal documentation necessary for guardianship. Without this proof of guardianship the child is then unable to enroll in school or receive any medical attention.
In Ohio, only through a legal pathway of parental consent, home assessment, and a filed petition can a minor be placed for adoption with a new parent. House Bill 63 simply establishes guidelines so that guardians follow this process when re-homing their child.
Should the proper steps not be taken to transfer custody, the legislation provides the potential for both the placer and receiver of the child to be charged with a felony.
“House Bill 63 is an instrumental step in combatting the latest form of human trafficking to emerge in Ohio,” Pelanda said. “I am pleased to see my colleagues move this needed legislation onto the Senate today.”
In addition to expanding the crime of child endangerment, HB 63 also requires pre-adoption training to include information about re-homing. The bill also encourages mandatory reporters and Children’s Services Agencies to investigate the potential of a child being in an individual’s care for more than a year without custody.
House Bill 63 was passed by the Ohio House unanimously and will now receive consideration from the Ohio Senate.