Wisconsin has become the first state in the United States to ban private custody transfers of adopted children without judicial approval.
The law, which requires all parents to undergo a judicial review prior to transferring custody of an adopted child, was drafted in order to stop the “unregulated trade of adopted minors in the state,” Time reports.
The legislation was introduced as a direct result of a Reuters investigation that detailed the so-called “re-homing” practice, finding that adults were transferring custody of adopted children illegally after finding each other on the Internet via various social networking sites. The report detailed several cases of young children who have been placed in the care of abusive adults as a result of these unofficial transfers.
Violators of the new legislation, which was signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday, face up to nine months in jail or $10,000 in fines.
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Wisconsin hopes that other states will take note of the new law, and thus far Ohio, Colorado and Florida each have introduced versions of similar legislation.
"The Reuters report outlined massive pitfalls in current law that allowed children to be advertised on social networks on the Internet. With virtually no oversight, children could literally be traded from home to home. In Wisconsin, that is now against the law. Hopefully citizens of the country will follow our lead," said State Rep. Joel Kleefisch, sponsor of the legislation.
A bipartisan group of 18 Congress members is currently seeking hearings for ways to address this issue at the federal level.