The state Senate is poised to take up legislation this week aimed at blocking the Internet-enabled practice of “re-homing” — families passing off, without oversight, adopted, usually troubled children they can no longer handle.
The bill imposes fines of $5,000 to $25,000 for advertising children for re-homing and sentences of up to 20 years in prison for actually placing children.
“You have those that will say, ‘Well, they’re well-intentioned people, they’re trying to help the child,’ ” said state Senator Jennifer Flanagan, a Leominster Democrat who is sponsoring the legislation. “No. When you go through the adoption process, and you take in a child, one, you have a responsibility to find out what the child’s needs are, and two, you cannot just hand off a child to someone in a parking lot.”
Those who engage in re-homing, according to an investigative series published by Reuters two years ago, often adopt from overseas and find themselves unable to manage the children’s unanticipated emotional problems.
The legislation before the state Senate would require agencies facilitating adoptions to present information, to the best of their ability, on children’s mental, emotional, behavioral, and physical health. It would also require them to provide post-adoption services.
One concern, highlighted in the Reuters series, is that pedophiles are sometimes attracted to the practice of re-homing, seeing an easy way to take custody of a child.
Flanagan discussed the legislation with State House reporters Tuesday via speakerphone, calling in to a regular roundtable discussion Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg hosts for the media.
Rosenberg spoke on several other subjects.
He said fantasy sports websites such as DraftKings, which have faced questions about insider dealing in recent weeks, should be regulated and taxed.
He also said the Senate will decide by Thanksgiving whether to proceed with charter school legislation, or leave it to voters to decide on a proposed ballot measure raising the cap on the number of charter schools permitted in the state.
He suggested his preference is to develop comprehensive legislation that would address not just a potential cap-lift, but some of the concerns charter school critics have raised over the years. Too often, he said, those concerns are deferred amid periodic moves to raise the cap.
“The conversation is always the same,” he said. “This may be really great for certain places, but it’s causing problems in other places. And each time, it’s said, ‘We’ll get back to that and we’ll try to figure out a solution to those problems later. Vote to raise the cap now.’ ”
The Senate president added that he expects the Legislature to wait for an outside review of the state’s criminal justice system before proceeding with a proposal to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes.
He said the review, by The Council of State Governments, is expected to be ready in about six months.