Congressmen Marino, Langevin Introduce Bipartisan “Safe Home” Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Representatives Tom Marino (R-PA) and Jim Langevin (D-RI) introduced bipartisan legislation to protect adopted children from being “rehomed.” The Safe Home Act would close a loophole in existing federal law by clarifying that the abandonment of an adopted child with a stranger, known as rehoming, is a form of child abuse.
Reuters brought national attention to rehoming in 2013, when it published an investigative series on adoptive parents who use Internet forums to advertise children they wish to abandon. Transferring custody outside of legal adoption practices often places children at risk for neglect, exploitation, or even sexual abuse. However, state child welfare authorities have reported that they are unsure whether they can investigate rehoming cases because rehoming is not explicitly defined as a form of child abuse.
The Safe Home Act adds rehoming to the federal definition of child abuse and neglect under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), reducing legal ambiguity and allowing states to use federal funds to counter the practice. The bill protects a parent’s ability to place their children with a trusted relative when appropriate but ensures they cannot transfer custody to a stranger without the oversight of the child welfare system. It was based in part on findings from members of the National Working Group on Unregulated Child Transfers (rehoming).
Rep. Marino said the following regarding the introduction of the bill:
“As the father of two adopted children I can think of nothing more important than making sure minors in the child welfare system are protected. By classifying rehoming as a form of child abuse, The Safe Home Act gives our nations child welfare authorities what they need to investigate these cases. This is a common-sense piece of legislation and I look forward to working with my colleagues to move this bill forward.”
Rep. Langevin said the following:
“Rehoming is a frightening phenomenon that is made all the more tragic when child welfare authorities are unable to intervene on an adopted child’s behalf, the Safe Home Act will clarify that rehoming is an abusive practice and will ensure our frontline child defenders have tools to keep adopted children safe and go after those who put them at risk.”
Congressman Marino is currently serving his fourth term in the House of Representatives. He serves as Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law and also sits on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.