Eighteen-year-old Nita Durand is a seemingly well-adjusted, young woman living on her own. But for years, she struggled after being passed from one adopted family to another in an act known as "re-homing." Durand recalls one instance where she was woken up at 3 in the morning, told to shower, pack her belongings and was placed on an airplane to Ohio.
As a child adopted from Haiti, Durand was shuffled between families in Ohio and Idaho over four years. While in Marysville, she lived at times with Jean Paul and Emily Kruse - now under investigation for sexual abuse and intimidation. She was one of 11 kids in the house.
"I kind of stood up and I was like, ‘I don't really like how you are treating us,’” Nita recalls. “I think me speaking up was like the worst thing I did, because things got worse and worse.”
According to Union County court records, the family would never tell her where she was going and, "did not permit her to pack her clothing or other belongings."
Several of the kids living in the house were the biological children of Emily Kruse and Chad Coutts, from their previous marriage. Coutts says he fought for years to get custody of them, after finding his own daughter was abused and witnessing other children disappear. “When I asked my kids about it, they specifically told me, 'well, we don't know. He was here, he didn't get along with mom, and now he's gone.’”
In most re-homing cases, there are no official records of the custody transfers - neither with the courts nor children services. Often, it's with a quick sign of the pen by an attorney to allow the transfer, which causes children to essentially fall off the map.
John Gore, Executive Director at the Union County Department for Jobs & Family Services, says local authorities don’t even know it exists. “There could very well have been a number of people transferred - a number of kids transferred from anywhere - that none of us know anything about.”
Gore says Union County's Children Services only learned about the Kruse case after the allegations of abuse surfaced.
Currently, there are no federal or state laws to prevent re-homing, but there are people working to change that. In Ohio, State Senator Charleta Tavares introduced a bill in March that would ban re-homing and create a court registry for adopted kids.