The process of re-homing is a difficult journey for adopted children. They are sometimes passed from one house to the next, without state involvement. There are currently no laws regulating the practice, but a change may be on the horizon.
Eighteen-year-old Nita Durand was born in the poverty-stricken country of Haiti. She says she thought all her problems would be washed away when she was adopted by a family in the U.S.
However, little did she know, those problems would only intensify.
She says she was abused, along with other adopted children, while living at a home in Marysville. “I've gotten hit all over, like in my face, my hand, my legs,” Durand recalls.
Miles away, Jody Bernardo was adopted from China to a family in Columbus, but did not like the family she was placed with.
Mistreated in that house, she says she was shuffled from home to home until ending up in Cleveland with a woman who she now lovingly calls "mom."
Jody’s “mom” – Mary Kaye Bernardo – says she knew something was wrong when Jody arrived, but after years of therapy, the 19-year-old is now looking forward to college.
But, that wasn't the last of Mary Kaye’s efforts. She also took in 15-year-old Robert Drummond, who ended up in adoptive care in Ohio.
“His adopted mom had called the county to take him back,” Bernardo explains. “She said she was looking online for someone to take him. I was ready to take him home that night because that's kind of scary.”
Bernardo says a network of social workers told her about the troubled teen, who had just turned 13. However that didn’t faze Mary Kaye because of her love for children.
Bernardo takes pride in getting those children out of bad homes and into good. But, there are still plenty of others situations, where children are 're-homed' from bad homes to worse.
After learning of the underground practice, State Representative Cheryl Grossman (R) decided to do something about it. She says there is currently no oversight for respite care in Ohio, and wants to fix that by empowering social workers to keep better track of children, who enter new homes. “I think this legislation will give them the tools and certainly the power on those cases they believe need further investigation.”
Union County prosecutor David Phillips says the bill could have helped prevent the alleged wrongdoings in Marysville so adopted children, like young Nita Durand, would never be lost again.