World Wrap

Inside the black market for adopted children

By Danielle Wiener-Bronner
September 9, 2013

A Reuters report details the dangerous world of trading adopted children, Obama faces uphill battle on Syria strike, and Tokyo’s Olympics triumph sheds light on Fukushima fallout. Today is Monday, September 9, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.

Adopted child Quita Puchalla, 21, poses outside her apartment in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, May 7, 2013. REUTERS/Jeffrey Phel

Traded online. When Liberan-born Quita’s adoptive parents decided they could no longer care for her, they took to a Yahoo chat room to find new guardians. After two days, a couple responded that they would take Quita, providing little more than a fabricated document as evidence that they were qualified to care for the teenager. Quita’s life in the United States quickly became a nightmare:

Nicole and Calvin Eason, an Illinois couple in their 30s, saw the ad and a picture of the smiling 16-year-old. They were eager to take Quita, even though the ad warned that she had been diagnosed with severe health and behavioral problems. In emails, Nicole Eason assured [adoptive parent] Melissa Puchalla that she could handle the girl. “People that are around me think I am awesome with kids,” Eason wrote…. Had [Melissa Puchalla] vetted them more closely, she might have discovered what Reuters would learn: Child welfare authorities had taken away both of Nicole Eason’s biological children years earlier. After a sheriff’s deputy helped remove the Easons’ second child, a newborn baby boy, the deputy wrote in his report that the “parents have severe psychiatric problems as well with violent tendencies.” The Easons each had been accused by children they were babysitting of sexual abuse, police reports show. They say they did nothing wrong, and neither was charged.

An extensive Reuters report exposes the online black market for adopted children – most of them foreign-born – where guardians can discard adoptees without official oversight and at great risk to the children. A year-long effort including analysis of more than 5,000 posts in a now-defunct Yahoo chat room reveals that a child was advertised for re-homing on an average of once a week. Click through the Reuters special series to learn more about Quita and other victims of the shadowy online child exchange.

A Free Syrian Army fighter sets up homemade rockets to be launched towards forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad based in the Kwers military airport in Aleppo, September 9, 2013. REUTERS/Loubna Mrie

Losing steam on Syria. As Congress returns from its summer recess to discuss Syria, Obama faces an uphill battle to convince lawmakers to agree to military action against Assad:

During the break, their constituents voiced strong objections to the action, worrying that it would drag the country into another costly, and broader, Middle East conflict. Opinion polls show most Americans oppose a strike. A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll said 56 percent of Americans believed the United States should not intervene in Syria; 19 percent backed action. McDonough, the White House chief of staff, led the administration’s lobbying effort on Sunday, part of an intensive push for support that will continue on Monday when Obama sits for six network television interviews and culminate with an address to the country on Tuesday night.

Members of Congress could make a decision on the strike as soon as Wednesday, around the same time U.N. chemical weapons investigators are expected to turn over their report on the attack. In an interview with PBS’s Charlie Rose, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad denied responsibility for last month’s apparent chemical attack that, according to the U.S., killed more than 1,400 people. CBS and PBS will air the interview tonight.

An aerial view shows people sitting in formation to the words “thank you” and displaying signs that collectively read “arigato” (thank uou) during an event celebrating Tokyo being chosen to host the 2020 Olympic Games, at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in this photo taken by Kyodo, September 8, 2013.  REUTERS/Kyodo

Tokyo’s a go. The International Olympic Committee picked Tokyo to host the Olympic Games in 2020, paving the way for an economic boost to the country while highlighting its worst nuclear disaster in decades:

While Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s bold gamble to throw himself into the Tokyo bid paid off handsomely, his claims to have the problems of the crippled Fukushima nuclear reactor under control ran into fresh resistance… “I would like to state clearly that there has not been, is not now and will not be any health problems whatsoever,” Abe told a news conference. “Furthermore, the government has already decided a program to make sure there is absolutely no problem, and we have already started.” Tokyo pledged last week to spend nearly half a billion dollars on cleaning up the plant, with critics saying the announcement was aimed at the Olympic vote. But a poll by the Asahi newspaper over the weekend found that 72 percent of the respondents thought the government’s response was too late, while 95 percent thought Fukushima was a serious problem.

Some hope that the national attention will force Japan to deal with the nuclear fallout from Fukushima. Madrid was first contender to be eliminated from the race, and Istanbul lost by a large margin in a head-to-head vote.

Nota Bene: Opposition leader Navalny accuses the Kremlin of rigging Moscow’s mayoral race.

Standouts:

Benefit breakdown -  Reuters editor Hugo Dixon argues that the EU should change its welfare policy. (Reuters)

Visa diet - South African man facing deportation for being too fat gets a 23-month reprieve. (BBC)

Join jaunt - Jamaica now offers marijuana farm tours. (Associated Press)

Iran intricacies - Tehran’s new government debates what to do about Syria. (Time)

Presidential precedent - Pakistan’s president is the first to complete a full term in office. (New York Times)

From the File:

  • Norway’s opposition set for sweeping victory.
  • British sergeant denies firing at bodies in Iraq.
  • Kenyatta urges ICC to ensure trials do not damage government.
  • Yahoo welcomes release of Chinese writer jailed for email.
  • Clashes renewed near Syrian capital over historic Christian town.

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