CHESAPEAKE, Va. -- Fifteen-year-old Evan Jones of Chesapeake, Va., enjoys spending time with his family. But life hasn't always been carefree for the teenager from Ukraine.
When Jones' mother died he was only 8. He and his sister went to live with his grandmother, but when she could no longer care for them they were placed in a Ukrainian orphanage.
Jones left the institution when a couple from the United States, who hosted him one Christmas, decided to adopt him.
"It was really amazing when I got a family because I realized that God answered my prayer," Jones told CBN News. "I got a little brother and a sister and other brother, so it was like a complete family like I imagined."
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Jones eventually moved with his new family to Charlotte, N.C., but it wasn't the happy ending he had dreamed of.
His parents quickly learned they weren't fully prepared to take care of Evan. They then searched for a new family to take him in.
Re-homing Adopted Kids
His story is not unique. An 18-month investigation by Reuters called "The Child Exchange" found parents re-homing adopted kids.
The story uncovered online posts featuring children ages 6 to 14 who had been adopted from countries such as China, Russia, Ethiopia, and Ukraine. The transactions took place on eight Yahoo message boards and a Facebook group.
One post from a mother who adopted a Guatemalan 11-year- old read, "I am totally ashamed to say it but we do truly hate this boy!"
Adoption experts blame part of the problem on lack of government oversight and little international monitoring. Some of the children ended up in unsafe situations.
"We're learning that there were children who were placed in dangerous situations where the family who received the child was not properly vetted," Chuck Johnson, with the National Council for Adoption, told CBN News.
"Their motives were not considered and children were placed with pedophiles and with people who had psychiatric problems, violent tendencies," he added.
A Liberian teen said her adoptive parents gave her away when she was 13.
She said her new guardians told her to sleep in the same bed with them and that the new mom slept without clothing.
Another girl adopted from Russia was sent to three different homes in the United States over a six-month period.
A Double Tragedy
Johnson said that while the majority of adoptions work out well, he said the ones uncovered in the news investigation were disturbing.
"It's a double tragedy because when you consider the circumstance the child endured," he said.
He urges families considering adoption to do their research, especially in international arrangements, including checking out their adoption agency and the prospective child's background.
He also suggested that families be prepared to deal with the emotional scars many orphans suffer.
"We're learning that many of the kids who come here, almost all of them come with developmental delays," he said.
"That's something that every family has to enter into this arrangement; realizing that it's very likely that the child they adopt will have some special needs," he added.
There Is Help
In December 2012, Russia banned U.S. adoptions of its children after an American woman put her 7-year-old adopted son on a plane back to Russia alone.
The mother claimed the boy was violent and had severe psychological problems.
Adoption experts say in many cases, overwhelmed parents don't know there is help. Johnson said for those who choose to relinquish their parental right, there is a safe, legal way to do so through adoption dissolution.
"This would be done in the light," he said."This would be done under the auspices of professional care with social workers and counselors, courts all making sure that the children's best interest are paramount in wherever they go."
Evan's Second Adoption
Evan is reaping the benefits of such an arrangement. David and Julie Jones, from Virginia Beach, Va., heard about his need for a new home through an international adoption support group.
"He had a loving family who is saying we can't do this, we need help," Julie Jones said.
"We arranged a meeting in a park and we just sort of in a very informal way started to get to know him, to get him familiar with us. And that's the way we started this," David Jones said.
The Jones' and their other teenage son, whom they adopted from Russia, built a bond with Evan that grew stronger over time.
"I would go visit them," Evan explained. "It was on and off for several months but then I visited them for longer. I really liked them and over time I began to call them mom dad."
The Jones' eventually adopted Evan.
"We did all this with the consent of the other parents and lawyers in both states. We covered our bases in every way we knew we should," his adopted dad, David, said.
This Time They Kept Me
Evan says he has no hard feelings toward his previous family.
"Even though I got adopted we still kept a relationship with the other family," he said. "I knew what they did was in my best interest."
"Evan is, and always will be, a member of our extended family. In fact, we consider the entire Jones family to be part of our extended family," his originally adopted family told CBN News in a statement.
"Our children think of Evan as a "cousin" of sorts now, and we hope that we will always have a relationship with Evan," he said.
Meanwhile, the Jones' admit taking Evan in has its challenges but they are committed to keeping him as part of their family.
"We will not tell you that we have not raised our voices in our home because we have," his mom Julie said.
"There's been really bad moments, but they've still kept me and loved me and cared for me and after those things are over they still treated me the same way before, like there would be no difference," Evan said.
"It's amazing to see how much they would go through and still keep me," he continued.