Child welfare officials had heard the anecdotes: Desperate parents who felt they could no longer raise children they'd adopted overseas were using the Internet to offer those children to strangers. How often was it happening, and what became of the kids? Because parents handled the custody transfers privately, nobody knew. No government agency was involved, and none was investigating the practice, called “private re-homing.” For 18 months, Reuters reporters committed to a task that the government had never attempted. We sought to document cases of illicit custody transfers by dissecting one of a half dozen little-known online bulletin boards where struggling parents congregated - a marketplace we called The Child Exchange.