Editor's Note: Today's stories are the first in a series of online and broadcast reports on adoption by Reuters and NBC News.
A Tennessee woman says that when her adoptive parents gave her away to new parents at age 14, she and 17 other adoptive kids in her "nightmarish" new home were sometimes forced to dig their own "graves" in the backyard and scrub the floor with toothbrushes.
"'Get out and go dig your own grave," Nora Gateley, now 26, says her new mother told her. "'I don't care if you die. Nobody will find you. You were not even here in the first place."
Americans have adopted nearly a quarter million children from overseas since the late 1990s, but sometimes the children have undisclosed physical or behavioral problems, and sometimes their adoptive parents simply can't cope with their new responsibilities.
An investigation by Reuters in partnership with NBC News has uncovered an underground world of "re-homing," where parents give their children to new caretakers, sometimes people they have met only over the internet, with little or no government oversight.
Watch "Today" and "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams" for more on re-homing.