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U.S. news

Adopted children traded online

Tennessee authorities removed Nora Gateley from an adoptive home after allegations of abuse surfaced. She is now 26 and living on her own. NBC News, in partnership with Reuters, has uncovered a black market for internationally adopted children.

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Quita Puchalla,21, of Milwaukee Wisconsin May, 7, 2013. Puchalla spends time outside her apartment. Adopted as a child she now lives on her own and is going to school.  REUTERS/Jeffrey Phelps (UNITED STATES)

Quita Puchalla was adopted from Liberia when she was a teenager. She was given to a new couple by her adoptive parents without the involvement of any lawyers or government authorities. Quita, now 21 and living on her own, is enrolled at the Milwaukee Area Technical College and plans to study social work.

Jeffrey Phelps
Melissa Puchalla of Appleton, Wisconsin shuffles through piles of paper work containing records for Quita, her adopted daughter from Liberia, on May 8, 2013.

Melissa Puchalla and her husband Todd sent Quita to live with Nicole and Calvin Eason in Illinois. The handoff took place at a mobile home park where the Easons lived, where the Puchallas signed a power of attorney agreement granting guardianship to the Easons.

Sara Stathas
Stewart sits in the living room at his current home in Gordon

Caption: Dmitri Stewart, 20, also lived with the Easons for some time. He was adopted from Russia when he was three years old by an American couple living in Scotland and re-homed at the age of 14.

Tami Chappell
Anna Barnes was adopted from Russia as a child and brought to the US then subsequently adopted by Lisa and Gary Barnes. Photographed in Granbury, Texas  Thursday May 30, 2013. To match Special Report Adoption/     REUTERS/Richard Rodriguez   (UNITED STATES)

Anna Barnes, now 18, was adopted from Russia at the age of 7 years old. She lived with three different families in the span of six years.

Richard Rodriguez
Lisa and Gary Barnes  adoptive parents of Anna Barnes. Photographed in Tolar, Texas  Thursday May 30, 2013. To match Special Report Adoption/     REUTERS/Richard Rodriguez   (UNITED STATES)

Gary and Lisa Barnes adopted Anna when she was 11 years old. They re-homed her to a couple in Illinois, where she only stayed for several days before Gary brought her back to Texas.

Richard Rodriguez
Image: Eason sits in side her Tucson, Arizona home

Nicole Eason had her two biological children removed, according to child welfare authorities, though Nicole denies this. Anna Barnes lived with the couple for several days in 2008.

Samantha Sais / X02817
Calvin Eason. Photo: Blake Morrison/REUTERS

Nicole Eason and her husband Calvin, pictured here, have moved at least six times, most recently being evicted from their Tucson, Arizona trailer home in August.

Lisa and Gary Barnes  adoptive parents of Anna Barnes. Photographed in Tolar, Texas  Thursday May 30, 2013. To match Special Report Adoption/     REUTERS/Richard Rodriguez   (UNITED STATES)

Gary and Lisa Barnes breed miniature horses in Tolar, Texas. Anna is still in touch with them.

Richard Rodriguez
Anna Barnes was adopted from Russia as a child and brought to the US then subsequently adopted by Lisa and Gary Barnes. Photographed in Granbury, Texas  Thursday May 30, 2013. To match Special Report Adoption/     REUTERS/Richard Rodriguez   (UNITED STATES)

Anna lives on her own and hopes to go to college one day. She was admitted to Texas Tech University but doesn’t know if she can afford it.

Richard Rodriguez
Megan Exon stands for a portrait at their home in Hickory

Megan Exon, see here on Aug. 12, 2013, says she came to regret her role moderating an online forum for parents who were struggling to raise children they adopted from overseas.

John Adkisson / REUTERS
Schmidt family, Trenton, TN

Authorities removed 18 children from the Tennessee home of Tom and Debra Schmitz in 2004, including Nora Gateley.

Greg Campbell / FR3919AP
Tom and Debra Schmitz wait as the lawyers have a sidebar with Judge Clayburn Peeples during the first day of their child abuse trial in Brownsville, Tenn., Monday, Jan. 30, 2006. The Schmitzes sit in front of what was called \"the cage,\" a covered bed that was sometimes used for punishment, according to one of the children living in their house at the time of the alleged incidents. (AP Photo/The Jackson Sun, Helen Comer)

Debra Schmitz pleaded no contest to 14 counts of child abuse and one count of child trafficking. She served 6 months. Tom Schmitz’s case was expunged.

Helen Comer / THE JACKSON SUN
SCHMITZ

The Schmitz family having dinner in their Trenton, Tennessee home before the children were removed by authorities.

Greg Campbell / AP
Nora Gately (HANDOUT PICTURE)

Nora Gateley, now 26, was adopted from China at the age of 13. She lived with the Schmitz family for three years before a nurse gave her a tape recorder to document the alleged abuse she had sustained.

Nora, who walks with a brace after having polio as a child, lives on her own in Tennessee and plays in a wheelchair basketball league.

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