SVU Episode #15-13: Wednesday’s Child

Tonight’s SVU did something only this show can: it entertained and riveted, while teaching about a horrific American problem. In this gut-wrenching episode, SVU cast a light on the real-life tragedy of “rehoming”: the practice of giving up adopted kids via Internet chat rooms, and the abuse that flourishes in this blackmarket of thrown-away children.


The SVU detectives are called into a home when it appears that a child has been abducted. In fact, the 7-year-old boy was given up by his mother, without the father’s knowledge. The couple had adopted him from former Soviet state of Georgia, only to learn that he had serious developmental and social problems.

Mom couldn’t take it, so she went to a chat room and met a well-meaning but ditzy middleman who took the child, then promptly gave him to a couple with a false address and a forged home-study. The new family turns out to be pornographers who took the boy to use in their child porn videos.

Olivia and her team eventually track them down to a cheap motel, where they save the boy and three little girls. In the motel room, they also find an infant baby. The infant is unclaimed and sent into the foster care system.

Olivia, who spent a large part of this episode in an exciting but ultimately anticlimactic pregnancy head-fake, looks longingly at the baby as her biological clock ticks ominously in the background.

Verdict: A

What they got right:

Last September, Reuters ran a five-part story about the practice of rehoming in America. Read this story. It will chill you to the bone.

Some of tonight’s episode was hard to watch, especially the scenes with the kids on video. Even worse are the things that happen to kids like this in real life.

Americans who adopt foreign children with psychological problems can feel overwhelmed. One woman infamously sent her adopted son back to Russia on a plane.

More recently, some have used the Internet to abandon these children, in a practice known as “rehoming.” Parents advertise they have a child available; within hours, they can hand the child off to other adults who want them, for reasons ranging from benign to heinous. There are no child welfare agencies involved and no government records. The old family simply signs a power-of-attorney for to the new family, allowing them to care for the children.

The results are horrific. Sexual predators troll the sites, obtaining tiny victims almost effortlessly. Reuters chronicled extensive sexual and physical abuse. One girl was made to dig her own grave.

Support for adoptive parents and a greater system of oversight after international adoptions could help alleviate this. Kudos to SVU for getting people to talk and care about this real problem.

On a happier note, was Olivia thinking of adopting that cute baby herself? It wouldn’t be as implausible as it might seem. As an antidote to the information above, check out this wonderful story of a man who found an abandoned baby in the New York subway … and ended up adopting him into a warm and loving home.

What they got wrong:

When Nick and Ice-T went to execute their arrest warrant, Nick broke down the front door with his shoulder. This only happens on TV. Try breaking down a door with your shoulder. Your shoulder will not appreciate it, and the door won’t give a damn. In warrant cases where a door might need knocking down, police bring a battering ram.

As the squad’s new sergeant, Olivia wouldn’t be out on the street investigating the case, nor would she be executing warrants. She would be behind the desk responding to emails, preparing budgets, and filling out evaluations (those evaluations going to be interesting this year, with Amanda’s gambling, Nick’s marital dysfunction, and Fin’s … being Fin).

Finally, I’ve never met a police officer who would turn down a chance to stand next to the mayor at a press conference after a big bust. Their job is pretty thankless. Officers need to get their attaboys where they can.

What do you think, SVU fans? Was this episode hard for you to watch? Should Olivia try to adopt that adorable baby? And whatever happened to that other foster child she had, a few seasons ago? Leave your comments!

About Allison Leotta


  1. What I think they got wrong is the happy ending. Nicky Moore would more than likely be found dead after “Acting Deputy Commissioner for Public Information” Hank Abraham issued an AMBER alert. Child alert systems are only supposed to be used when the child has been abducted, in the first three hours since there disappearance, when the child’s life is believed to be in immediate peril and when there is sufficient information for the public to be able to assist the police. AMBER alerts are never supposed to be used when they are likely to increase the risk to the child. In this case, Hank Abraham issued an AMBER alert for a child that hadn’t been abducted, after the first three hours, whose life was in no immediate peril and without any expectation that the public could give useful information. Unsurprisingly the AMBER alert tipped off the paedophiles, which would have exponentially increased the chances of Nicky being murdered.

    • Carl N. Brown says:

      Yeah, as I understand it, Amber alerts work if it is known that the abductor and victim are out in public on the move and there is a chance they will be seen and identified by the public at large. Using an Amber alert in this instance does not strike me as realistic. Like breaking down a door with one’s shoulder–dare I say it? Yes–it plays ike bad writing.

      • Yeah, that’s right but the system shouldn’t be used outside of the first three hours of the abduction because that is when the child is most likely to be killed. If the child isn’t dead by that time there’s no justification for such a high risk strategy because there is much better chance of getting the child back alive if the police don’t alert the abductor. This is why AMBER alerts are used so fleetingly in Europe because they place the child in so much danger.

        • James Pollock says:

          They showed the Amber alert as being a political decision rather than a practical one.. That is, it was done because they political advisor wanted to be seen as “doing something” rather than actually worrying about what would work.

          In the sense that it’s certainly true that this can happen, it’s accurate.

  2. “When Nick and Ice-T went to execute their arrest warrant, Nick broke down the front door with his shoulder. This only happens on TV. Try breaking down a door with your shoulder. Your shoulder will not appreciate it, and the door won’t give a damn.”

    Heh, in season 11′s Perverted they ACTUALLY followed that realistically for once, when Elliot TRIED knocking the door down with his shoulder. Your right, his shoulder was feeling it after that action. ;)

  3. This was a great episode. I actually thought it was a good idea not to have Olivia adopt the kid, from a writer’s perspective. A hero who suffers gives the viewers all the chance to let their empathy flow freely.

    Award for most ridiculous line of the evening goes to “She’s tight like a drum”, said seconds before Mrs. Child Porn Producer gave the whole story and the room number.

  4. Judy Peterson says:

    I enjoyed this episode! As a mom, I felt the heartstrings of where the special boy was. Hoping, beyond hope, that the mother didn’t end it’s life because of her stress in taking care of him.

    Good show! Thank you!

    • >Hoping, beyond hope, that the mother didn’t end it’s life because of her stress in taking care of him

      …he’s not real

  5. that’s not what trolling is ALLISON. Trolling is when you post something inflammatory for the sake of pissing other people off. Presumably these pedos are trying not to piss people off they want to trick them in to handing there kids over

    • James Pollock says:

      In this case, the word “troll” is used in its literal meaning, and not as an Internet term.

      troll 1 (trəʊl)

      — vb
      1. angling
      a. to draw (a baited line, etc) through the water, often from a boat
      b. to fish (a stretch of water) by trolling
      c. to fish (for) by trolling

      If you’re going to tell a writer that they’re using a word incorrectly, do your research first.

      • you wona not be a dick about correcting people?

        • James Pollock says:

          You’re not real familiar with the Internet, are you?

          • “everyone is doing it” is not a justification for something

          • James Pollock says:

            …a.a.a.and you missed the point AGAIN.

            If you think THAT was “being a dick about correcting people”, you haven’t spent much time on Internet.

            Jumping up to correct someone who isn’t wrong is dumb. Complaining about being corrected afterwards? Well, that’s YOU.

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