Considering adoption as a means to grow your family is a wonderful choice. You are able to create the family of your dreams while giving a child the gift of a loving and supportive family. However, if you don’t know much about the options available to you when it comes to adoption or where to turn, it can be easy to look in the wrong places.
Though it is a usually a straightforward process, sometimes just one negative experience or long wait times when trying to adopt can be too much for some waiting couples. In a digital age heavily dominated by the internet, many waiting couples turn to social media to search for adoption opportunities. While there have been some successful adoptions that have resulted from social media, there are heavy risks involved.
These risks often boil down to two potential unfortunate situations: It’s a scam and the alleged “birth parent” is not actually pregnant/considering adoption or you are dealing with an expectant parent who is serious about adoption, but without the proper processes and legal support, you can run into legal issues with disastrous results.
There has been an increasing trend of hopeful adoptive parents looking for adoption opportunities on social media platforms such as Craigslist, Twitter and Instagram. Many have taken to Instagram using hashtags such as “#lookingtoadopt” or “#waitingtoadopt” with the hopes of being found by an expectant mother looking for an adoptive family for her baby.
There have been reports of alleged potential birth parents reaching out to couples using these hashtags claiming they want to place their baby for adoption. In one instance of this, the couple dialoged with the “birth mom” for months, sending messages and pictures back and forth until eventually, the owner of the “birth mom” account blocked the hopeful couple.
While there was no money exchanged, this was a massive waste of time for the hopeful adoptive parents and emotionally devastating. Whether this was someone trying to catfish the couple or a pregnant woman who got cold feet, this is a very real risk of using social media to find an adoption opportunity with no way to verify the legitimacy of the self-proclaimed expectant mom.
An even bigger risk is that you could be scammed out of money in the event of adoption fraud. If the person claiming to be a birth parent looking for adoptive parents charges you for money to adopt her baby and then cuts off communication with you, not only could this transaction be considered illegal (we’ll touch more on this later), but you could also be susceptible to financial damages.
An Illegal Adoption
It cannot be stressed enough that it is illegal for you to purchase another individual’s child, just as it’s illegal for them to attempt to sell their child. Depending on your state’s laws, this can be considered adoption fraud or even child trafficking. It is highly illegal for the expectant parent to accept financial compensation in exchange for her child, especially if she has no actual intent to place a child for adoption. In more sinister cases, you have no way of knowing for sure if the child you are paying to adopt actually belongs to the alleged biological parent.
Even if the expectant mother is honest and her intentions are good, the adoption will not be considered legal unless you go through the proper steps. In most states, the adoptive parents must complete a home study, go through the proper legal steps with an adoption agency and/or an adoption attorney, and then have a decree of adoption issued by a court. If the adoption is not above board, authorities could remove the child from your home.
3 Alternatives to Using Social Media for Adoption
We understand how frustrating it can be when all you want is to have a family of your own and it feels like the odds are against you. We promise there is hope.
Instead of turning to social media to find a child, you should always turn to a properly-licensed professional. Here are three alternatives to risky (and potentially illegal) social media matches:
1. A National Adoption Agency
We know that the stories of lengthy wait times can be discouraging. National adoption agencies complete adoptions all over the country, which means they work with multiple expectant parents at once. This means there will be more adoption opportunities, and shorter wait times to find the right opportunities. When you work with a national adoption agency, you’ll not only have shorter wait times than a local agency, you’ll have access to many useful services and resources for your adoption.
An adoption agency will be able to screen the birth parent to ensure that everything is legitimate and that you will not fall victim to adoption fraud. An adoption professional will be able to walk you through the adoption process step by step to ensure that all your bases are covered and all the proper legal paperwork has been completed so that your adoption can be considered legal. They’ll connect you with an adoption attorney to ensure that your rights are protected.
2. Foster Care Adoption
Adopting from foster care is a beautiful way to add another member to your family while also giving a waiting child a loving and supportive family. Foster care usually focuses on the placement of older children and may not always be a permanent placement, as it is usually a temporary arrangement when the biological parents cannot properly care for them at the time.
The priority is to reunite the child with their birth family in a safe and stable environment. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. This is where you come in. You can foster a child with the possibility of adoption, or you can adopt a child who is already awaiting adoption.
3. International Adoption
International adoption is a beautiful way to expand your family, while giving a child abroad a supportive and loving family. International adoption might sound overwhelming at first when you factor in state, federal and international adoption laws, which is why you should always work with a Hague-accredited agency. Your adoption professional will coordinate everything for you so that you can be sure the laws and customs of the country you are adopting from are being abided by.
Before you send out a hashtag looking for an adoption opportunity, consider reaching out to an adoption professional to get free information about your options.