Everything You Need to Know to Protect Yourself
With any adoption, you’re taking a huge leap of faith. Unfortunately, there are some who know that you’re in a vulnerable, emotional place and are waiting to take advantage of unsuspecting families. These people are known as adoption scammers.
While adoption scams are few and far between, they do happen, and they’re an unfortunate reality of adoption that hopeful parents need to be aware of. The best way to protect your family from falling victim to one is through education and awareness.
Here, learn more about what adoption scams are and how you can protect yourself from falling victim to one.
What is an Adoption Scam?
Most adoption scams will involve a pregnant or a supposedly pregnant woman contacting an adoption agency or an adoptive family hoping to place her child for adoption. Oftentimes, she is never actually pregnant (or has no plans to place her unborn child) and is only looking for emotional or financial support.
Adoption scams can also be perpetuated by adoption professionals. In these situations, a professional will appear trustworthy in order to lure families in. Behind the scenes, however, no adoption is actually taking place. Hopeful parents may start to notice that their phone calls and emails are frequently going unanswered until, eventually, there’s no response at all. Once they realize what’s happening, families are left heartbroken and swindled out of thousands of dollars. While they always have the opportunity to try again with a reputable professional, it may be harder to place their trust in another professional.
How to Protect Yourself in an Adoption
While we know adoption scams are scary to think about, they’re an unfortunate reality that all adoptive families need to be aware of. However, there are some steps that you can take to protect yourself.
- Don’t transfer any money directly: All payments made to a prospective birth mother should be handled by an adoption professional. If a prospective birth mother is asking you for money directly, don’t do it. Reach out to a well‐known, trusted adoption agency or adoption attorney before sending money to someone you don’t know.
- Find a trusted professional: One couple in South Carolina became the unfortunate victim of a scam through an agency. While couples who pursue an independent adoption are more susceptible to scams, it can really happen to anyone. To help minimize any risks, look for an agency that ensures all of their prospective birth parents are screened and offers financial protection for disruptions or scams.
- Stay alert on social media: A few of the most recent adoption scams took place through Instagram. Two couples thought they had found the answer to their prayers after connecting with who they thought was a prospective birth mother. But unfortunately, after months of lies and broken promises, their hopes with that opportunity never came true. If you’re a couple pursuing an independent adoption, be wary of who you share your information with online.
- Keep track of the story: During your adoption, you’ll have many chances to get to know the prospective birth mother. But it’s hard to remember every word. Take notes during your conversation to see if the story starts to change. If things don’t seem to add up, it might point to an adoption scam.
- Watch out for red flags: Hindsight is always 20/20. Too many of the families who fell victim to an adoption scammer realized what was happening far too late. The best way to prevent getting caught up with an adoption scammer is becoming familiar with the tricks they’re prone to using and keeping an eye out for red flags. You can read stories from other adoptive families on their experiences with adoption scammers to get an idea of what to look for.
With the right tools, adoption scammers are easy to spot. So, don’t ignore your instincts. If you have a sinking suspicion that something is off, you’re probably right.
On top of the tips that we’ve listed below, you should also take the time to do your own research. Here are a few articles that might be helpful for recognizing adoption scams, including some recent adoption scam stories.
- 8 Ways to Identify an Adoption Scammer
- Adoption Scams: Be Aware, Not Paranoid
- What Are the Signs of an Adoption Scam?
- Adoption Attorney Indicted for Human Trafficking
- Woman Accused of Defrauding Hopeful Couple in Adoption Scam
- Mom Shares Heartbreaking Story of Being ‘Manipulated’ by Birth Mother in Private-Adoption Scam
Although we’ve listed plenty of tips to help prevent an adoption scam, the truth is that these situations can — and do — still happen. The most important thing is knowing that there are many ways to protect yourself. By far, the best way to minimize the risk of an adoption scam is to work with a reputable agency or adoption professional. Reach out to one today to learn more.