When couples are hoping and waiting to adopt, they may be presented with a variety of situations to consider, especially when they are screening the situations themselves. Unfortunately, they are often easy prey for unscrupulous people eager to take advantage of the couples' hopefulness in adoption.
The best way to protect yourself from fraudulent adoption schemes is to work with an adoption professional who can screen potential adoption situations with a level head and without the same hopeful emotions that "this may be the one" that is common in adoption.
This is valuable because a professional can ask questions as a third party and will be better able to probe further into questionable answers without fear of making the birth parent hang up the phone.
For families who may not have a professional who can do this, learning about the most common fraudulent adoption situations offered and the motivation behind them is a vital key to keeping themselves safe. The top 5 adoption schemes I have seen firsthand are:
Adoption Situations from Cameroon or Other African Nation.
Often these will come via email and will appear to be from a priest or pastor, a family member, or even an orphanage. They involve a young child who's mother has reportedly perished. Like other internet scams, the English is usually not American English and the situation is dire and heartbreaking.
Twins, Triplets, or More!
For most couples hoping to adopt, multiples are very attractive. Families think that they will just have to do this one adoption and they will be done building their family. That fact is what renders this a common and effective adoption fraud.
Couples might think that it is "worth the risk" because it just may work out. Twin adoptions do happen, but it is not worth overlooking potential red flags just because of the hope.
Needing Money NOW.
This fraud involves a caller usually who needs money for immediate needs, like a hotel, an airplane or bus ticket, or any other type of expense. The underlying threat is that if you don't pay it, she will call a different family to adopt her baby.
A Very Attractive Situation for a Specific Price.
Sometimes adoption situations will be advertised with a price tag, and usually these situations are what many consider attractive. Beware!
While these may go through, often they are a result of "stacked fees", where various advertisers, agencies, attorneys, and others may add their own fee to market a situation. The concern is that if the situation doesn't go through or is awarded to a different family, a portion of your money will not be refunded and you will not have any further hope of adopting via these professionals because your fee was for the specific situation.
If the professional will continue to work with you, that's great but keep in mind that you likely will be working with an adoption professional that you didn't choose thoughtfully but are "stuck with" because they have your money for the failed situation.
Low Fee to Present You to a Specific Birth Parent.
This used to be quite common... A number of families pay $50 to $500 to someone to present them, along with other families, to a birth parent. Whether or not the birth parent picks them doesn't really matter, the person collecting the money has made a tidy sum of money! Avoid these situations.
Adoption happens every day in the U.S., but it is vital to protect your heart, your wallet, and your family while in the process. If you have any of these "opportunities" come your way, proceed with extreme caution and ask an adoption professional to assist you in exploring whether or not the situation is truly a good potential for a successful adoption.
Mardie Caldwell is a Certified Open Adoption Practitioner, an award winning author of 5 adoption books: Adopting Online, Adoption: Your Step-by-Step Guide, So I Was Thinking About Adoption, The Healthcare Professional's Adoption Guide, and Called to Adoption.
Mardie is also the talk show host of Let's Talk Adoption with Mardie Caldwell and the founder of Lifetime Adoption in 1986. She travels and speaks nationwide on adoption topics, family topics, infertility and writing. She has been quoted in and consulted for Parenting and Adoption magazines and has appeared on CNN, CBS, ABC, BBC, NBC, and Fox. Featured in Parade Magazine, Caldwell is an adoptive mother living in Northern California.
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