5 Tips To Protect Yourself From An Adoption Scam
There are different variations of adoption fraud. In a private, US newborn adoption, an adoption scam or a Birth Mother scam typically refers to a situation where a person defrauds money from hopeful Adoptive Parents with no intention of placing her child for adoption, or in some cases, without even being pregnant. For Adoptive Parents who think they are paying for their Birth Mother’s pregnancy related expenses, becoming a victim of an adoption scam can be devastating.
While adoption scams are a reality, it is also important to recognize that not all failed or disrupted adoptions are scams. As heartbreaking as it is for Adoptive Parents, Birth Mothers can also truly intend to place their babies for adoption but have a change of heart and choose to parent instead.
Continue reading below to learn more about the 5 Tips to protect yourself from an adoption scam.
1. Choose an experienced adoption professional
One of the biggest ways to protect yourself from an adoption scam is to get the guidance of a trusted adoption professional. Experienced adoption professionals are able to alert you to warning signs that you will not be aware of. They will also be able to guide you through a situation that might be troubling to you but may not be an adoption scam.
Adoption professionals also communicate with one another regarding potential fraudulent Birth Mothers, which can include Birth Mothers who are attempting to contact multiple adoption agencies or professionals to collect money from more than one Adoptive Family.
2. Make sure you have a proof of pregnancy
Before you accept an adoption opportunity, you should first confirm that the Birth Mother has a valid proof of pregnancy. If you are working with an adoption professional, they should already have a valid proof of pregnancy before presenting you with an adoption opportunity. It is not enough that a Birth Mother looks to be pregnant or that she has an ultrasound, as those can be altered. What you need is a confirmed proof of pregnancy from a medical provider.
3. Do not ignore warning signs
For many hopeful Adoptive Parents, the road to adoption has already been a difficult journey. When they feel like their dreams of parenting are finally about to come true, their emotions can sometimes take over and cause them to ignore what they know should be warning signs of something not being quite right.
If you are in an adoption opportunity with a Birth Mother and you have concerns, or if your adoption professional relays some concerns they have, make sure to address it together and find out more information to make sure you are safe to move forward.
4. Check out your relationship with your Birth Mother
Today, most adoptions have some level of openness, with Adoptive Parents and Birth Mothers maintaining some level of contact during the pregnancy, as well as after the baby is placed. This means that during the pregnancy, many Birth Mothers and Adoptive Parents will talk, text, email or even meet in person.
While every Birth Mother’s life situation is different, if a Birth Mother is constantly evading you or her adoption professional and missing scheduled calls or appointments, make sure to ask questions. Also question if a Birth Mother is always requesting additional money for emergencies or unexpected expenses. Many Birth Mothers are at a vulnerable time in their lives, so these circumstances do not always indicate an adoption scam but you should reach out to your adoption professional and ask for their guidance.
Even if you are in a closed adoption and your Birth Mother is only in contact through your adoption professional, make sure you check in regularly with your adoption professional to get updates about your Birth Mother and the pregnancy.
5. Make sure any payments to a Birth Mother are handled through your adoption professional
Individual states have laws regarding allowable Birth Mother expenses. It is important that you never give a Birth Mother money directly but make sure any and all pregnancy and adoption related expenses are handled through your adoption professional that knows what expenses are allowed to be paid. Your adoption professional should also not be paying the Birth Mother directly, but making allowable payments directly to her medical provider, landlord, etc. Your adoption professional will also be responsible for giving the Court an accurate accounting of all money your Birth Mother received, if any, which the Court will review before finalizing your adoption.
Also, in the event of an adoption scam, make sure you review your adoption professional’s policy regarding how they handle Birth Mother expenses that were paid. A few national adoption entities will provide some financial protection in situations where you/they have been the victims of an adoption scam. While it will not reduce the heartache, this can make a tremendous impact on an Adoptive Family who will now have to pursue another adoption opportunity.