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How to Protect Yourself from Adoption Fraud

January 21, 2016

Adoption Fraud


Adoption fraud attacks some of our most vulnerable citizens during their most vulnerable times: birthmothers who are looking for options for their child and couples who desperately want to be parents.

That is why it’s so important to work with a professional you can trust. Whether you are a birthmother or an adoptive family, having an agency with experience assisting with both sides of the adoption story can protect not only your emotions, but your money and your future.

Adoption fraud can happen in many ways. One way involves a woman who presents herself as pregnant in order to receive financial support during her pregnancy. This fraud is an intentional misleading by a woman who either is not pregnant or had no any intention of placing her child for adoption. (Please note: birthmothers who experience a change of heart either during their pregnancy or after birth are not guilty of fraud. They never intentionally misled anyone.)

Remember, for most birth mothers selecting families for their children, it is the biggest decision they will ever make in their lives. A birth mother will take her time to make this decision. A scam artist will just pick a someone at random. If the birth parents haven’t put enough thought into their decision, they might see you as a potential target instead of a potential parent.

If you have been contacted by a birth mother, have her get in touch with your agency. Placing a child for adoption is a very important decision for a birthmother, and by encouraging a birthmother to reach out to an agency, it protects the potential adoptive family and the birth mother.

Adoptive parents can be guilty of adoption fraud when they lie to the birth parents about their intentions. They may agree to a certain amount of openness in hopes of attracting a birthmother, but never have intend to keep their word. They may also lie about their personal information to make themselves more appealing to a birthmother.

A trustworthy agency will protect the birth mother from being manipulated. If a birthparent is not working directly with the potential adoptive parents, there’s less chance of empty promises. Adoptive parents presented through reputable agencies have been through an extensive home study process.

During the home study process, the agency will do in-depth evaluations of the adoptive parents’ relationship, inspections of their residence, parenting ideals, medical history, employment verification, financial status and criminal background checks. These studies help us know if an adoptive family’s status has changed.

Adoption agencies can also assist birth mothers who have an open adoption in reaching out to the adoptive families if communication is lost. They can provide post-adoptive counseling for birth mothers, something they won’t receive in a private adoption. They can also support birthmothers emotionally and help them discuss the decision with families.

Unfortunately, not every agency works to protect their potential adoptive parents. Adoption agencies and lawyers guilty of adoption fraud may charge higher than average fees. They may make it difficult for you to make an informed decision by not providing you with all the information about a child. They might even just disappear after you’ve handed them your money and not follow through with services.

Be suspicious if an agency or lawyer:

  • promises you an adoption that sounds too good to be true. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • guarantees your child will have no health issues. No adoption agency can promise you the child will have absolutely no health issues.
  • doesn’t promptly return your emails or phone calls. During the adoption process, the agency or lawyer is assisting you. They need to be attentive to your needs.
  • pressures you to sign documents you don’t fully understand.
  • agrees to one thing in the paperwork, but persuades you to do another.
  • tells you not to worry about the birth father who has not been told about the pregnancy.

Adoptive families’ deep desire to have a child can override their instincts. They may not realize something is amiss until it’s it too late. What’s worse is that many states do not have laws that specifically punish adoption fraud. This is why it’s important to stay vigilant.

Working with a trusted professional is just the first step. Make sure you’re asking questions and that you know your legal rights in adoption. Protect yourself by learning more about common scams and keep in mind that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Finally, talk to other adoptive families. They can tell you what to expect.

Creating a Family, whose in-depth resources and training we provide to our adoptive families, has some great information on avoiding adoption fraud on their website.