I remember walking around the house pushing an umbrella stroller, imagining what it would be like once my baby boy was home. Tears of joy trickled down my face. In less than one week, we would be traveling to Texas to finally become parents. My mind, my emotions, my life became a flurry of activity that week. I washed tiny onesies and outfits in preparation. I purchased diapers, formula and supplies. And I eagerly waited for the moment I had dreamed of for many years. The only problem: that moment never came. There was no pregnancy and no baby. The woman who had claimed to be pregnant and had chosen us to be her baby’s parents was an experienced con artist. We had become victims of an adoption scam.
Unfortunately, this scenario sometimes happens. Dishonest people prey on those who are vulnerable in an attempt to snag gifts, money and attention from trusting, unsuspecting victims. How do you protect yourselves from an adoption scam? Here are some potential red flags to watch for.
The expectant mom doesn’t ask any questions. When faced with such a difficult decision as adoption, potential birth parents have a lot of questions and concerns. If a pregnant woman contacts you and has no questions for you, it’s definitely fishy. She will usually want to know as much about you as possible in order to determine if you are the right parents for her child. When “Jennifer” contacted us, she never asked me any questions, yet she was certain we were the perfect parents for her baby. It turns out she didn’t need to know anything about us because she was just after money.
The expectant mother is reluctant to contact an adoption professional. When “Jennifer” first called us, she said she was certain we were the right parents for her baby. She told me the date of her scheduled C-section, which was only a week away, and requested that we travel to Texas to be present for the birth. When I asked if she was working with an agency or attorney, she said, “no.” I gave her our agency info and suggested she give them a call to get more information about the adoption process. I told her they could answer her questions about adoption and provide some options of adoption professionals in her home state. She seemed very hesitant. If she were serious about adoption, she would have appreciated any information that could help.
She has an “emergency” or “crisis” and needs you to give her money. If the potential birth mom calls you at an odd hour and says she needs money, that is a big red flag. In our case, this happened at 6 a.m. “Jennifer” called me crying and said she was in the hospital emergency room and had no medical insurance. She claimed she needed insulin for diabetes, but couldn’t afford to pay for her medication. Of course, we agreed to help. However, we knew better than to just give money to a stranger without involving an agency or attorney. So, we again urged her to contact our agency, which she did. She even had someone posing as an attorney contact them as well. But our experienced, reputable agency knew something wasn’t right when the supposed attorney was unknowledgeable about interstate adoptions and seemed clueless about what needed to happen next. They suspected, at the very least, that the potential birth mom may be working with multiple families and urged us to be cautious.
She has contacted other couples and chosen them too. After multiple red flags were raised, I also began to wonder if our situation was legitimate. So, I went to an adoption forum and asked if anyone else had been contacted by a potential birth mom from the city in Texas that “Jennifer” was from. Surprisingly, I got several private messages from other couples that had indeed been contacted by a woman with the same expected due date, same cell phone number, similar situation, but with a different name. This woman was using at least three other names! That is why it’s so important to stay in touch with your adoption agency and also form a network with other hopeful adoptive parents. Together, you can help each other and weed out the scams.
Adoption can be a long, tough road with bumps along the way. It’s all part of the experience. But by educating yourself, working with an experienced adoption professional and remaining as objective as possible, you can indeed have a successful experience.