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Adoption Scams: Crimes of the Heart

Posted On   date13/03/2014

Adoption Scams: Crimes of the Heart

As any adoptive parent will tell you, the journey from wanting a child and actually bringing one home is a long, often heartbreaking one. There are many obstacles along the way and the emotional ramifications can be devastating. Those parents will also tell you that once a child has been adopted, however, all the bumps in the road tend to disappear – replaced by the joy of family connection. Along with guarding their hearts against the inevitable adoption hurdles, parents must lookout for adoption scammers.

Like most fraudsters, adoption scammers take advantage of the vulnerable – and their open wallets. If you are thinking about adopting a child, take a look at these scams you should know about.

The fake birthmother scam: With the prevalence of adoptive parents and prospective birthmothers connecting through online means, fake birthmothers have grown in size and scope. There are many variations of this scam, but all revolve around the mother needing money for something that she claims is related to the pregnancy or baby. Common things these mothers will ask for include money for food, rent, medical bills and automotive repairs. As trust is established between the mother and adoptive parents, the requests for money may grow larger and some scammers will even be bold enough to ask for bank account information. Once the due date approaches, these fraudulent mothers will either “change their minds” about giving the baby up for adoption or disappear completely. The best way to avoid being caught in this trap is to meet the mother in person – even if it means flying somewhere. Pictures online of the pregnancy and through email are not proof that she is pregnant, or even that she is who she says she is. Criminals are hoping to cash in any way possible.  You should always run a background check investigation to confirm her identity.

The fake adoption agency scam: In order to protect themselves, many adoptive parents will seek out an agency to help them find the right match in a birthmother or abandoned child. In most cases, this is a good idea but even then, scams abound. The best way to make sure the fees you are paying in your adoption search are going to a reputable agency is to ask for the state license number and then call your state organization to be sure the agency is legit. Most adoption agencies that are trustworthy will also have a website, though that is not a legal requirement. If you are working with an international adoption agency, hire a firm to run a complete international due diligence on the agency and to confirm for you that it exists and is not a fake storefront.  Even legitimate adoptions can be ruined by a fraudulent or unscrupulous middleman.  Get references, stay skeptical, protect your private information, and visit the agency in person.

If you’re considering adoption from a developing country, such as Russia or the Ukraine, Philippines or Thailand, India or China, be advised there is a higher risk.  It can be hard to verify a company and adoption agency, let alone all the paperwork, when you’re dealing with a foreign country and foreign language.  Hire an attorney and work with a reputable private investigator to verify all the facts.

There are other adoption scams out there, too. Beware of any person or agency who avoids direct questions and does not seem to exist outside of your conversations. Perhaps the best way to protect yourself when it comes to adoption is to join other parent support groups. These adoption support groups will help you navigate the complicated process, and you may make a few friends in the process.

C. Wright
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