tips for avoiding an adoption scam

You’ve decided to adopt. You are beyond excited. You hire an adoption attorney or sign up with an agency. Often the next step is to let the world know that you want to adopt–you especially want any expectant moms who may be considering adoption to know that you are a great family and would be wonderful parents to her child. When telling the world, however, you are also telling would-be scammers.

Scams in adoption are not common, but they are something that all prospective adoptive parents should be aware of. When working with an adoption agency or adoption attorney, they will be your guide in avoiding scams. These tips are directed primarily at the adoptive parents that are advertising on their own for an expectant woman who might be considering adoption.

As long as we are talking about scams, it is also important for adoptive parents to realize that it is not only adoptive parents that can be scammed. Expectant women are especially vulnerable to “scams” or false promises from either adoption professionals or adoptive parents. For example, promising a degree of openness that the adoptive parents are not completely committed to, not sharing possibly relevant health information on the prospective adoptive parents, etc. If we are concerned about scams against us, we must commit ourselves to not perpetrating a scam on the expectant parents.

Tips for Avoiding an Adoption Scam

  1. When first contacted by an expectant woman who is considering adoption, have her contact your adoption agency or adoption attorney or get her permission for them to contact her. Procrastination in contacting your agency or attorney is a major warning sign.
  2. Google the woman’s name, email, or any other contact information to see what information is available online for her. If you feel squeamish, just realize that she is probably doing the same on you.
  3. Early in the adoption process have the expectant woman sign a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant medical release for access to her pregnancy medical records from her obstetrician. Request her records immediately. Procrastination in signing this form is a warning sign.
  4. Early in the adoption process meet her in person if possible so you can evaluate her motives and intent with the benefit of body language. Procrastination in setting up and following through with this meeting is a major warning sign.
  5. Don’t share a great deal of personal identifying information with the expectant mom until after the in-person meeting and never online.
  6. States differ significantly on what type of expenses are allowed to be paid to an expectant mom considering adoption. Payments for allowable prospective birth parent expenses should be made from your adoption professional (adoption agency or adoption attorney) and should be paid directly to the provider, not to the expectant woman herself. For example, if the state you are in allows adoptive parents to pay the expectant mother’s rent, it should be paid directly to the landlord.
  7. With the prospective birth mother’s permission, ask the doctor to perform routine drug tests. Keep in mind that alcohol use is much more difficult to detect.
  8. Make certain that your adoption professional offers the expectant mother counseling, and pays for it with no expectation that she will have to reimburse if she changes her mind. It is not necessarily a major warning sign if she refuses counseling, but most women who are perpetrating a scam will not accept counseling.
  9. If you have suspicions, search for her name on the online adoption scam groups or post a general question in an adoption forum.
  10. Trust your gut. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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