Common Adoption Scams

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Birthmother Scams

Most women who say they're considering adoption really are considering adoption. It's only natural that they sometimes change their minds after the baby is born, but it's usually a sincere change of heart.

Very infrequently, though, a pregnant woman or her friends will scam one or more couples, by convincing each couple that they want the couple to adopt the child. The reason? Greed. If they can get several thousand dollars from one family, then they may be able to get even more from another family, and another, and another. Sometimes the woman involved in this scam isn't even pregnant!

Moral: Don't give any money to any pregnant woman directly. And don't give any money to an intermediary until it has been verified that the woman is actually pregnant. If you talk to the pregnant woman directly and she's far more interested in your bottom line than your parenting capabilities, that's a bad sign.

Instead, make sure all financial arrangements are handled by a professional, either an agency worker or an attorney. It's very difficult for most adopting parents to say no to the birthmother of their child—but some financial requests may be inappropriate or even illegal.

The Wrong Child for You

In some cases, the arranger may not have the kind of child you want to adopt, but they don't tell you this. One family stayed with an agency for an astounding 10 years. They told the agency they wanted to adopt a healthy infant, but the agency offered them one child after another with severe disabilities. The agency actively urged them to stay on, because “their child” would surely appear at any time. And, after all, they had so much time invested … Moral: Find out what kind of children (age, race, and so on) the adoption arranger places. If they never (or almost never) place the type of child you want, don't sign up. If you have already signed up, and you have any qualms about it, bail out. Now.

A few arrangers will try to insist that you adopt a child they do have, whether or not the child is right for you. In this scam, the adoption arranger may tell you that there are no children available like the kind you want to adopt. Instead, you should adopt a child from the group that they have.

Moral: Adoption arrangers want to place the children they have experience with placing. But it's immoral and unethical for them to tell you that you can't adopt a child merely because they don't place the sort of child you wish to adopt. Maybe it really would be harder to adopt the child you seek. But if you have your heart set on adopting a particular child, don't go for what would be “second best” in your mind and heart—unless you have a change of mind and heart. You are not doing the child any favors if you really cannot handle his special needs. Seek out other adoption arrangers.

Adoption Alert

If something about your adoption seems wrong and alarm bells are clanging in your head, don't ignore them. Many victims of adoption scams later said they felt that something was wrong at the time but that they ignored their gut feelings.

Talk to others about your fears, such as people in adoptive parent groups or even other agencies or attorneys. They can help you sort out valid fears from silly ones.

False Promises

If an adoption arranger promises to give you a baby within a few months the first time you talk to her, watch out! No reputable arranger would make such a promise, even if they think they could probably fulfill it. They certainly wouldn't make such a promise before you have completed the home study process.

Moral: Many arrangers may be able to place children within a relatively short time, but they usually warn you that situations can change and won't make guarantees. If they don't give you this kind of caveat, don't deal with them.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Adoption © 2004 by Christine Adamec. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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