In today’s world of social media, private adoption has become much more dependent on making sure you have an online profile, often with both your adoption professional as well as on a site like Adoptimist. Although adoption scams have existed for decades, prospective adoptive families are expected to “put themselves out there” more than ever.
Prospective adoptive parents come into adoption in a very vulnerable state and must trust in complete strangers in reaching out to potential birthmothers. Although one might think that most scams are financially motivated, that has not been my observation in my years of experience. Not to say that money is not a motivating/underlying factor in a woman’s decision. A scam can take on many different faces.
A woman who may not even be pregnant can contact prospective adoptive parents “pretending” to be pregnant and can go through great lengths to keep up the ruse. Often these individuals have significant mental health issues and are victimizing a vulnerable population. If they are asking for financial help or saying, “let’s just do this on our own and not use an agency/attorney” then you should be immediately suspicious. It’s surprising how frequently emotional scams occur.
A financial scam would be a situation in which a woman either “promises” her baby to several families and gets financial support from multiple sources or matches with one family and “milks” the family for financial support without ever having the real intention of placing the baby for adoption. This situation can be trickier to manage on multiple levels. First, she is truly pregnant. Second, she is struggling financially and can demonstrate financial need to the adoption professional. This is where it becomes important to listen to your adoption professional and to make sure the counselor/adoption service provider is assessing the birthmother’s mental state and motivation. There are definitely situations out there where a woman or a couple truly cannot financially support a baby (or another baby). They may begin the process of planning to place the baby for adoption, but emotional just can’t bring themselves to go through with the placement. When this happens, the prospective adoptive parents will absolutely feel like they have been scammed, especially if they provided financial support. However, just because a potential birthmom has opted not to place, it doesn’t mean that she was a scam.
Again, this is why counseling is important and why getting to know the birthmom a bit during the match is helpful. As much as your agency or attorney may be involved, your own gut feelings also come into play in assessing the situation. By the same token, because you are in that vulnerable state, it is often hard to say “no” to any situation, and it is also difficult to keep yourself from saying “yes” to any situation that sounds risky!!! Just remember, if everything were perfect in a potential birthmother’s life, she probably wouldn’t be considering adoption.