Adoption Blog

August 16, 2013

Is She For Real? Ten Tips for Identifying and Navigating Adoption Scams

Sometime in the coming days, weeks, or months, a woman may contact you. Conversations will follow and you may both come to know that the baby she is carrying will be your future child. Caution and hesitation will give way to excitement and joy.  Before long, you will welcome a baby into your home and hearts. Your adoption journey will end—and begin. But getting from here to there may not be so easy.

One of the biggest challenges you face is to make your way through calls, emails, and other communications from women who are not carrying your baby, while still remaining open and ready to hear from the woman who is.  Along the way, you may be contacted by women who are pregnant and think that they will place their child for adoption. But ultimately, they will not.  You may be contacted by women who are seriously making an adoption plan, but interviewing many prospective families.  You may like her and she may like you. But still, she may choose someone else. Unfortunately, you may also hear from women who are pregnant with no intention of placing their child for adoption. Instead, they are using their pregnancy to “scam” prospective adoptive parents. And there are others who are not pregnant at all. They are simply emotional or financial scammers trying to take advantage of your desire to be parents.

How do you distinguish between these women so that you maximize your chances of making good contacts with your “real” birthmother, while minimizing the hurt and wasted efforts that can be caused inadvertently - or intentionally - by others? 

It isn’t easy. But here are ten tips to help you along the way:

1.) Don’t go it alone. You should have some trusted adoption advisors on your side. Depending on the laws of the state in which you live and your own style and taste, these may include any/all of the following: adoption social worker/counselor, lawyer, agency.  That said, for the most part, you will be handling communications on your own. But there is never any harm in sharing your connection with a trusted adoption advisor, who more than likely has years and years of experience.

2.) Approach each call assuming that the caller is sincere and honest.

3.) Begin your contacts with warmth, expressing genuine pleasure in hearing from her. 

4.) Listen more than you speak. Pay attention to how she is approaching you.  Don’t be put off if she is shy or inarticulate—an expectant mother is most often a woman in crisis and pain.  Don’t be overly impressed if she is well spoken. “Too good to be true” is often “too good to be true.”

5.) Avoid sounding desperate or too eager to “sell” yourselves. She knows you want to adopt a baby and she has chosen your profile for a reason. You might ask her what it is about your profile that attracted her. Don’t be surprised if her response seems arbitrary. Women sometimes choose parents for their children for what seem to be “random” reasons—she likes your dog or the flowering tree in front of your house.  Be cautious about anyone who does not seem to have read your profile or “does not remember”.

6.) Don’t feel like your first communication needs to be long and involved. Express genuine delight in hearing from her and request future contacts. Then begin waiting to see if she calls again.

7.) If she doesn’t reach out again, don’t take it personally! You will get other inquiries.

8.) You may not hear back from her quickly. Days, even weeks might go by.  In fact, “real” expectant mothers do sometimes come and go.  If she reaches out a second time, begin, as you did before, by letting her know how happy you are to hear from her and listen to what she has to say. 

9.) By your second or third call, you should begin to be getting a sense of her—and she of you. Again, assume she is “real” and the one for you. But avoid getting too emotionally involved. Frequent long phone calls with lots of drama can be a red flag that something is “off” with this person. Don’t be afraid to let her know that, as excited and interested as you are, you cannot text or talk several times a day. Let her know that you will need a proof of pregnancy and that your social worker/agency/lawyer will need medical records.

10.) Always listen carefully for red flags that she may not be being honest with you or she may not be honest with herself.  Someone who is “scamming” may talk more about money than the baby. She may seem much more interested in how you can help her with her electric bill than about the home you will provide for her baby. Someone who is lying to herself, may slip and say something like, “If my parents weren’t pushing me so hard to make an adoption plan…” Pay attention to things that sound off and don’t try to brush them off or rationalize them away.

Working in the field of adoption for over thirty years,  I can say with confidence that it ALWAYS works.  I have never known anyone who truly wanted to adopt that has not succeeded in doing so. Nor have I known anyone who wasn’t convinced that they got the baby that was right for them. However, getting from here to there is never easy.

There is always some stress in the process.  Your early contacts will inevitably bring forth anxiety.  Over time, contacts may get easier or they may not.  What I do think you can count on is that you will grow more secure and confident in your ability to communicate wisely and effectively with the women who contact you. And one of them will be your own, true, “for real” birthmother.

About The Author

Ellen S. Glazer

Ellen Glazer is a social worker by training and a mother through both adoption and birth. She provides counseling or consulting with individuals and couples considering adoption, egg donation, sperm donation, or gestational care. She is the author of The Long Awaited Stork: A Guide to Parenting After Infertility and author or co-author of five other books on infertility. Twitter: @ellenglazer

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About This Adoption Blog

The Adoptimist blog features advice, tips, and inspiration for adoptive parents who are actively pursuing adoption connections online.

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