Adoption Scam

An adoption scam can occur with birthmothers-to-be, adoptive parents, or adoption professionals.

It could be an adoption agency or facilitator that charges exorbitant fees or accepts money for services never provided.

It may also be an adoption agency misrepresentation of a child's emotional and physical history or background.

Another common adoption scam is where the expectant or biological parent accepts money for expenses from more than one prospective adoptive parent, with or without any intention of completing the adoption process.

Some people seeking to adopt can become overly enthusiastic once they start to receive information about a potential adoption, or even become desperate to the point that they are vulnerable to being scammed when they push aside logic and follow their hearts.

Filled with hope, victims often decorate nurseries, renovate their homes, or buy bigger houses. Some plan for maternity leave or even quit their jobs.

Victims can recover from the financial loss of an adoption scam, however the emotional trauma can last a lifetime.

Types of Adoption Scams

Birthmother Adoption Scam

1. Usually the motivation for the birthmother scam is to take your money for rent, food, etc.  Only give money to a birthmother-to-be through an attorney or qualified adoption professional. Do not give money directly to a birthmother

2. A  birthmother may not even be pregnant or could be pregnant and has other plans for the baby, including keeping the baby or promising the baby to several waiting adoptive parents

3. The birthmother has had at least one or more crisis in her life and she sees you as part of the solution.  This can include sad stories such as rape and incest.  Be sensitive, but also use common sense

4. The birthmother offers a plan to bring the baby to you. Birthmothers usually want you to meet her and arrange to receive the baby at the hospital. This ploy is used to get a plane ticket which can be cashed in later. Do not give anyone a plane ticket.  Some adopting parents have lost money by purchasing a plane ticket and never hearing from the supposed, birthmother again

5. Proof of pregnancy is agreed upon, but never seems to arrive.   She seems to always have a reason for not sending you identifying information or cannot believe that you have not received the information. A sudden miscarriage or hospitalization can happen when you request too much information

6. The birthmother does not want you to contact anyone else concerning her pregnancy. She does not feel comfortable meeting or talking with an attorney or other adoption professional.  She has had a bad experience with an attorney and does not want to work with them again

7. The birthmother will evade certain details regarding medical attention, signing parental rights, contacting social services or adoption professionals

8. The birthmother changes her story about the pregnancy or her situation. If a birthmother is talking to several adoptive parents, her story can change because she cannot remember what she said to you

9. Fake birthmothers are very willing to match quickly and will say you are perfect, without knowing much about you

Parents Adoption Scam

adoption scam

1. Adopting parents that make demands rather than requests and make you feel second rate.

2. A family that does not return your emails or phone calls

3. A family that seems like they are desperate and will do anything to get your baby

Adoption Professional Scams

1. Beware of any adoption professional on the Internet who cannot provide you with information

2. You are asked for the total adoption fee upfront

3. The agency offers you a 'quick' adoption

Red Flags of an Adoption Scam

  • You are asked to pay the total adoption fee up front. You should only pay the application fee initially, and then the balance by installments
  • The adoption agency advises it can arrange a quick adoption. It may also say its children are more cute or from better backgrounds than other agencies
  • When you ask to see the adoption agency license number, you are shown a certificate - which is not a license. An adoption agency must have a license
  • You are given a tight time frame to make a decision on a prospective child. You should take a week to decide as it is an important decision
  • When you are researching the agency, you ask for the details of some adoptive parents as references, and you are told that is not possible due to privacy issues. If the agency has done a good job in the past, some adoptive parents should be happy to act as references
  • Has a website that doesn't provide details on the staff or provide a physical address
  • Sends out regular emails advising of children that are available immediately
  • Doesn't get proof of pregnancy and doesn't get release of medical information prior to a match
  • Guarantees a placement within a certain amount of time        

Avoid an Adoption Scam with this Adoption Agency Checklist

This checklist below is from and provides an adoption agency selection checklist. The more questions you can give a yes compared to other agencies, the better.

  • Do the agency web site and advertisements make it clear that the agency only does fully open, fully identified adoptions?
  • Is this agency easy to drive to from your home?
  • Do you have a friend who knows or has used this agency and gives it a very high recommendation?
  • Are there other agencies in you local Yellow Pages who have much larger Yellow Page ads under the adoption heading?
  • Is the agency a church affiliated agency or is it over 30 years old?
  • Does the agency encourage maternity clients to parent and also offer free support and guidance in how to parent a child?
  • Did the agency staff make it clear that they prefer to do fully open adoptions and rarely, if at all, will they serve an adopting family wanting less than a fully open adoption?
  • Did agency staff accurately define open adoption as involving no secrets between birth and adopting families and ongoing, direct, in-person contact between them?
  • Does the agency strongly recommend, or even require, several counseling sessions by their staff before a maternity client starts considering the selection of a family for their child?
  • Does the agency require a minimum of 10 hours of training and counseling for all adopting parents before they are approved for placement?
  • Does the agency encourage matching between birth and adopting families who live close enough to each other for easy visits?
  • Does the agency have fully identified resumes by families adopting, with full names and addresses as well as local phone numbers on them, freely available for the selection process?
  • Does the agency always allow maternity clients selecting a family for their child to be able to study every waiting family available in the agency for their child and almost never limit maternity clients to selecting from a few waiting families chosen by agency staff?
  • Does the agency provide a copy of their fee agreement for adopting parents with a clearly stated refund policy along with a clarification that donations cannot be accepted during the adoption process?
  • Does the original adopting parent fee include money for all maternity client expenses anticipated with only the agency paying all such expenses, even if they go above the set amount?
  • Is the agency a member of the Child Welfare League of America?
  • Is the race of the child expected, one of the last questions?

Advice to Avoid an Adoption Scam

  • Always use a licensed adoption agency, facilitator or attorney
  • Reference check the adoption agency, facilitator or attorney
  • Verify all facts given you by a prospective birthmother
  • Be wary of international adoption agencies, especially if they are Internet based. The scammers operating these request money to be wired to a fictitious church or orphanage in a third country, and once that is done, the email and cell phone contact stop [both being disposable]
  • For international adoptions, check with the U.S. Department of State for tips and more information
  • Further information on an adoption scam

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