The adoption journey is exciting and suspenseful at it’s best. At it’s worst, the journey can be heartbreaking. As with any relationship you enter into, there are unequivocally instances of deception and scams that are hard to spot. These deceptions can occur with birth parents, adoptive parents, and agencies. No one is immune to risk in an adoption journey. When we speak of adoption scams, these are typically referring to and characterized by a birth parent or parents committing to place their child with an adoptive parent or parents but never intending to do so. They may commit to placing their child with multiple families while receiving financial assistance from each. It’s important to note that while scams do occur, this is not a reason to be untrusting in all cases. Most birth parents are not trying to scam anyone or wishing anyone ill will. It is, however, most important to know the signs of a scam so you can breathe a bit easier in their situation.  

A few years ago, my husband and I were looking for a home to rent and found a beautiful house online. We emailed the homeowner, who quickly emailed us back. He noted that the home was still available, but we could not see the house, as he lived in another state. He stated that we could drive by and look through the windows if we wanted. He would rent it to us for cheap, and we didn’t have to submit any paperwork! All we had to do was mail him a $1,000 deposit, and he would mail us the key. Simple, right? If, like me, you wouldn’t buy this email for a second, you have a head start in identifying adoption scams. Many scammers will reply to messages or profiles with very general emails. You can tell they haven’t really taken the time to read your profile, and the information they include seems too general and too good to be true.

The Signs

There are some common and glaring signs of adoption scams to be mindful of and keep your eyes open for. If a birth parent reaches out, take the time to search his or her name and email address on the internet. The birth parent’s information may be listed on forums warning others of scams. Also do a reverse image search of any pictures sent to see if it can be found on any other website and easily used as a tool for deception. Take the time to do your due diligence, and utilize your adoption agency or attorney for all your interactions with prospective matches.

If a birth parent asks for money right away, that can also be a sign of a play for financial assistance. While financial assistance is often part of the adoption process, this should only go through an adoption agency or attorney. Another sign of a scam can be lack of communication. It can indicate indecisiveness, but it can also be a sign that the birth parent does not want to divulge too much information and blow the scam. If a birth mother refuses to provide proof of pregnancy or speak with your agency, it’s wise to keep up your guard.

Click here for more tips on avoiding internet adoption scams.