Recently in the news was the story of a Tucson Woman Sentenced to Jail, Probation in Adoption Fraud Case. The scammer kept the births of her twins a secret, then pretended to still be pregnant in order to get money from a hopeful adoptive couple.
Lifetime Adoption wants to help you avoid such heartbreak. We’ve been proven to keep these very types of adoption frauds and scams at bay before they even get started. At Lifetime, we know that more education and awareness about adoption has proven to stop adoption scams and frauds before they can occur. Our Founder Mardie Caldwell is an adoptive mother herself, and shares, “I know how emotional adoption can be, and keeping adoptive parents safe is key to our success.”
Read on to discover 5 warning signs that you might be dealing with an adoption scam…
1. Adoption Situations from Nigeria or Cameroon
Hopeful adoptive couples who have online profiles or advertising will get emailed about an adoption situation from one of these countries. In the email, money is requested to help with travel or to move the adoption along. The story sounds desperate but often is a complete fraud. Another variation of this scam involves someone in Great Britain who will help secure the money and travel.
2. Twins or Multiples
The adoption of twins or triplets seems perfect – you can complete your family with just one adoption! This is why it works well as an adoption scam. But, the “birth mother” usually will not want to speak with your adoption professional or attorney. Mardie’s words of advice? “In my experience, I have seen many scams like this that involved doctored ultrasound images, ultrasound images that were purchased online, or medical records that were completely made at home! Don’t just believe an ultrasound photo, especially if it does not have the patient’s name on it – that is a dead giveaway!”
3. Urgent Need for Money
People posing as birth parents tell you they need money immediately, often threatening to call another family if you don’t comply. Never provide money unless it is with the permission of your attorney and adoption professional. And, when possible, pay the expenses directly to the vendor, such as the electric company or landlord.
4. Offers of a Step-Parent Adoption
Sometimes a birth mother will offer to put your husband’s name on the birth certificate, and then you can do a step-parent adoption. She tells you she wants to do it this way to save your family money. After all, you wouldn’t need a home study or a lawyer or even worry about interstate compact if the adoption crosses state lines. This is risky business! If the birth mother changes her mind, she has a birth certificate with his name and signature on it that she can then take to court and demand child support. To fight it, he has to admit he lied when signing the document. Needless to say, this is not a shortcut to anything.
5. Already Matched But Wants You
When a birth parent is matched with a family, they owe it to the family to let them know that they will not be moving forward. Many times a birth parent winds up taking money from the first family, and when it ran out, says she is going to parent and then moves on to new prey. When Lifetime gets an inquiry like this, we ask questions like “What is different about this new family?” “Have you told the original family?” and “Have you accepted money from the first family?” Remember, if she left them, she could leave you too!
If these tips on avoiding adoption fraud and scams were helpful, you might consider also reading Lifetime’s additional articles, Adoption Scams and How to Avoid Them, Adoption Scams and Fraud, and 5 Tips to Avoid Adoption Scams.
At Lifetime Adoption, we provide our adoptive parents with lots of educational info on adoption, including how to avoid scams.
We also have a team of adoption experts trained to spot scams and stop them, before the scammer even gets the chance to speak with one of our adoptive couples!
As Vice President of Lifetime Adoption, Heather Featherston holds an MBA and is passionate about working with those facing adoption, pregnancy, and parenting issues. Heather has conducted training for birth parent advocates, spoken to professional groups, and has appeared on television and radio to discuss the multiple aspects of adoption. She has provided one-on-one support to women and hopeful adoptive parents working through adoption decisions.
Since 2002, she has been helping pregnant women and others in crisis to learn more about adoption. Heather also trains and speaks nationwide to pregnancy clinics to effectively meet the needs of women who want to explore adoption for their child. Today, she continues to address the concerns women have about adoption and supports the needs of women who choose adoption for their child.
As a published author of the book Called to Adoption, Featherston loves to see God’s hand at work every day as she helps children and families come together through adoption.