After seeing this article about an adoption scam in Pennsylvania last week, we decided to talk a little about adoption scams and how to avoid them. Although they are infrequent, they do happen and often make the news when they do.

Usually in an adoption scam, a woman will contact a family or adoption professional without a proof of pregnancy, or with a false proof of pregnancy, and request money for living expenses. Sometimes the way in which a woman asks for the money to be delivered might be questionable, such as a direct wire rather than as assistance in paying a vendor (such as a landlord or cell phone service provider).

Couples who pursue an identified adoption, or one in which they find the birth mother themselves by placing ads or networking with people they know or don’t know, are often more susceptible to scammers. Since these couples must handle all direct contact with potential birth parents, they have to also “vet” birth parents themselves.

One of the benefits of working with an agency like American Adoptions is that we handle all initial contact and take the time to counsel birth mothers and understand their pregnancy situation before we help them choose an adoptive couple. And even if a couple were to experience a disruption due to an adoption scam, American Adoptions helps to cover any lost adoption expenses with our Limited-Risk Program.

Additionally, American Adoptions keeps scam records and networks with other adoption attorneys and professionals and local/state law enforcement to try to ensure that an adoption scammer can’t continue to target adoptive families.

An adoption scam could happen to anyone, but working with an experienced agency can help to lower your risk. Our own Executive Director Shawn Kane experienced a scam during his adoption journey. Since Kane and his wife chose not to work with our agency to avoid professional and personal conflict, they pursued adoption with the help of an adoption attorney. One potential birth mother they were contacted by ended up being a scam. Thankfully, they were able to move forward and now have a daughter and a great relationship with her birth mother.

If you experience an adoption scam, be sure to contact your adoption professional and local authorities who can help you open a case and perhaps connect your case to another.