If you’ve tuned into the news recently — whether on the radio, TV or social media — you might have heard about recent adoption scam stories. In response to these, we’d like to shed some light on what adoption scams are, how they can occur and what American Adoptions does to minimize risks for adoptive families.

Although adoption scams are usually few and far between, there are some things that you should be aware of to reduce the chances of becoming an unsuspecting victim. The first? That working with American Adoptions can be one of the best ways to protect yourself.

What is an Adoption Scam?

In most adoption scams, a woman who claims to be pregnant will reach out to an adoptive family or another adoption professional to place her child for adoption. In reality, she isn’t actually pregnant or has no plans of pursuing adoption and is only looking for money or emotional support.

Although scams can happen through an adoption agency, families that rely on advertisements or networking to find a prospective birth mother are easy prey. Many of them are so excited about the opportunity they’ve stumbled upon that they forget to keep an eye out for red flags. Later, they realize that they’ve become the victim of an adoption scammer.

In fact, that’s what exactly happened to the three couples below.

False Adoption Advertising

Two hopeful adoptive couples, Samantha and Dave Stewart and Alyssa and Isaac Short, made a connection with a prospective birth mother through Instagram. Another couple in South Carolina believed they found their perfect opportunity through an adoption agency.

Unfortunately, all three were eventually blindsided by the realization that their adoption dreams were never going to come true with these women.

The prospective birth mothers these couples thought they knew never really existed. Instead, they connected with women who had created fake identities or stolen someone else’s to coax emotional or financial investment out of the hopeful parents.

Once the jig was up, the prospective birth mother stopped responding, leaving the adoptive parents in limbo — and out of luck. All of a sudden, their hopes and dreams of starting a family with that opportunity were over.

While the internet can aid pre-placement adoption contact, it has also made it easier for adoption scammers to target unsuspecting families. In fact, there are many stories of families falling victim to adoption scams through social media. Some of these women will even connect with multiple families at once.

To reduce the chance of becoming a victim of an adoption scam, here are some things to watch out for:

  • A prospective birth mother who seems reluctant to provide a proof of pregnancy
  • Direct requests for money
  • A prospective birth mother’s reluctance to use the services of an adoption attorney or agency
  • A prospective birth mother’s story that keeps changing the longer you’re in contact

Unfortunately, anyone can be the victim of an adoption scam. The best way to prevent them is through education. If you have a feeling that something isn’t right, trust your instincts. With the right tools, you can minimize the chances that an adoption scam will happen to you.

How American Adoptions Minimizes Risks

Reading adoption fraud stories can make hopeful families understandably guarded. But, as we’ve mentioned earlier, there are numerous ways to reduce the likelihood of them happening. The best way is by working with a licensed adoption agency, such as American Adoptions.

At American Adoptions, all prospective birth mothers are screened before they’re matched with an adoptive family. We ensure their commitment to the adoption by:

  • Building personal relationships: When a prospective birth mother works with our agency, she is assigned her own adoption specialist. Her specialist will gauge her feelings about adoption at different checkpoints throughout the process to reduce the likelihood of surprises later on.
  • Evaluating social medial history: One of the first things that a pregnant woman is asked to do when she joins our agency is fill out a social medical history form. This form helps the adoption specialist learn more about her and her situation, as well as her goals for an adoption.
  • Connecting with other adoption professionals: To prevent scammers from targeting adoptive families, American Adoptions uses scam records and networks with other adoption professionals to be aware of recent scams and typical warning signs.

Even with these preventative measures, sometimes prospective birth mothers change their minds after matching with a family. In the event that a disruption or an adoption scam does occur, American Adoptions always reimburses our families for certain costs through our Risk-Sharing Program.

Protect Yourself in an Adoption

Adoption scams are an unfortunate reality that adoptive families need to be aware of. If you know what to look for, they can be easy to spot. Reading others’ stories can familiarize you with the tricks that adoption scammers are prone to use on families.

If you are considering an independent adoption, be sure to do plenty of research before making any promises with a potential birth mother. If you choose to work with our agency and have any questions about ways that you can prevent adoption scams or other red flags to watch for, please reach out to your adoption specialist.