One of the worst things that can happen to a family pursuing adoption is to be involved in an adoption scam. While the vast majority of prospective birth parents are honest and making an adoption plan in the best interest of their child, there are also people who take advantage of hopeful adoptive families. Adoption scams are rare, but it’s important that you’re aware of them if you choose to pursue the private domestic infant adoption process.

But, what exactly is an adoption scam?

Typically, an adoption scam occurs when a prospective adoptive family is approached by a someone who has no or false proof of pregnancy or no intention of actually making an adoption plan. She will usually request emotional and financial support and, after adoptive parents have given her what she wants, she will “disrupt” the adoption and leave adoptive parents out thousands of dollars and with a broken heart.

While adoption scams can make headlines and scare you away from the adoption process, know that the number of successful, honest adoption processes completed is much higher than the number of adoption scams. However, there are also some important steps you can take to prevent these scams from happening to you.

1. Choose a trusted professional.

At American Adoptions, all of our prospective birth parents are screened to ensure that they are genuinely interested in adoption and being matched with a prospective adoptive family. Our counseling services help determine a pregnant woman’s commitment to the adoption process, and we will help mediate initial conversation between you and the prospective birth mother you connect with.

Those who complete an independent adoption without an agency, on the other hand, will take risks in finding a prospective birth mother on their own without these screenings.

We also offer a Financial Risk-Sharing Program, which protects adoptive families from financial losses caused by disruptions and, in rare cases, adoption scams.

2. Get to know prospective birth parents.

One of the best ways to judge a prospective birth parent’s commitment to the adoption process is by getting to know them personally and developing a relationship with them. If a prospective birth mother is serious about her adoption plan, she will want to get to know you to make sure that she is placing her child with the perfect adoptive family. Usually, if a prospective birth mother isn’t honest about her adoption desires, you will be able to tell.

A trained adoption counselor has the professional experience needed to assess a prospective birth mother’s commitment to adoption, and can help guide both parties through the early stages of getting to know one another to create a stronger relationship.

3. Take notes and be aware of any red flags.

As you get to know the birth parents and move through your adoption process, it doesn’t hurt to take notes of what you and the prospective birth mother have talked about. That way, you can start to notice red flags, like drastic changes in her story or her adoption preferences, which could indicate an adoption scam.

4. Never transfer money directly.

When you work with American Adoptions, your adoption specialist will manage the transfer of living expenses and pregnancy-related expenses between you and the prospective birth mother you are working with. If a prospective birth mother requests that you send her money directly, refer her to her adoption specialist. This request can be a red flag for an adoption scam.

5. Be aware of ongoing scams.

As you go through your adoption process, especially if you are trying to find a prospective birth mother without an agency, be knowledgeable of what recent adoption scams look like. These scams tend to follow trends and, when you’re aware of them, you can better avoid becoming a victim of one. It may be a good idea to join online support groups and adoption forums to learn more about common red flags for adoption scams, and you’ll know what patterns to look for.

As mentioned, perhaps one of the best ways to avoid adoption scams is by working with a reputable adoption professional like American Adoptions. To learn more about how our services help you prevent adoption scams and connect you with the perfect prospective birth mother, please call our specialists today at 1-800-ADOPTION.