The process of open adoption is a rewarding and emotional journey. The last thing we want is for any of our clients to fall victim to an adoption scam.
The vast majority of birth mothers who contact us are legitimate. However, each year, scam artists do make contact with a few of our clients.
Historically, Lifetime has done an excellent job of protecting clients from scams. In fact, most times we shut down a scammer’s activities within 24 hours. Our goal is to stop the process before people become emotionally hurt or lose money.
Lifetime’s Birthmother Coordinators speak to hundreds of potential birth parents each year. This experience enables our team to recognize “red flags,” sometimes within minutes of speaking with someone. While it is essential to be open and receptive to any potential birth parent that contacts you, it’s smart to allow the staff at Lifetime Adoption Agency to assess the situation objectively and thoroughly. Remember to call Lifetime whenever a potential birthparent contacts you.
Here are 5 tips to keep in mind in order to avoid adoption scams:
1. Requests Money
Never give funds of any kind to a birth parent unless an Adoption Coordinator at Lifetime has approved it. (FYI: many states limit the amount of money that can be given to birthmothers) A scam situation typically involves someone trying to take your money, but they can also be what is referred to as an emotional scammer. The following are examples of scams that we have come in contact with.
A birth parent may contact you on a holiday, weekend or late at night needing money immediately for food, housing or car repairs. This type of “crisis call” is geared to catch you off guard. Please direct the birth parents to call Lifetime. We will connect the birth parents to an emergency referral.
A birth parent may give you conflicting information. She may be genuinely confused because she is speaking with several families and cannot keep her details straight.
A birth parent offers to bring a baby to you contingent upon a plane ticket or money for a plane or bus fare. This is a typical ploy to take your money. Even if the situation is legitimate, some states do not allow this type of assistance. Do not take chances. Contact your Coordinator at Lifetime before providing transportation for anyone.
Twins or triplets is frequently a sign of a scam. Do not accept faxed or emailed “‘proof of pregnancy” or a sonogram picture. We will confirm the pregnancy directly with the healthcare provider with a legal release of information.
3. Use Caution if You Get an Outrageous Story
Some scam situations have nothing to do with money. We refer to these as emotional scams. These scams are usually accompanied by an extreme crisis, complex emotional states and/or emergency medical emotional issues. A birth parent may keep you on the phone for several hours at a time or send you dozens of texts a day. Stories may be very sad and include rape and incest or involved stories of their own adoption. This type of scam involves your emotions, heart and time. Be sensitive, but refer the birthparent to Lifetime for professional counseling and support rather than trying to provide it on your own.
4. Doesn’t Want Adoption Professionals Involved
A birth parent may request that your adoption professional remains uninvolved with the adoption due to a negative relationship with the staff or a past bad experience with an adoption agency. This is a red flag: a scam birth mother will not want to talk to a professional counselor for fear of being “discovered.” Lifetime’s professional support and guidance will facilitate a successful adoption.
A birth parent may state that she’s choosing you at the last minute because a family or agency that she has been working with recently rejected her. This is often a tactic used to get you to move quickly and provide financial support. While it may be true that the birth parent has recently ceased working with an adoptive family or agency, the disruption most likely occurred for a valid reason. It may be that the birthparent demanded money shortly before the birth or after delivery, or the agency may have asked too many questions in an attempt to verify the birthparent’s situation.
5. Only Interested in Your Spouse
You may encounter a birth parent who shows an extreme amount of interest in your spouse, including wanting to only speak with him/her or wanting to know intimate facts about that person. This is not normal. Do not allow a birth parent to manipulate the situation. Refer the birthparent to Lifetime Adoption Agency.