What You Should Know About Adoption Scams by Courtney Frey (Birthmother)
I have just watched it happen again. Horrified, I see two precious little girls thrown into a whirlwind of injustice. I see the media run wild to cover each detail, as the voices of everyone involved speak their sides. As each day passes, opinions are formed or reinstated, and adoption continues to suffer the blows of yet another tragic ordeal.
As a birthmother I write this with one intention. I too am repulsed. For all the birthmothers across this nation who relinquished their children for the right reasons and proceeded into the adoptions with good hearts and with honor, I am speaking now. I will not sit by and watch loving birthmothers suffer prejudice and hate because of the few women who attempt to destroy the purity of adoption. Our pain and our loss is great enough without being slapped in the face by society's reaction to a travesty we had nothing to do with.
The Great Scam's of adoption... ugly and cruel. And as the Internet becomes used more and more for adoption, scam's are seeping in un-noticed. So what can we do?
Here a few practical pieces of advice for adopting couples searching for birthparents.
1.)Use 1-800 numbers on your websites, or list your attorney's or agencies number. This will protect you from anyone finding out where you live. It will also keep most scam artists from contacting you. They don't want to talk to an attorney.
2.)Be leery when you are approached via e-mail or through a chat room.
In all honesty, most birthmothers use agencies. Very few have the emotional capacity at this time in their journey to get on-line and look for potential parents themselves. They are afraid, alone, and very emotional. Most lean towards an agency because of the support they are able to offer.
* Do not go into a chatroom and write, "I am looking for a birthmother. "Or, "Are there any expecting girls in here? "This is like standing on a street corner holding wads of cash out. Scammers will see that and jump on it. If a potential birthmother is honestly looking for potential adoptive parents she is most likely going to use major adoption sites. She is less likely to search via chat rooms.
* via e-mail:warning signs:Receiving pictures right away. E-mails consisting of "hard times" (for example, my car just broke down, I have no where to live, my boyfriend just left me etc. ) Asking for your phone number right away.
3.) NEVER send money.
4.) Once you have been contacted, network with others in the adoption community. Tell them about the person who has contacted you, share your stories. The on-line community is actually quite close and if you use each other to keep an eye out, you're more likely to be safe. Just recently a scam artist was caught this way.
5.) Get your agency or your attorney involved as quickly as possible. If you have been contacted and feel that the woman is serious, tell your agency/attorney all the information you have. Ask the potential birthmother to get in contact with the agency/attorney. Do this before you spend hundreds of dollars on phone bills, or invest in planning anything.
The best way to avoid being scammed once contact has been secured and the agency/attorney is involved is actually quite simple. Communication. As early as possible the potential birthmother should be getting counseling and support. Don't let her wait until she is eight months pregnant before she looks at and understands all her options. If she hasn't had adequate support or information, and been given the opportunity to evaluate her choices, this might cause her to question herself when it gets close to the finalization. While this is the agencies responsibility, you must as well make sure for yourself, that this has happened. We are naive in thinking that she will not have second thoughts unless she's been prepared for what is to come.
Has she spoken with professionals in the field of single parenting? Has she been given information and resources on motherhood? Is she fully supported regardless of her decision? Has she been given the time and the opportunity to honestly evaluate her reasons, fears, and choices? Usually, when a potential birthmother is in counseling BEFORE the birth of her child, if the counselor is a good counselor, he or she will come to know where the potential birthmothers heart is. What about her family? Is it an option to speak with her parents and find out how they feel and where they stand? They know her better than any agency or attorney. Why are they not supporting her if she chooses to raise her child? These are all questions that must be addressed.
One of the greatest fears that potential adoptive parents has is the birthmother changing her mind. But this fear is not based on the birthmother and/or who she is, but rather an illusion of, although very valid, what ifs. Fear can be a strong wall. Attempt to eradicate your fears of what if and put those fears to use by getting more information, making sure she's received the best of support, and communicating with her about these fears. Know that she might change her mind, this is her right. Prepare yourselves for that. If you have done a thorough job, as well as your agency/attorney, the birthmother changing her mind will not, at least, should not, be a surprise. Her changing her mind at this point, is not a scam. If she has received no monetary funds or financial support, this is a decision from her heart. And she has every right to it. While is it heartbreaking for you, these are the risks all must take. But know she does not do it to hurt or to pain you.
In closing I want to add:We cannot fear that which we do not know. Fear is an illusion we accept based on conclusions from either society or our own insecurities. So arm yourselves with knowledge. Know that you can take steps to avoid disaster, and when disaster cannot be avoided, know that you prepared for it and are strong enough to deal with it. Do not act in fear, but in knowledge.
Don't let these stories of tragedy ruin what adoption is and desires to be. If we put the same attention on good adoptions as we did on the bad... this article would not even be necessary.
On that note I want to give honor to those adoptions that have been of positive influence and witness to those around us in the on-line adoption community. Thank you, to each and every one who have shared your hearts and your stories with us so that we might have hope and know the promise of adoption.