Adoption can be an emotional journey for many. Finding out that a birth mother is interested in you as adoptive parents to her baby is one of the most exciting parts of the adoption process. Unfortunately, some people will take advantage of hopeful adoptive parents during this emotional time. While adoption scams are rare, they do happen on occasion.
So that you can adopt a baby safely and successfully, it’s important to be aware of the most common types of adoption scams and red flags to watch out for. Join Lifetime Christian Adoption as we share four of the most common types of adoption scams, so that they won’t happen to you! They do not always mean fraud so use your intuition and judgment, but they may help you identify a scammer.
Many prospective birth mothers are legitimately desperate for money and may look to prospective adoptive parents to help with expenses. This is not unusual. After all, she is doing the hard work of carrying the baby only to place him or her for adoption.
However, other women are like wolves in sheep’s clothing, and the Bible warns us to be on our guard against such people. They claim to be birth mothers but may not be pregnant at all; they’re just trying to get potential adoptive parents to send them money.
Four Types of Adoption Scams & How to Spot Them
1. The Avoider
Someone who does not want to give you contact information and insists you communicate by email could be a birth mother running a scam or may not even be pregnant. Carefully question any prospective birth mother who contacts you directly and prefers to work only through you. She may be afraid that an adoption professional will see right through her. A woman who is sincere about placing her child should be willing to provide her contact information and speak to your adoption professional.
2. The Sweet Talker
Be very cautious of the birth mother who overdoes it with compliments. She might say things like, “You’re so cute” or “You two make the perfect couple!” Her charm is her way of luring you into a sense of security before she demands money.
3. The Puppy Dog Sale
This scam involves accepting money from multiple families with no intention of placing the child for adoption. A few days after placing the child in the care of a prospective adoptive family, the birth mother demands more money. She knows that the adoptive couple has emotionally bonded with the child, and so they’re more likely to pay up. The next day she says she’s changed her mind and then takes the child to her next victim.
4. Psychological Fraud
Some perpetrators may not be birth mothers at all! They commit fraud not because of the money, but for attention or to cause harm. They’re desperately lonely and require psychological help. They know emotionally fragile adoptive parents will care deeply about them and talk to them when they call. They manipulate their victims into longing for the child and then harass them by threatening they’ll change their minds. The game stops when they are asked to document the pregnancy or to meet in person.
In addition, be cautious of the following “red flags” to watch for in birth mothers:
- Matches with you too quickly
- Will only agree to an adoption match if you send money
- Immediately asks for help with expenses
- Doesn’t show any interest in you or your family
- Makes you feel desperate
- Appears to be emotionally fragile
- Warns you that she’ll get an abortion or choose another family if you don’t send money
- Tells incredible and convincing hard-luck stories
- Seems detached from the pregnancy
- Focuses not on the baby but on herself
- Won’t let you speak to her doctor or tell you where she’s getting prenatal care
- Cries uncontrollably until you ask how much money she needs
As Christians, we often want to believe the best of people and that they are sincere, but we need to be alert. Don’t be in such a rush to adopt that you ignore important warning signs of common adoption scams. Some people really are wolves in sheep’s clothing, and we need to be discerning.
Attempted fraud certainly does exist, and one must be careful. But such perpetrators actually pull off only a few of these scams. Lifetime has around a 95% success rate of the hundreds of adoptions we have completed through our center. Don’t be afraid to adopt, but be aware of the warning signs.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on July 15, 2018, and has since been updated.