So what can potential adoptive parents do to avoid scams?
Here a few tips:
1.) Use 800 numbers on your websites, or list your attorney's or agency’s number. This will protect your privacy. It will keep most scammers from contacting you. They won’t want to talk to an attorney.
2.) Be cautious when a birthmother contacts you by e-mail or through a chat room.
Most birthmothers use agencies. Very few are emotionally ready at this time in their lives to go online and look for potential parents themselves. They feel afraid and alone. Most go with an agency because of the support available.
*Do not go into a chat room and type, "I am looking for a birthmother." Or, "Are there any expecting girls in here?" Scammers will take advantage of this situation. If a potential birthmother is honestly looking for potential adoptive parents, she is most likely going to use major adoption websites. She is less likely to search on chat rooms.
*E-mail warning signs: Receiving pictures immediately. E-mails consisting of "hard times" (for example, my car just broke down, I have nowhere to live, my boyfriend just left me etc.) Asking for your phone number right away.
3.) NEVER send money without speaking to the birthmother through your adoption center first.
4.) Once you have make contact with a birthmother, network with others in the adoption community. Blogs, message boards, and online communities are few places that you can find other adoptive families. Tell them about the person who has contacted you and share your stories. Just recently a scam artist was caught this way.
5.) Contact your agency or attorney as soon as possible. If you have been contacted and feel that the birthmother is serious, tell your agency/attorney all the information you have. Ask the potential birthmother to get in contact with your agency/attorney. Make sure to do this before you spend hundreds on phone bills, or invest in planning anything.
The most effective way to avoid being scammed once contact has been made and the agency/attorney is involved is actually quite simple: communication. As early as possible, the birthmother should be getting counseling and support. Don't wait until she is eight months pregnant before she looks at and understands all her options. She might have issues when it gets close to the finalization if she hasn't had enough support or information, and been given the opportunity to evaluate her choices. While birthmother counseling is the agency’s responsibility, you should also make sure that she has the support she needs. Unless she is prepared for what is to come, she might have second thoughts.
Here are a few questions to consider: 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 fully evaluate her reasons, fears, and choices? When a potential birthmother is in counseling prior to the birth of her child, her counselor will learn how the she feels about the adoption. How does her family feel about her making an adoption plan? 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 should be dealt with.
To find out how to adopt safely and successfully, call Lifetime Adoption at (530) 432-7373 or visit LifetimeAdoption.com.