Scam. I’ve been scammed! I sent my money to a Nigerian prince, only to find out there is no Nigerian prince. I sent money to the IRS because they were threatening me with arrest. Only later did I find out it wasn’t really the IRS. I thought I was in love, and my man ran into some trouble overseas and needed money to pay a hospital bill. You know the outcome…it was a scam!
Adoption scams have been around for a long time as well.
Typically, this will involve a woman either pretending to be pregnant, or in some cases actually is pregnant, promising the baby to multiple potential adoptive parents. In the traditional scam, she will take money for living expenses from these families, only to have a change of heart when the due date comes and goes.
Of course, this is highly illegal. It is a Level 6 felony in Indiana. And most agencies, attorneys, and prospective adoptive families are on the alert for these.
But what if the payoff for the scammer is not money? What if the payoff is your time and attention?
As the use of social media becomes more and more prevalent in connecting expectant families to potential adoptive families, the possibilities for fraud also becomes more common. Recently the term “emotional scam” has entered the conversation after the promise of a baby being born “in the next couple of days” is offered to potential adoptive families without the request for money.
In these scenarios, an expectant mom reaches out over social media and begins talking with a prospective adoptive family directly. Usually the conversation goes very well and seems to be legitimate. The adoptive family begins scrambling to make plans to travel to another state, engage an attorney or agency in that state, and make arrangements for an adoption to happen!
Of course, there comes a point where the story falls apart. Maybe the potential family encourages the scammer to contact their agency or attorney. Maybe the potential family suggests a meeting and is met with resistance. Maybe the instincts of the potential family kicks in and they simply block this person from their phone and social media accounts.
No money has changed hands. Where’s the harm?
For anyone trying to adopt, the harm seems obvious. Hopes and dreams are on the line! The thought that someone choseyou, wantsyou, and thinks you will be great parents is the validation you have been looking for! It’s the next step in getting a baby. It’s the next step to parenthood.
For the scammer, the payoff is the attention that is received. It’s the listening ear, the sympathy, the time.
It’s the mental illness.
The good news is that families hoping to adopt and who are working with reputable professionals have support and emotional reserves on which to draw that will carry them through until their baby is in their home. The time spent with someone trying to scam them will pass and someday be a distant memory.
The scammer will be left looking for the next attention fix—scouring the internet for the next vulnerable person who will ease their loneliness and pain.
If you are not certain about a potential adoption situation, please contact your agency, attorney, or home study provider. The process of adoption is difficult, but you don’t have to go through it alone.