In 2000, an adoption facilitator offered biracial twins for adoption on the Internet. Several families wanted to adopt the twins. The story is far too complicated to describe in all its details here, but basically, the twins were given to one family, then were taken away from them and given to another family. The babies were later removed from the second family and placed in the foster care system before they were finally adopted, three years later.
Each of an unknown number of families (except for the family who finally adopted the children) paid the adoption facilitator money to adopt the twins, and none of the families got any of their money back. In fact, they spent even more money on legal fees. In 2004, the birthmother sought to overturn the adoption and regain legal custody of the twins. Because this case is so confusing (and I'm no attorney), it's impossible to know how it'll turn out. One hopes, however, that whatever is best for the twins will be the outcome.
This is just one of the adoption scams that have been orchestrated via the Internet. No one knows how many occur or how often they happen. Many people are embarrassed to tell others that they've been scammed and, consequently, it's never reported.
To avoid finding yourself a victim of such a scam, watch out for these warning signs:
- The organization openly promises babies can be adopted very easily and quickly (legitimate adoption organizations rarely make such promises).
- The organization requires a significant up-front payment, such as $25,000 or more, before a home study is done.
- The website indicates that you must act NOW or this particular infant or child will not be available.
Quick and Fast Adoption
Although adoption need not take five years or longer, any website or organization that heavily emphasizes the speediness of their adoptions is suspect. Even if they place children quickly (for instance, if they work with foreign orphanages that have a lot of babies) that fact should not be the main “selling point” to their services. If it is, you should be skeptical.
Requiring Big Money Up Front
If you find a site on the Internet that promises you a baby fast, on the condition that you plunk down thousands of dollars, be suspicious. Most agencies charge up front for an application fee and a home study. Only when a child is available to be adopted should you be asked to pay large sums of money (five figures) to make the adoption happen. And you should not be offered a child until after you've had your home study. After all, how does the agency know whether you're suitable to adopt a child until the home study is done? If they don't care about that issue, they're not for you.
Attorneys shouldn't require large sums up front either, unless they know a pregnant woman or birthmother who is ready to place her child soon. Also, reputable attorneys won't take your money until they have a chance to talk to you directly.
Quick! Act Now or Baby Will Be Gone!
People on any Internet site—or in any e-mails that you get from the organization running the site—who urge you to act now or someone else is going to adopt this baby right away, are acting unethically and are highly suspicious. Never allow yourself to be rushed into an adoption. If it feels wrong to you, in your gut, it probably is wrong. You'll be sorry later on if you agree to highly questionable demands.