In considering adoption for your family, you may have encountered frightening stories about adoption scams. Adoption fraud occurs in situations where a woman takes advantage of a prospective adoptive family, sometimes taking thousands of dollars in living expenses when she has no intention to place her child for adoption, no proof of pregnancy or even false proof of pregnancy.
These cases are extremely rare, but they can happen — which is why the professionals at the Law Offices of James Fletcher Thompson take great care to screen the prospective birth mothers who contact our law office. In fact, choosing to work with an experienced adoption professional is the first step you can take in preventing adoption scams in South Carolina.
Here are the steps we take to avoid working with adoption scammers:
- Screen prospective birth mothers — Before we begin the matching process with prospective adoptive families, we make sure that each pregnant woman who approaches us is committed to her adoption plan. In our interviews with prospective birth parents, our social workers gauge their interest in the adoption process. If a woman is seriously considering adoption, she will have many questions about the process and services we provide, as well as questions for the adoptive family she chooses. We make sure these interviews are conducted face-to-face, and we’re also present with expectant mothers as they view adoptive family profiles. Through this, we get to know them personally and better gauge their commitment to the adoption process.
- Wait to match adoptive families — When we match adoptive families and prospective birth mothers, we typically wait until the eighth month of the expectant mother’s pregnancy before completing a match. Not only does this help protect you from experiencing an adoption disruption after investing in a match, but it also helps ensure the birth mother is committed to her adoption plan.
- Manage living expenses — Instead of directly giving money to the birth mother you’re matched with, living expenses are handled through the law firm and paid directly to the provider on her behalf. For example, instead of giving the birth mother money for her electricity bill, we will make a payment directly on her account — making it less likely that a birth mother adoption scam is occurring.
What You Can Do to Prevent Adoption Scams
While our social workers are always available to assess your adoption situation if you found a birth mother on your own, there are some things you can do to prevent the likelihood of being targeted by an adoption scammer in South Carolina.
- Keep an eye out for warning signs — A potential birth mother will likely have a lot of questions about you as a family (as you’re the people who she’s trusting to raise her child), so if she agrees to match with you without getting to know you first, that may be a red flag. In addition, if a prospective birth mother is difficult to get a hold of, continually misses meetings and phone calls or avoids meeting with an adoption professional, this may be a sign she is not truly committed to an adoption plan. Adoption is a life-changing decision for an expectant mother, so if she doesn’t seem to take it seriously or appear engaged in the process, reach out to a social worker at the Law Offices of James Fletcher Thompson for advice.
- Know what to look for — Some adoption scammers target several families at once, so join online support groups and adoption forums to keep an eye out for other birth mother situations that are similar to yours. You should also do your research on current and past adoption scams so that you will be able to better notice the patterns of adoption fraud if you are the unknowing victim of one.
- Allow an adoption social worker and attorney to determine appropriate living expenses — Ideally, you should work with an adoption professional to mediate the transfer of money between you and the potential birth mother, not only to prevent adoption scams but to ensure that you’re following the laws of allowable living expenses in your state. We recommend letting our professionals handle the living expenses and, if you don’t have a mediator, directly paying the vendor for a prospective birth mother’s living expenses (for example, rent to landlord, utility bills to utility companies, etc.).
- Trust your instincts — If something doesn’t feel right about your adoption situation, don’t brush those feelings aside. Contact a social worker to express your concerns about your adoption opportunity.
Adoption scams can be a frightening situation, but remember that they are rare. The majority of prospective birth parents are honestly looking for the best family for their unborn child, so don’t let the possibility of a birth mother adoption scam dissuade you from your adoption path. Just make sure that you’re aware of the warning signs of adoption fraud so you can prevent it from happening to you.
To begin the adoption process in South Carolina with reassurance against adoption scams in South Carolina, please call the adoption professionals at the Law Offices of James Fletcher Thompson today at 864-573-5533 or contact us online.