There was recently a news article out of North Dakota featuring an adoptive couple who fell victim to an adoption scam. The family decided to pursue an identified adoption which means they themselves are responsible for finding an expecting mother who is considering adoption. Families often do this by way of social media. The problem is that this route to adoption also opens up emotionally vulnerable prospective adoptive parents to scammers. This couple in particular were contacted by a pregnant woman reaching out about placing her child only to find that the ultrasound photos she had sent to confirming pregnancy was pulled from a Google search. Unfortunately, it’s not a new story. This particular couple discovered the scam before they offered financial assistance and lost money in the process.
Prospective adoptive parents may steer towards an independent adoption first and foremost based on the lower costs associated with the process. Unfortunately, the cost gap isn’t the only difference and a higher risk of being scammed isn’t the only pitfall. Even those couples who choose to work with a facilitator should do their due diligence and know some of the downfalls of working solely with a facilitator as outlined here.
The National Council For Adoption insists that both expectant parents considering an adoption plan and prospective parents hoping to adopt to work only with licensed nonprofit adoption agencies and attorneys.
From Our Experience (those using facilitators):
It is disheartening when couples contact AFTH in a state of emergency looking for an agency to complete their adoption already in process because after receiving a match through a facilitator they have now learned the expecting mother’s state makes it illegal to use facilitators. 15 different states have such laws. Unfortunately, the adoptive family is now in a position of needing to hire an adoption agency on top of the fees they have already paid the facilitator making the process more expensive instead of less than working with an agency from beginning to end. Not to mention, if the adoption falls through, facilitators and matching services often do not extend credit towards another match. Typically their fees are deemed earned when the match occurs no matter the outcome.
Pitfalls for Expecting Parents too:
The prospective adoptive parents are not the only ones who are at risk of getting a raw deal when choosing to work without an agency. More often than not, expecting parents do not receive any sort of professional counseling. This is one of the most important decisions of someone’s life yet they don’t have the opportunity to have a counselor who is there is advocate for their needs to walk them through every step of the process. Not having counseling is a huge downside for expecting parents and also puts the prospective adoptive parents at a higher risk of a disappointment or disruption as well.
Recently, AFTH has been contacted by several families to assist them with situations they have been matched for and need an agency to continue with the process. On more than one occasion, when working with both the prospective adoptive parents and excepting parents our social workers have discovered that they are not as close as a match as they had been lead to believe. Differences in desired openness or drug/alcohol usage, mental health backgrounds etc. created gaps between expectations and realities. One party is then put in the awkward position of having to decide to walk away or continue even though it’s not good match.
Anytime prospective adoptive parents seek to connect directly with expecting parents without the help of an agency, they can sometimes give into the temptation of the carrot dangling before them without fully vetting the situation. Meaning they can be contacted by someone who isn’t a strong match for what they were open to but because there is the light at the end of the tunnel of waiting they might be tempted to quickly say yes even if it is outside of their comfort zone. When working with an agency, they act as the intermediary to make sure matches are a good fit for everyone involved.
There is a reason that adoption agencies undergo licensing and are required to adhere to strict state adoption regulations. Organizations that solely serve as a matching vessel are able to skirt around those requirements while unfortunately putting both the expecting and prospective adoptive parents at risk.
Finding What’s Best for Your Family:
Each family needs to find what best fits their own needs. If you are considering a matching service, facilitator or going it completely on your own and foregoing an adoption agency or attorney, please be sure to do your research so you are aware of the potential risks you may be exposed to. The adoption process is complicated and riddled with many unknowns. An adoption agency is there to advocate for and protect all parties involved in the adoption. Don’t be caught off-guard by being underinformed about the entire process from start to finish.
If you would like to contact one of our adoption social workers to talk more about your situation, call 800.355.5500