The adoption process can be emotionally draining, expensive, and painfully long. Therefore, it can be easy to overlook adoption scams that purport to offer less expensive adoptions more quickly and with less bureaucratic involvement. Examples of adoption scams include birth parents promising their babies to more than one family to gain money, adoption agencies that collect payment for services never rendered, adoption agencies misrepresenting a child’s emotional history or background, and scam artists faking pregnancies and collecting money from prospective parents for “medical needs.”
However, there are warning signs adoptive parents can look for and steps they can follow in case an adoption seems fraudulent.
Red Flags During the Process
Whether you are pursuing an adoption independently with independent birth parents or through an agency that specializes in adoption services, there are a few signs to look out for to spot a scam. When dealing with an agency, common scam tactics include the agency asking you to sign legal papers right away without you understanding its content, making guarantees that the child is “yours,” and making emotional connections between you and the child that seem too good to be true.
For birth parents, some signs are easier to spot than others. It can be as plain as the birth parents not returning your calls or not giving a working phone number. Some birth parents will refuse to meet with family law attorneys practicing adoption law and counselors and will pressure immediate payment. For birth mothers still carrying, some warning signs include birth mothers who do not promptly respond to requests of proof of pregnancy and make excuses for not supplying proof, and asking prospective adoptive parents for help with medical expenses prior to the baby’s birth.
Do Your Research and Know the Law
Even if there are no red flags, you should always do your research and know the law. The most credible information will come from face-to-face meetings with birth parents and adoption agencies. Although your initial contact may be through the internet or over the phone, it is important to cultivate an in-person relationship as soon as possible so that you can ask the tough questions and see how your questions are being answered.
In the context of adoptions through agencies, California adoption agencies must be licensed by the Department of Social Services to provide adoption services. When dealing with an adoption agency, resources such as the State Licensing Specialist can provide information as to a particular agency’s license status, complaints, and any legal actions taken against an agency.
It is also important to know that California law provides birth parents with the opportunity to rescind the relinquishment of their child. For independent adoptions, parents have 30 days to submit a signed revocation and request of the return of the child. In an agency adoption, in general relinquishment is final and may be rescinded only by mutual consent. However, if the birth parent has specified an adoptive parent and that placement is not finalized, the birth parent has 30 days to rescind the relinquishment.
Finally, there are special rules relating to the rights of a birth father. In California, there is no Putative Father Registry, but notice of an adoption must be given to every person identified as the possible birth father. Thereafter, the father must bring an action to protect his parental rights within 30 days of receiving notice.
The Los Angeles, CA divorce lawyers and family attorneys at Boyd Law understand that there are many reasons people choose to adopt. Our goal is to provide clients with a combination of unique expertise, insight, knowledge and compassion throughout the adoption process. Contact our experienced and successful team of attorneys at Boyd Law for a free legal consultation and or case evaluation, today.