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Barbara L. Jouette, Attorney, P.C.
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How to avoid becoming the victim of adoption fraud

Adoption fraud is the illegal conduct or intentional misrepresentation of someone during an adoption for the perpetrator's financial or personal benefit. To avoid becoming a victim, potential adoptive parents in Texas should know that adoption scammers could be birth mothers, adoption agencies or adoption facilitators.

There are several types of fraud when it comes to adoption. In some cases, the birth mother promises her unborn child to multiple families but does not intend to finalize the adoption. During her scam, she accepts payments from the families for pregnancy-related expenses, travel costs and other financial support. Some women may pretend to be pregnant to obtain money for living expenses.

An adoption agency might commit adoption fraud by charging high fees or not providing the services the adopting couple paid for. Some agencies withhold the full background details about children, preventing the adoptive parents from making an informed decision on whether or not to adopt the child. Adoption facilitators could scam potential adoptive parents by not providing them with details about a child's developmental, physical or emotional conditions or critical background details about the biological family.

Prospective adoptive parents may be able to avoid these types of fraud by looking for common red flags. These might include the birth mother not providing proof of pregnancy, not responding to calls or emails or refusing to meet with a counselor, adoption agency or attorney. Some red flags for adoption agencies and facilitators include pressure to sign documents, not responding to calls or emails or making guarantees about an adoption.

Adopting couples who believe they are victims of adoption fraud could file a report with their local police department, the National Fraud Information center, the state attorney general office or the FBI. They could also talk with a family law attorney about their rights and the best course of action for their situation.

Source: Findlaw, "Adoption Fraud", December 01, 2014

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