Recently I ran across a story on the Associated Press telling of a man who bilked 13 couples out of thousands of dollars in an adoption-oriented Ponzi scheme. Apparently, the man promised couples from New York, Georgia, Ohio, Texas and Florida that he could arrange adoptions. In reality, the babies never existed.
In twenty years in ministry and working with people across the nation, I can honestly say I have ran across more shady characters in the world of adoption than in any other realm that I have worked in. Recently, I was approached by an out of state attorney who was trying to place a baby. While on the phone with one of his associates, I googled his name to discover that only weeks earlier, he had been arrested for ordering a hit on his wife. The explanation I got was less than confidence inspiring: “It’s complicated…he was arrested but he really hasn’t been charged yet.”
If you’re considering adoption, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
Ask for references.
If you’re going to adopt through an agency, you’re going to divulge a lot of personal information. Most of that is state-mandated. There is no other way to make sure you are who you say you are. Likewise, you need to keep in mind that anyone can get a brochure printed. Ask to speak with references who have worked with them on adoption or the name of a state inspector who you could call to confirm that they are operating within compliance of all state laws. If they can’t provide these, cover your wallet and run for the door.
Ask where the fees go.
Adoptions can cost between a few thousand and $40,000. It is not out of line for you to ask ‘how much of this goes to provide counseling for the birth mother?’ or ‘what exactly am I paying for. This is not for the faint of heart….it can be a very awkward discussion, but only if the price is exorbitant and the bulk of it is going to salaries. For the record, I understand that people need to be paid fairly for their work. I also know there is a fine line between a good salary and legalized trafficking.
Ask what happens after the adoption.
In some cases, you go home with a baby and fumble through finalization with your own attorney. In other cases, the agency helps you walk it out. It can work either way, but it’s good to know what to expect. In our first adoption, we hired a lawyer once we got home and finalized some months later. With our second, we finalized over the phone with an attorney in Florida. Again, there are several right ways to do this, but if the agency can’t tell you what the plan is up front (once you’re matched with a baby), find another agency.
Go with your gut.
Some times we get into arrangements with people who we have no reason to distrust…yet we have that unexplainable question in our minds. In the Christian world, this is called discernment. If you are not comfortable with the person you are working with, back out of the arrangement before it gets more awkward. If they have your best interests at heart, they will support your decision.
Understand that there are wonderful, Godly people in the adoption world that are happy to help you. In fact, most of the individuals who work in this realm are in it for good reasons. They can serve you well….just don’t let your emotions get ahead of common sense in choosing an agency.
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