Scammed

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Saturday afternoon I got an email from a woman claiming to be looking for a couple to adopt her infant. I excitedly showed it to Mark, and debated the best wording for responding. Something felt a little off, but I chalked it up to nerves about actually being contacted by someone. I quickly wrote the woman back. Then, I remembered an article I’d read about adoption scamming on The R House blog. It suggested running a search on the email address, so I did. When mothing came up when I searched for just the name before the “@” I felt some relief, but I decided to run a search for the full email address. That revealed one hit: an ad for the baby. That definitely seemed fishy, but I held out hope that this was a real contact.

We left for a family event shortly thereafter and on the way there, I received another email from the woman. This included many pictures of her baby and various family members. She laid out a bit of her story and ended with the instruction for me to contact the priest currently caring for her child: name, email, and phone number. However, the phone number clearly wasn’t from the US and further investigation revealed it was from somewhere in Africa. My heart sank. Obviously, this was an adoption scam.

I’m glad that I was able to figure that out so quickly, though I hear many adoption scammers are much more adept at stringing you along. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt though. The past couple of weeks have been so hard and our adoption email has been silent since we were approved for adoption. For a brief time after I got that email, I thought maybe that was changing and someone was interested in getting to know us further. And seriously? This was doubly cruel coming on Mothers’ Day weekend!

When I got home that evening, a friend reminded me that you can do an image search in Google by uploading a picture. I was able to track down the original owner of the pictures the scammer had used, and alert them. I went back and forth over whether to do that, but in the end, I figured if it were pictures of my kids, I’d want to know.

The scammer has written me back once more, yesterday afternoon. I ignored it, but if she/he writes me again they are going to get a very angry email.

I guess you’re not really a hopeful adoptive parent until you get scammed, eh? Here’s hoping for no more scammers, and instead a legitimate contact soon.

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10 Comments

  1. Maya
    I am so sorry that this happened to you. I am so happy that you were smart enough to to fall for the scam. And lastly so proud that you hunted down the family to warn them they were being used. I hope she does e-mail you again, and you call Dateline to catch her in the scam!

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  2. That is disgusting. I’m sorry that happened to you & Mark. I really don’t understand why people do the things that they do. If women who were putting their children up for adoption knew your family like many of us do, your in box would be full :)

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  3. What a horrible experience for you! Don’t give up, the right child will find his/her way to you! All the best!

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  4. That’s awful! I’m so sorry that happened to you guys, Maya.

    I wonder what adoption scammers stand to benefit from leading parents on like that—money? Satisfaction from manipulating peoples’ emotions? Regardless of the motives (of course), it’s just plain rotten. =(

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    marfmom Reply:

    Sometimes it’s money, but I think oftentimes it’s that they get a high from the attention they receive. The R House posted an interview with one of them, which was interesting: http://www.therhouse.com/guest-blogger-chelsia/, as well as her own scamming story: http://www.therhouse.com/dont-get-scammed/.

    I hope this is the last one we encounter, but my guess is that it won’t be. :-/

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  5. All of that is just so sad!

    I hope this process is overwhelmingly joyful for your family, and that this type of negativity does not color your experience heavily. <3

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  6. I would have never guessed that such scammers existed. Good that you are so smart and checked. There should be some way to make an alert to that person’s name or someplace to report them. But your time will come for the baby will come when it is supposed to. Sorry for the bad tug on your heart.

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    marfmom Reply:

    There are websites that keep track, but these scammers change names and contact info pretty quickly. As soon as they “get made,” they just change identities. :-/

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  7. How heartbreaking. I know a couple of women who went through very difficult times trying to adopt. One, a friend, went into a serious depression when her foreign adoption feel through. Fortunately, within a year, she had another adoption go through and has a daughter that she and the rest of her family are madly in love with. The other woman that I know has beautiful baby twins. I wish you a happy ending like these. All the best.

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    marfmom Reply:

    Thank you!

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