It is an unfortunate fact of our day that every aspect of life is touched at some point by dishonest people.  This includes adoption.  Adoption scams have been around about as long as adoption has.  It doesn’t matter whether you adopt domestically or internationally, there is a risk of being scammed.  International adoption programs like Guatemala, Russia, and others have been temporarily or even permanently shut down due to unethical practices, baby-buying/selling, and other scams.  Domestic adoptions also run a risk of unethical adoption agencies or facilitators, or just individual scammers.  While the scams are far outnumbered by the honest, legitimate situations, when it happens to you, it can seem far worse. 

Here in America, scams formerly focused on money.  For example, a woman, who may or may not be pregnant, would contact the seeking-to-adopt parents, develop a relationship with them over the course of days, weeks, or months, eventually building up enough trust to convince them to send her money for some need to help her through the pregnancy.  Sometimes naivete on the couple’s part is to blame.  They simply trusted and wanted a baby too much.  In many cases, a couple might have done their research, not seen the red flags (if there were any), and, truly believing this was the birthmother of their unborn child, they would help her out.  Just to find out later that either she cashed in a travel ticket, or simply took advantage of their generosity, then decided to keep her baby (if there ever was one to begin with).   Women who are actually pregnant may go so far as to work with an agency, as she can sometimes legally qualify for more money that way.  It doesn’t matter to her that a hopeful couple is the one actually paying those expenses, rather than the agency itself.

Over time, though, emotional scams have become very popular.  Essentially, some woman gets bored, and preys on the emotions of others.  She gets her high by hurting others.  She may or not be pregnant, but will contact a hopeful couple, convince them they are the parents for her baby, lead them on an emotional roller-coaster, and then eventually drop them like a hot potato.  Should the parents become suspicious of anything (or if she just gets tired of dealing with them), then she may use one of several options.  If she isn’t pregnant, she may claim to have miscarried.  Whether or not she is pregnant, she may accuse them of not trusting her or of not caring about her, which only adds insult of their character to their already broken hearts.  At least one lady went so far as to develop a relationship over several months, finally calling to report she was in labor, then, when the adoptive parents were stopped at a lay-over as they traveled half-way across the country, she called to inform the baby had been still-born.  Turns out she was never pregnant. 

Adoption has its risks.  We knew that going into it.   We realized though, that there is never a guarantee when it involves becoming parents.  Things happen.  For every one scam, there may be 50 or 100 completely legitimate expectant woman looking to place their babies.  Of those legitimate ones, some do choose to parent at the last minute.  Some wind up breaking the hearts of their chosen adoptive parents in order to protect their own.  Some do miscarry or have something go wrong with the pregnancy.  Yet, even a bioligical child is not a guarantee.  Just because you wind up pregnant does not mean it will result in a perfect, healthy, full-term baby.  Life has risks, just as adoptions do.

I am writing this because I just found out it looks like we were the victims of our first emotional scam this weekend.  This girl was really good.  I knew what to look for in a scam.  I took my notes and did my research.  I knew to guard my heart.  Yet, I still couldn’t help but get excited.  There was a chance this girl and her unborn baby were real, and there was a chance she wanted to bless us with her baby.  When I posted that adoption update yesterday, I thought about not posting just in case something like this happened.  Then, when I found out today that the young birthmother I had spent hours of my time talking to (rather than spending those hours with my family) was playing several other families as well, I considered deleting that post from yesterday.  I thought about just not mentioning the scam and letting it all go.  But, then I realized that this is part of our journey.  Every journey has its ups and downs.  If you only discuss the ups, then you aren’t real and true to life.  In the long run, our adoption journey will have this scam as part of our story.  The purpose of this blog is to document the journey that God leads us on, including the not-so-great things that He allows to happen along the way. 

We knew when we began our very first adoption that it could be risky.  Yet, we were blessed with 2 beautiful little boys over the next 2 years.  In fact, our first adoption situation had every red flag in the book, and I wanted to get out of the match.  S, on the other hand, was convinced God wanted us to see it through.  We did, and He blessed us with little A.  You just never know.  When we decided to branch out on our own for this adoption, and put our profile on the internet for all to see, we knew we were increasing our risk of scams because our contact info was out there for anyone to see.  But we also felt strongly that God was leading us to be available to one young lady who was legitimate.  Even if it meant a few roller-coaster rides along the way, we felt God wanted us to go that route.  Of course, no matter how prepared, educated, and guarded you are, if you do get taken for a ride, it is disappointing.  I felt confident enough about the possibility of this situation, that I even mentioned it to the kids so they could enjoy the journey with me.  Unfortunately, that likely won’t happen next time.  I don’t want them to be hurt or to lose trust in people.  So, if nothing else, this woman did take that bit of family-enjoyment away as we tighten our protective barriers for the future.

Nonetheless, despite the risks, hardships, and disappointments that may be involved, it is not about us. God has called us to travel this road.  It is about serving another, and answering God’s call.  It is about being there to provide a loving and Godly home for a baby that is likely out there somewhere, perhaps as yet unborn (maybe even not conceived yet).  It is about providing a Christian testimony to others involved in this journey, or perhaps to those just reading about it.  It is about faith.  Faith that God knows best.  Faith that everything works out in the end according to His perfect timing and ultimate plan.  Faith that God will turn a young lady’s unplanned crisis into a situation that can glorify Him.  Faith that if and when we do receive that precious, little miracle, he or she may not be perfect by the world’s standards, but it will be perfectly matched to our family.  Faith that when I hold our new child, and look into those tiny eyes for the first time, I will see Christ, and just know that the journey was worth every moment.