Surviving A Domestic Adoption Scam: How To Move Forward

This guest post is by Amy, a hopeful adoptive mother and blogger

adoption-scamWe really never thought it would happen to us.

We were cautious.  We were careful.  We listened to our agency and followed all the “rules.”

And yet it DID happen:

We were scammed!

We had dealt with a few probable scammers before — women who called us on our adoption line or emailed us for a few days with crazy stories or requests that sent red flags waving in all directions.  But this was different.

This scam was well-planned, cruel and criminal. It not only drained us emotionally and financially, but left us questioning ourselves and our ability to move forward.

It began in August when we were contacted by a young woman, whom I will call L, who said she was interested in placing her baby for adoption.

We seemed to really connect on the phone and started developing a relationship.

She had already met with our agency and the next month went incredibly well.  In September we met for lunch and she asked to match with us.

We felt like we were in a dream. After all the years of waiting, was this finally happening? When she called the following Monday and told us we were having a girl, we were overjoyed!

However, our dream was about to become a nightmare.

It didn’t happen all at once. At first, it was unreturned phone calls and missed appointments with the agency.

Then, there were financial concerns. About the same time, she stood me up for a doctor’s appointment after inviting me to come with her. We couldn’t reach her for three days!

L seemed to have changed into an entirely different person. Then we got “the Call.”

It was our agency letting us know that they had just found out that L was a fraud.

They had done a little more digging and found out that she had worked with an area adoption lawyer earlier that year and had made an adoption plan.

After giving birth to a baby boy in June, she decided to parent.  That meant that either 1) She was not pregnant or 2) She was very recently pregnant and not due in December.

Whatever the case, it was clear that L was using us for financial gain and the little girl we were preparing for did not even exist!

We were shocked, devastated, angry, sad, confused and left wondering how to grieve for a baby that wasn’t even real.

It was only through the grace of God and the love and support of our family that we were able to make it through those first few days.

Here it is a few months later and I still think about the baby girl that we all thought was on the way. The pain is still there, but it is a little easier.

One of our biggest questions in all of this was:

How do we move forward? 

For us the answer was and still is one day and one step at a time.

Everyone’s journey is different so I hesitate to offer “tips” for moving forward, but here are a few “lessons” that helped us.

Lesson 1: Take time to grieve  

Even though the baby girl we were preparing for was not real, she was real to us. We were experiencing very real loss.

As painful as it was, we needed to allow ourselves to feel those emotions and work through them.

We needed to ask the hard questions. We needed to take time to comfort each other and seek comfort for ourselves.

Lesson 2: Reach out to your support system.  

We have an amazing support system. After learning our match was over, words of comfort, love and support started pouring in from all over the country.

I still say we have the best friends and family ever! Family and friends let us do and say what we needed to. They were there, but didn’t push.

They didn’t try to answer the whys, they just loved us and that’s exactly what we needed.

Lesson 3: Don’t play the blame game  

For us, this was the hardest lesson.  We questioned our choice to match.  We questioned our ability to judge character.  We blamed ourselves.

Why didn’t we see the red flags earlier?  The reality was, L was very good at scamming and likely makes a living through fraud.

She didn’t just fool us; she fooled our agency that has 25 years in adoption experience. This was not our fault.

Lesson 4: Find a way to restore hope!

Our faith in God is what really helped us to move forward.  The day before we received the call from our agency that L was a fraud, I spent time praying and experienced an overwhelming sense of peace and love at the altar.

God knew what was coming and in a way prepared me for the days ahead. I was still crushed and broken, but even in the midst of our pain and unanswered questions I felt God’s comfort and peace.

This was not the end. There was still hope. Jim and I still believe wholeheartedly that we are meant to be parents and that someday, somehow our prayers will be answered.

Moving forward after a scam is not easy. Grief is a process. You can’t rush it, but you also can’t stay stuck in one place.

It can seem overwhelming if you try to tackle it all at once, but it’s manageable if you don’t try to handle it alone.

I am still taking it one day and one step at a time. God gives me the strength that I need for each day, and for now that is enough.

Amy lives in Terre Haute, Indiana with her husband Jim and their two cats, Melody and Aria. 

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