UPDATE 4/22/15: Over the past two weeks we’ve discovered proof of fraud. God has been so kind to allow us clarity on this really awful situation. I’ve been working with a detective on the west coast since this past December, shortly after everything fell through. I knew in my heart of hearts that this situation was fraudulent and I pleaded with the Lord to give us proof.
I was determined to get to the bottom of this. The truth will always prevail. Evil cannot win. It will always be brought out into the light.
This woman kept a lie going for many months, via her blog, and occasional direct contact with me (of which I have not responded to since December). She posted pictures on her public blog and directly emailed me a picture of the supposed baby she gave birth to, implying that this baby girl was still available for adoption.
Let this be a warning to everyone (myself included)….you can’t take back what you post online. Ever. It can easily be brought back up even after it has been deleted. Through a chain of events (of which I believe God completely led), I discovered that this woman had been stealing baby pictures from her real life (and Facebook) friend. This is so scary, and absolutely heartbreaking for this family.
Another family’s baby girl was posted on this woman’s public blog implying that she was available for adoption.
Another family’s precious daughter was portrayed to me in an email, less than two weeks ago, as the baby we were originally planning, and hoping, to adopt.
It still blows my mind that this happened.
Praise God, it has all been brought out into the light. The family whose pictures were stolen from them are, right-fully so, devastated. They are a Christian couple who I have recently had the great pleasure of connecting with. Emailing with the wife has been the most beautiful and redeeming factor of this awful situation. I am very grateful that even though we live 3,000 miles apart we have been able to support each other towards healing.
The Internet can be a wonderful space full of convenience, connecting, and learning. It can also be a horribly dark place where evil can flourish. This experience has given me tremendous pause about eventually posting pictures of our little guy’s face for all the world to see.
At the same time, I’m choosing not to live in fear over this situation. God is absolutely sovereign over this terrible mess. I’m ecstatic that, in His kindness, He chose to give us proof of fraud. He didn’t have to, but He did. I feel like we can finally move on completely and wholeheartedly. There is immense freedom in that!
My biggest prayer is that this woman wouldn’t victimize any other families. As you read our story below, please pray her lies would stop completely and that she would be brought to repentance. Feel free to share our story with anyone you think may benefit from it.
We believe we were recently victims of an adoption scam. An emotional scam, to be exact. We still don’t have proof of fraud at this point, which is why I stated it’s a possible scam in the title. I want to be cautious to not slander the woman on the other end as I share our story. However, we have a lot of evidence that fraud was involved, and we are praying for justice to be brought.
I never thought we would fall prey to something like this. We have been in the adoption process for almost four years. We knew to look for scams and had been contacted by some pretty obvious ones throughout our time waiting for a child. You know the ones I’m talking about. Emails from Africa, in broken English, telling you all about a baby who needs a mom and a dad. Wire them a large sum of money and you can be the new parents!
No. Just no.
This one was tricky though. It wasn’t like the others. Emotional scams feed off the attention and sympathy of prospective adoptive parents. Often times it’s about control and power. There may or may not be a financial need involved. In our case, money was never asked for, which made it more difficult to spot. My desire is to send off a warning shot to those who may be vulnerable to something like this.
Here’s our story:
We were contacted by a woman in mid-September, about two months after we were placed with little J. She lives on the complete opposite side of the country from us. She found us through an adoption matching website where we had a profile still active. I had forgotten to remove it since J joined us and she was able to email us as a result. The website is an extremely reputable one. However, the downside to any of these sites is the possibility of scammers contacting the waiting families.
When I received her email requesting to speak with us more about adopting her soon-to-be-born baby girl, I was sort of blown away. We had J and weren’t even thinking about adopting again at that point. Adam and I talked, prayed, and decided that there was no good reason to turn down a conversation with this woman.
So, we emailed back and forth a few times, and eventually began to speak on the phone, getting to know each other. She had a devastatingly tragic story. The details were horrific, mingled with miraculous. The baby in her womb should not have been alive, based on what she told us.
She also claimed to be a follower of Jesus. And not just one of those “yea, I’m a Christian too” types. She had the language. She would confidently pray over the phone with me. She claimed to believe that the life within her was precious and abortion was never an option. She trusted that God would turn her broken circumstances into something beautiful.
I was speaking to a sister in Christ. A new friend. A woman who would possibly be a part of our lives for the long-haul. It was truly the ideal open adoption situation.
Within a week or so she had weeded out a few other couples, and confidently chose us to be the parents of her baby, due late January 2015. We were honored, excited, and totally floored with how unexpected all of this was. It seemed like God was opening up the floodgates and our family was going to grow again. We were getting excited!
We spoke regularly on the phone, texted throughout the week, and emailed for about two months. We let her into our lives in a very big way. A way that I now totally and completely regret.
All while we were getting to know each other more, preparing for a lifelong open adoption, we were also beginning to arrange details with our agency. Connecticut requires all of their couples to work with a licensed child placing agency. At first, this was a total nuisance to all parties involved. An expensive nuisance. However, it ended up saving our butts and for that we are eternally grateful.
In order to proceed with an adoption plan, this woman needed to sit down with a pregnancy counselor from our agency, provide proof of pregnancy, and sign a release. This was a requirement for us, and we could not move forward apart from this very important step happening.
Long story short, she could never commit to doing those things. She insisted that we should just trust her, and continue making our plans (plans we had already begun to make) to travel 3,000 miles across the country for the birth.
This was a huge red flag for us, and at that point I wasn’t willing to give one more second of my precious time to her. Adam handled things from that point on and initiated one final conversation with her. We wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt, and lay out our requirements one last time.
She could have easily proven herself to us at this point but she chose not to.
No progress was made. And, to make matters even more complicated, it was like a flip had been switched in her demeanor and personality. Emails from her became extremely defensive, creepy (she was tracking when I would open emails from her), and aggressive. We were clearly dealing with someone who was unstable, and way outside our realm of being able to help.
Her true colors were showing, and her reaction to simple requests that any adoptive couple, and adoption agency, would have were quite telling. She gave us no reason to believe her story was true while having every opportunity to do so.
At this point, the worst case scenario was crossing our mind. “Was she even pregnant?” That was a very surreal thought after spending two months making a birth plan with her, talking about post-adoption expectations, dreaming about little girl clothes and names, and researching travel arrangements.
I was absolutely livid and cut off all contact from that point on. The anger I felt towards this woman was very real, and full of regret for how much time I gave to her. That was precious time spent away from my husband and son. I can never get that back and, if she is indeed a fraud, she is the least deserving person of it.
A dear friend of mine prayed that the time I gave to her would not be in vain, and that she would experience the love of Jesus through it. She’s right, and was just the perspective I needed while I struggled with some of the most intense anger I’ve ever felt. It wasn’t easy though.
By God’s grace though, we weren’t sad or devastated. Not at all. He was really kind to allow us to move on quickly. We’re already parents, and the idea of a new baby was an unexpected blessing. He was gracious to allow us to move on with our hearts unscathed.
In the midst of working through my anger towards this woman, the second strongest emotion I felt was gratefulness.
I was so grateful that we were the ones who had experienced this and not another couple who was still waiting for a child. What could have been absolutely devastating for someone else, became something we moved on from relatively quickly and easily. In that sense, she absolutely picked the right couple.
I think what made me most angry was the fact that our little J was very involved in this process. We began prepping him for “baby sister.” He had a doll he was learning to be gentle with. We chose a name. We talked about her often, and what life with a newborn would be like.
He was involved and he was excited and then we had to tell him it wasn’t happening. We talked about sin and evil and how the world is full of people who want to take advantage of others for selfish gain. That was a necessary and hard conversation to have with a three year old who has already experienced more brokenness than any child should for his age.
That is what tore me apart. How dare she mess with our precious little boy.
Where does it stand today? We’ve done our part to seek justice. We occasionally still hear from her but her calls and texts go ignored just like the junk mail we get from Comcast.
We moved on quickly, and God allowed my anger to subside. I do still pray that if she has something to confess to us, she would do so.
I sincerely never thought we would experience something like this. I thought I was savvy enough to sniff scams out from the start. Her life and story (true or not, we may never know) was full of so much drama and heartache that there was never opportunity for Adam and I to question her. She was sweet and sincere on the surface, and we would have seemed heartless to question anything.
For a couple who seeks to be compassionate and understanding towards birthparents, and who desire to have a relationship with them, we were prime victims for this type of thing. Once we pushed back a little and asked her to do something that we needed, it was all over.
I think a huge way to avoid getting wrapped up in a situation like this is to always get “proof of pregnancy” before you emotionally invest in an expectant parent. Looking back, that’s just common sense. That was a big mistake on our part and we could have ruled her out much quicker if we had pursued that right away. She made mention of the document in one of our first phone calls, that it was sitting right in front of her on her desk. I trusted her. I should have waited until it was in our case workers hands before I gave her so much of my time.
In addition to that, the fact that we are required in the state of CT to use an agency was what ultimately saved us. Private adoptions (meaning, an adoption arranged with only a lawyer) are illegal in our state. I tremble to think what would have happened if we had the freedom to pursue this adoption without a professional. If we had the freedom to use the lawyer that she recommended. Scary places (and possible financial ruin) could have been at the end of that road…a road that would have included a 3,000 mile trip cross country, arranging childcare for J for up to a month while we were gone, or much worse.
My advice is to always use a professional when dealing with this type of adoption. That ought to be a reputable licensed child placing agency, or a lawyer of your own choosing. I am so grateful for the kind workers at our agency who walked us through this. They gave sacrificially of their time when I know it’s short and better spent on women who are serious about making an adoption plan for their babies.
I am so grateful that we didn’t lose any money like many other couples have (minus a few small purchases to prepare for a baby girl). Some have lost tens of thousands of dollars. Granted, I may argue that the loss of my priceless time with my husband and son hurts more. I pray our story sticks with those who are pursuing infant adoption, and extreme caution is always taken. Especially for those who are desiring an open adoption.
Open adoption is a good thing, and very worth the time and energy on the right situation.
Other general red flags to look for:
- An expectant parent who expresses a need but never takes action.
- A disdain for working with adoption professionals. In our situation, she spoke from the beginning about how she had bad experiences with adoption agencies and was very uncomfortable working with them.
- Not keeping their word. We were told that ultrasound pictures were coming in the mail. Obviously they never did.
- A pattern of ongoing crisis in their life. This may include stories of ER visits and hospital stays. If their goal is attention, this will certainly work.
- Being overly interested in your personal and family life. This one is tricky, because it may not necessarily be a red flag. Just use common sense. Very personal information can be shared later if you do end up in an open adoption.
**I purposely kept a lot of details about her situation private. I don’t want to slander this woman in any way incase she was in fact telling the truth and just not able to cope well. We do know that mental illness has a hold on her. However, I am open to sharing some other details privately with those who may be in a similar situation. These other details won’t slander her, but may point to common tactics of those involved in emotional adoption fraud. Don’t hesitate to email me.**