I have been debating for months and months as to whether or not I should blog about this particular situation. Some things have arisen today that tell us that this person is NOT in anyway who she claimed herself to be, and with the announcement of our being chosen by our a birth mother, this person who shall be known as "C" has begun attacking me, my friends, and is saying very hurtful and untrue things for whatever reason. I hope that if you have been one of the people targeted, and that this person has e-mailed you, that you will feel comfortable to come to me, to e-mail me, so that we can discuss further and talk through what is happening. I appreciate those of you who have come forward to tell me about these e-mails and this contact from this person. For this reason I feel it is very important to share these things I am about to share with you. Hopefully this way, no one will have to hurt the way our family has been hurt, and continues to be hurt by those who are untruthful and dishonest and are just out to hurt people like me and my husband, and others hoping to adopt. Stick with me, it is worth it.
Firstly, an article from the Someone's Missing Handbook, Making Your Adoption Happen, A Finder's Guide for Families who are Hoping to Adopt.
Avoiding Online Fraud Adopting a child can be one the happiest occasions in your life. In order to have a positive experience, you must take some precautions, especially when using the Internet. The likelihood of fraud is greater unless you take proper care.To protect yourself, consider the following points:
Due to your strong desire for a baby, you may be vulnerable to online scams and unreasonable requests that are not in your best interest.
Always choose an ethical path for your adoption, which is not necessarily the shortest or easiest path. For instance, some states require birth father notification before a court approves an adoption to occur. In addition, all states dictate that adoptions are subject to finalizing court custodial decrees prior to a couple crossing state boundaries to return home with the baby. These laws can cause inconveniences to adoptive couples but are required. Other ethical issues may also surface that call in to question the best interest of all parties to the adoption. For example, a birth parent may request that an adoptive couple pay for inappropriate items, services, or procedures that have nothing to do with support through her pregnancy. Couples are strongly encouraged to abide by the laws and ethical practices of adoption.
Protect your privacy. In online profiles, don't mention your employer, salary, home or work phone numbers. Invite birth mothers to call your adoption cell phone number if you are in possession of one.
Don't make a hasty decision, no matter how anxious you are for a child. Don't over commit to anyone until your caseworker has had time to check out the situation.
Money should only be given through the agency. Do not give money directly to the birth mother. The agency will approve expenses and disburse funds directly to the appropriate person such as a landlord, physician, or utility company.
The most common form of fraud involves someone who accepts money from an adoptive family knowing that she will never place a child for adoption. She may promise a child to several families, collecting money from each.
Be cautious with anyone who contacts you directly and prefers to work only through you. A woman who is sincere about adoption will provide you with specific contact information and she should respect your request that she talk with your caseworker.
Additional Red Flags
The birth mom wants to bring the baby to you. She may say this to get you to buy a plane ticket for her that she can cash in later. Most true birth mothers want you to come to them.
The birth mom is not available by phone or the address is not verifiable.
She does not provide proof of pregnancy or other requested documents. She seems to always have a reason for not sending you identifying information. She may have a sudden miscarriage or hospitalization when you ask for too much information.
She does not want you to contact anyone else concerning her pregnancy. She will not give you real names or numbers of doctors.
It's rare, but has happened: fraud not for money, but for attention or to inflict harm. In these cases the birth parent is not pregnant at all. She may be desperately lonely and in need of psychological help. She wants to talk intimately with someone and knows she can find emotionally fragile adoptive parents who will care about her. Her victims are manipulated into longing for the child. The game lasts only until she is asked to document her pregnancy or to meet the agency caseworker.
Birth Mother Scams
In the middle of the night you may receive a call from a woman you don't know. She has put off her decision to place the child for adoption until the last possible moment. She is in the hospital and going into labor.
Ask her to tell you the name of the hospital and her doctor. Give this information to your caseworker who can call the hospital maternity ward to verify the woman's story.Some homeless birth mothers are truly in need of assistance. You will want them to be safe and, if the law allows, the agency may provide them with services that include housing assistance. Your caseworker will verify their story before spending any money.
Screening Your Birth Mother
As a prospective adopting parent, your main worry may be whether the birth parent you will connect with will complete the adoption. The first task is to confirm her sincerity about the adoption. This can be difficult, especially if she is located far from where you live. In your first phone call, find out her phone number and the location from which she is calling. With this information, you may be able to enlist the help of an agency caseworker in her area to meet with her and verify her information.In response to your online profile, you may receive e-mails from people who claim to represent a birth mother. It is best to say, "Great! Have her contact us or our caseworker. We'd like to talk and we'll send you some information you can give her."If this person says, "You can only go through me to reach her, " consider that a red flag and move cautiously.
Please consider these additional tips when screening a birth mother.
Search out her contact name using Google (e.g. JaneDoe@yahoo.com...type in "JaneDoe" on Google.) If the birth mother is using a different name while chatting with an instant messenger program, perform a Google search on this name as well. If you are dealing with a scammer, you may find they they have posted information on other Web sites.
If your contact has sent you pictures, right click on the picture and obtain the picture's file name. Take the file name and perform an "Image" Google search. Some scammers steal pictures off of other Web pages and then send them to adoptive couples claiming the picture as their own. Be very cautious when you use this screening technique as searching some contact images may lead to Web sites that are pornographic in nature.
Some adoptive couples have visited online forums such as www.forums.adoption. com. Couples who have encountered a contact that turned out to be a scam may post this information on these forums. Building a networking relationship with other online adoptive couples can be valuable in detecting fraudulent contacts who claim to be birth parents. Always exercise caution when networking online as information you receive may not always be accurate.
A contact may give you a cellular or residential telephone number. The Internet has many Web sites where you can verify a contact's telephone number. This is called a "reverse look-up" and allows you to type in a contact's cellular or residential phone number to ensure it matches up with the name. Some sites are free while others require payment for use.
Verifying a contact person's state or city in important when screening birth mothers. Web sites such as www.switchboard.com allow you to search by name or telephone number.
One of the best tools to screen birth parents in your LDS Family Services' caseworker. Your caseworker can help you find out and verify information. When a birth parent visits an LDS Family Services office, the caseworker can verify information and pregnancy status.
Now that this icky stuff is out of the way, I want to tell you about "C". C started contact with us in April of this year. She said she was seventeen, was pregnant, and had initially contacted us through the LDSFS website. Through the course of a few weeks we became extremely close, and eventually she told Hubbs and I that she wanted to place her baby with us. Great, we were excited, thrilled, and if any of you know us, we were going through a really emotional time during all of this, having lost our baby...and really our relationship with C was never one but love and care and concern for her and for her baby...we wanted to help her in any way possible, even if she didn't place her baby with us, we wanted her to get the help that she needed. I'm here to tell you today that C was NOT who she said she was, she was/and is a scammer, and hopefully I can share with you what I have learned so that she will not hurt anyone else, and especially those that I love and care for so dearly as she is currently doing.
In our situation, these are the red flags that we ignored at first...
There was ALWAYS some emergency...she was sick A LOT...always in the hospital, always some problem with her parents. She said her mom had died of cancer a few years prior and that she was struggling with her step-mother.
She was going to run away from home, and come stay with us. When she asked if this was okay and we initially told her it wouldn't be a good idea, she used that to her advantage and made us feel terrible, like we had done something wrong...which we hadn't and we were in the right.
She would NEVER go to the agency and talk to a worker. She was REALLY good about making ME feel good that she wanted ME to go with her (she lived out of state) just another red flag that she wasn't who she said she was and wasn't willing to make things legit.
She had what we believe, to be using a fake name, her Facebook, which she added me to, and then later blocked me from when I got smart, had many many friends from where she said she lived, but guess what? None of those friends ever wrote on her wall. No one ever asked her how she was doing, etc. She didn't have pictures on her Facebook either.
She would never send US pictures. One night and one night only she would trade up tiny pictures over instant messaging, and then one night she uploaded a ton of pictures to Facebook, then mysteriously the next day they were gone...so that I couldn't even show Hubbs. Hmmm. Then as her due date approached, she sent me a picture of JUST a belly, no head...just a pregnant belly, which of course we all know, you can't verify who the person is with no head. Interesting.
We would make plans to meet with her, seven times to be exact, and she would never show up...or some emergency would happen and she would not be able to make it...at least at first she was kind enough to let us know she wasn't coming...up until the fourth time I think...then she just got lazy and rude and wouldn't call or anything for days later.
So, during this time, up until three or so weeks into it, we trusted her, believed her...then we put it out for the world on the blog...when a sweet friend, after reading the post called me and told me to be careful, that the things C had written to us in our little post were some of the exact things another birth mother had written to her. The reference to the baby as "Munchkin" or "Gremlin" both terms which another suspected scammer had used on my friend and her husband....Hubbs and I had been concerned for a few days about C being a scammer...this is when I did some hard core searching and finding to see what I could come up with...
I paid to have her phone number searched...her phone was indeed made out to the name she said was hers, but no valid address. No information could be found on her father or her step mother. There were no people on Facebook or MySpace that matched the names of her sibling...strange and weird seeing how she said they had them...?!
Then I started googling her name...her ID's for everything that I knew...and low and behold eBay...the lovely thing that it is was THE KEY...this C had mentioned to me that she was selling her iPod on eBay...silly silly C...well I noticed that she was using the same id on eBay as she had for her e-mail, for her instant messenger etc...and that she had changed her id in the last few weeks, about the same time she contacted us...hmmm...and guess what her old eBay user id led me to? An accused adoption scammer from New Mexico...and where was this eBay user from? Well none other than New Mexico.
There is a lady, Lynne who runs http://www.adoptionscams.net/ who was an angel and a princess at this time. She helped me find out all sorts of information on C...by the way that is NOT her name...nothing she said was EVER true to my knowledge, she was NOT 18, definitely NOT pregnant, and definitely NOT who she said she was. She was in fact, 32, has a warrant out for her arrest in New Mexico (hope you are aware C) and has been scamming couples like my husband and I since 2004.
I NEVER wanted to hurt C...even when I knew she wasn't who she said she was. I never wanted anything bad to happen to her. I feel really confused right now as to why she is trying to hurt me and my family. Some crazy stuff.
So, now, she has taken it upon herself to e-mail some of my dearest friends in the world and tell them horrible lies and things that she herself said about her own friends, her own family. She is mean, she is nasty...and once she is caught she turns (as has been apparent in the past) and basically turns wicked.
I just wanted to put this out there because I never felt it was my place to talk about my scamming experience, but this person has taken it upon herself to stalk my family, my life, and ruin it for whatever reason. I am not afraid of her. I don't want her or anyone like her to hurt those that I love. So, especially to my friends in the adoption world, be careful...I am so thankful that my friend called met the day that she did...and more than likely C and her H are the same people.