If you’re thinking of adopting a child, you need to be aware of some common scams that are presented by adoption agencies. Some scam artists use the idea of adoption as a means to get your money. Do your research before letting anyone have access to your life savings or any information about you or your family members. Some people are just about themselves, so always be aware of that.
The Steps To Analyzing Adoption Agencies
1) Make sure that potential agencies are licensed with the state where they operate and that they’re members of any relevant professional associations such as the National Council for Adoption (www.nca-usa.org). Check out www.childwelfare.gov for detailed information.
2) The agency should submit a detailed written plan and an estimated cost for each program. The plan should list resources such as transportation, housing, education, and medical care that the family will provide.
3) Never give any adoption agency your bank account information or donate money until you receive all of the following: (a) A description of how funds will be used; (b) Estimated expenses; (c) A projected timeline with milestones for completion. Do not send funds until all of these pieces are in place.
4) Be wary if the agency tells you to wire money or requests a credit card number without first providing a written budget and expense breakdown. Scammers often insist on this type of transfer, which is virtually impossible to trace or recover.
5) Never send money for visa expenses or travel expenses before an adoption is complete. Agencies should be able to tell you how much you can expect to pay monthly for food, rent, utilities, medical care, etc., but they should never ask you for one cent until your dossier is complete and approved by the U.S government so that they may begin processing your child’s immigrant visa paperwork (I-800). If they request payment in advance be aware that they are not legitimate.
6) Never wire money to anyone in another country for any reason, even if you think it is an adoption expense. It may well be the only way for scammers to get your money out of the country but it is impossible to recover or trace these funds because there is no third party involved in the transaction (no bank).
You should also never pay by check or prepaid credit card when dealing with an adoption agency because this too makes it impossible to track where your money went or who received it. Make sure that all payments are made via credit card only and then dispute charges after the fact if necessary (see step 8). Also, you can often cancel any credit card charges if they were fraudulently charged, so you can get your money back.
It is generally a good idea to deal with a local adoption agency. This may be hard for you to find since most American-based agencies have websites that include the words “international” or even “worldwide.”
What this means is that they often work in many countries and not just with your specific country of choice. If they are ONLY advertising international adoptions, then they usually mean all countries around the world.
The bottom line is that if they say very little about their working area (or mention USA/Canada as being where they operate), then there’s a chance it’ll turn out to be an international agency, so beware! There should be no doubt about which country or countries they cover because every adoption requires government approval from the countries where the child will be adopted from AND the country where the adoptive parents live in.
If they do not mention where they work, at least look them up on Google Maps to see if their office is near or around a major city. If it’s in the countryside somewhere, again there may be something to question about how local/regional their influence really is.
If its legitimacy is still in question, take a few extra steps. Call them using the number listed on their website or agency profile and ask for more information about who they work with. Ask if their organization has any affiliation with other international adoption agencies in the country you’re interested in adopting from (if they say yes, keep following up with questions like what percentage of adoptions they handle versus the other agency, etc.)
Follow these simple guidelines and you will be on your way to finding the best, most successful adoption agencies in your area!