Deciding to adopt a child is a big step in your life. It should be taken with care and consideration. Knowing the correct rules and laws beforehand might ensure that no one takes unfair advantage of you.

Adoption fraud occurs when an individual or an agency attempts to illegally adopt or give up a child. It is also referred to as ‘wrongful adoption.’ This involves any type of intentional misrepresentation or illegal act by any party during the adoption process. Possible perpetrators of this fraud might include birth parents, adoption agencies, prospective adoptive parents and facilitators.

There are several types of adoption fraud cases. Adoption scammers look for unsuspecting adoptive parents and may deceive them for their own personal or financial gain. Some examples include fraudulent agencies which state a higher fee for their services or a pregnant mother who accepts fees from multiple parents. Adoptive parents might also commit fraud. If a to-be adoptive parent promises to adopt the child but disappears later and cuts off all contact, this is considered a scam.

Typically, adoption fraud is treated as theft by deception. This is because most states lack laws specifically aimed to punish adoption fraud. A felony charge of theft by deception is punishable by fines and can even result in jail time.

When trusting an individual or agency with the adoption process, caution must be taken. Any sign that may indicate an attempt of a scam should be treated as a ‘red flag.’ These warning signs do not always ensure that the crime is taking place. Their purpose is to make you alert so more research can be done to investigate the person or agency you are working with. If you suspect that you might be a victim of adoption fraud, you should speak with an attorney to help you realize all your options. Involving an experienced attorney might help you avoid scammers and fraudulent agencies.