It seems like such a nice thing. A post on Facebook about a baby looking for adoptive parents. There is usually something unique about this baby’s circumstance—maybe a special medical condition, a specific race or religion, or a certain location.
You have a friend who is struggling with infertility (odds are that you know quite a few—infertility affects 1 in 6 couples trying to conceive). Maybe they even fit the special requirements of this post. So you click that “share” button or tag their name. Probably a long shot, but what’s the harm?
Legitimate adoption agencies don’t post appeals on Facebook. You are just perpetuating a scam and spreading it to a couple who is already wounded and hurting.
Recently, such a post came up, looking for adoptive parents for a healthy newborn baby. The stipulation was that the adoptive parents must be Jewish. My husband and I are both Jewish and very open about our struggles with infertility and recurrent pregnancy and infant loss, as well as our interest in adopting. Though I lost count eventually, dozens of my well-intentioned friends tagged me or shared the post with me.
Here a few guidelines for red flags to watch out for:
1. No one needs to advertise online to find adoptive parents for a healthy newborn. There are thousands and hundreds of thousands of prospective adoptive parents. Demand VASTLY outpaces supply. The stipulation that the adoptive parents be Jewish (or at least be half Jewish, or whatever other race/religion the post specifies) is actually a pretty broad net.
In addition, if this agency was really struggling to find adoptive Jewish parents (which I doubt), a quick Google search would have brought up the Jewish Children’s Adoption Network (JCAN) and their vast network of Jewish adoptive parents, or another relevant specialized agency. There is no shortage of eligible adoptive parents, no matter what parameters are required.
2. Agencies that post online generally aren’t reputable. In the specific case of the post shared with me, the agency mentioned has very poor ratings. Again, a quick Google search would reveal that the agency in question is most (in)famous for the CEO taking more than half of their client’s fees as her own salary. Forums for adoptive parents have negative review after negative review of how she made them lose money (or worse—lose placements).
Take a minute to do a Google search of the relevant details and see if this scam has been tried before. It probably was. (By the way, this is a lesson for everything you ever post, share, or tag on Facebook or anywhere else. Do a little research. If it’s too good to be true, it’s probably a scam.)
3. Online appeals are just fishing for clients. Make a quick phone call to double check. Personally, I placed a phone call to the agency that resulted in a recorded message that the “baby from the internet message” has been placed, but there are lots of other placements available, so please leave a message. They didn’t even specify the Jewish baby in Atlanta, so I’m guessing they have more than one “ADOPTION ADOPTION ADOPTION” ads with their phone number attached, trying to recruit more clients.
“But wait!” you say. “An adoption agency that would prey on vulnerable prospective adoptive parents?” Yup. Happens a lot. Adoption agencies are for-profit and need to recruit customers like any other business. Some of them resort to less savory tactics.
So if you see another internet message about a healthy baby looking for an adoptive home, please do NOT forward to me, or anyone else. The chances are absurdly high that it’s a recruitment tool for a shady agency. The balance of prospective birth parents to prospective adoptive parents is extremely skewed. A healthy newborn isn’t having trouble being placed, and the agency representing him/her wouldn’t have to turn to the internet to find adoptive parents. For some reason, this post went viral in the Jewish community. I’m sure it’s not the only community this agency has preyed on. Please help me stop this blight in the adoption community from spreading any further.