An adoption search can be an emotionally daunting task. Like with all other areas of life, people will try to take advantage of you if they sense any vulnerability. Many folks get to a point in their search where they become desperate. They end up sharing way too much information therefore limiting the amount of points you can use to vet them. Scammers will try to take advantage any way they can. Sometimes, an individual will pretend to be the person you are looking for. Other times they may use personal details from your past to contact you to request money.
I understand wanting to list all the pertinent information on adoption registries in hopes of finding the right person. I’ve been there. Just try to think of it in terms of a police investigation. The cops don’t release all of the details to the public. They withhold some of the information intentionally so they can be sure they have the right suspect.
Let me give you one example of a woman who experienced adoption scamming firsthand. Kellie Sharpe was forced by her parents to place her baby for adoption. Afterwards, she spent 25 years searching for her long-lost daughter, Brittney. In 1997 she felt like she was finally starting to make headway. The Internet changed the way searching was done. It made things easier, faster. She registered with every adoption registry she could find online, including all the details she could think of. JoAnne Stanick, of adoptiondatabase.org, warned her that she had too much info listed—which could make her a target. Sharpe didn’t listen because was desperate. She, like many others, assumed the more information the better.
About three years ago, Sharpe was contacted by a girl named Kristin. She knew the name of the doctor who delivered her and many other specifics of her birth story. Sharpe was so excited that she jumped on a plane the same day. Kristin had dyed her hair and studied Sharpe’s kids online. Sharpe discovered three weeks later that Kristin was not her daughter. She was devastated but immediately resumed her search. About a month later, Sharpe did find her actual daughter, whose name had been changed to Hannah after the adoption. The two have reunited, and Hannah’s adoptive parents have welcomed her with open arms. She has an awesome relationship with Hannah, and they are active in each other’s lives.
After their reunion, Sharpe received correspondence from another scammer. It read:
Good-day Kellie Sharpe,
First of all my name is Jerry Garstone, one of the sole legal counsels to late (Brittney Welch) whom we have fully investigated and confirmed is your biological daughter. I’m sorry but my client who is late died in the UK, I was contacted by the Financial Institution where my client held a monetary resource to contact the family members on my client’s abandoned investment with them. Throughout my search, I was not able to ascertain a genuine relative who shall be recipient of client’s abandoned investment, hence contacting you. Kindly send me an email so that I could give you more information.
Jerry Garstone , (PhD)
She knew the email was an obvious scam, but there was one phrase in particular which left her unsettled. It mentioned that her daughter had died. Such a revelation may have left her heartbroken if she hadn’t known for certain that her daughter was alive and well.
As an adoptee or a birth parent, you have to beware of scammers. There are many search angels who will work on your search for free or almost free. Please step back and research any sources who offer to help you before you give them money, especially if they request large fees. Two reputable registries are registry.adoption.com and ISRR.org. You can start there. Just remember to keep some details to yourself.