How Being Scammed Messes With Your Head for a Very Long Time

I don't think there are words to describe the feelings I had when I discovered we had been scammed.

Michelle Barnes March 19, 2016
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I don’t think I’ve ever been as vulnerable as I was during our adoption process. I need to be in control and I was definitely not in control when we were waiting for our match. You get your paperwork ready, complete a home study, work on your letter to your birth mother, gather family photos, prepare as well as you can, and then you hand it all over and let go of control entirely. You put everything on the line hoping that an expectant mom will love and trust you and you’ll develop a healthy relationship.

Then you get scammed. And it’s not just a bump in the road, it feels as though the rest of your journey is a thousand times more difficult and complicated.

We trusted an expectant mom, we painted a room pink, bought a bunch of girly clothes, and we were ready. She talked to us for a couple hours a day and we quickly became really close. I didn’t have a reason to question her. When she asked if we could come out to Virginia to meet her and her family, we immediately bought plane tickets, we were that confident.

 It’s devastating that there are women out there that take advantage of other women at vulnerable times for completely selfish reasons.

I knew everything about this girl—we sent texts back and forth all day long! I knew where she worked, I knew her family, I knew her friends, I knew what made her sad, I knew how to cheer her up. She needed me and I was happy to help. I knew our relationship wouldn’t end when the baby came and I wanted to make sure we had a solid friendship, and we did.

I woke up one night feeling uneasy, I don’t know what prompted it but I jumped on my phone and started scrolling through her Instagram feed. I had seen this feed a million times during our several-month relationship and I had never noticed a photo that suddenly stood out that night. It was a photo of her with a woman, someone I didn’t recognize and someone I had never heard her talk about. When I clicked through to the mystery woman’s profile I found her full name and googled her. She was a hopeful adoptive mom.

From there I was able to contact that woman and found out that our scammer had pretended to be pregnant the year before, visited this hopeful family, and then “lost the baby” when it was too far in the pretend pregnancy to keep it up.

I called the scammer’s place of work the next day. They confirmed she has repeated this cycle for the last 5 years with several hopeful families. She was a fraud.

I don’t think there are words to describe the feelings I had when I discovered everything. I was devastated. I experienced every emotion that comes with grief and I was hesitant to put our profile back up, but we had gone through too much to give up so we jumped back in.

I didn’t realize what emotions would come when I was contacted again (this time by our son’s birth mother). I didn’t trust her. I assumed she was leading us on for some strange emotional or financial gain. I know my first response was kind but I don’t think it was overly enthusiastic like my earlier responses to expectant parents. I couldn’t put my guard down, and it was really unfair to this expectant mom. I’m grateful that we moved at a slow pace at first because it allowed me to develop a tiny bit of trust while still being careful of putting my whole heart into a situation again.

Even after we attended an ultrasound, spent time with her family, and grew to be close friends, I still had issues with trust. I knew anything could change and that I couldn’t invest my emotions entirely. I resent our scammer for causing me to miss out on what could have been a happier and smoother bonding experience with our son’s birth mom.

Unfortunately, I still feel the heartache and confusion that our scammer caused. I’m reminded of it often and I think it will take a good amount of time for that to fade. It’s devastating that there are women out there that take advantage of other women at vulnerable times for completely selfish reasons. It’s not fair to experience this kind of betrayal when you’re already in a very delicate state. I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy.

For more information, read 8 Ways to Identify an Adoption Scammer.

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Michelle Barnes

Michelle is a mom to two beautiful children, one she gave birth to and one who was lovingly placed in her arms. She is an author, entrepreneur, maker, and baker. Adoption is her passion and she speaks at local high schools, attends panels, and does anything she can to share the beauty she's seen and experienced. Adoption gave her hope and gave her a son, she writes more about it at The Copper Collective.


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