Red Flags Expectant Parents Should Watch for in Prospective Adoptive Parents

If you're considering placing a child for adoption, you should watch for these signs you're being lied to.

Robyn Chittister January 28, 2016

The Internet is full of information for prospective adoptive parents looking to avoid adoption scams. However, expectant parents do not have their own lists of red flags. It’s unfortunate, but some prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) will promise just about anything to get a baby, without intending to keep those promises.

How can expectant parents recognize these people and choose honest parents for their children? By asking several birth mothers, adoptees, and adoptive parents, we have put together a list of red flags for expectant parents—signs that PAPs might be lying to you just to get your baby.


Are you considering placing a child for adoption? Do you want more choices with your adoption plan? Do you want to regain more control in your life? Visit or call 1-800-ADOPT-98. We can help you put together an adoption plan that best meets your needs.

They're too agreeable.
1. They're too agreeable.

PAPs agree to anything without discussion. You want to name your baby? Great! No problem! You want weekly visits? Great! No problem! If nothing is a problem, the PAPs may be so desperate for a child that they will agree to anything, even if they have no intention of following through after the ink is dry on the termination of parental rights papers.

They're secretive.
2. They're secretive.

The PAPs have all of your information and you know only their first names and the state in which they live. They avoid personal questions, or answer them vaguely. You shouldn’t expect to know everything about the PAPs (I’ve been married to my husband for 13 years and I only just found out he hates sugar cookies), but there should be some quid pro quo. In other words, if they know it about you, you should know it about them.

They won't sign.
3. They won't sign.

The PAPs are unwilling to sign an open adoption agreement. Sometimes known as a post-adoption contact agreement (PACA), open adoption agreements are legally binding only in some states. You will want to check with your attorney or social worker. However, if the PAPs are unwilling to write up the bare bones of an agreement, that might be an indication that they don’t intend to follow through on their verbal agreements.

They're focused on rules, not relationships.
4. They're focused on rules, not relationships.

The PAPs talk about open adoption as if it is just a contract, as opposed to a relationship. Maybe PAPs are willing to sign an open adoption agreement, but they don’t want to talk about anything more than what’s in the agreement. Relationships change over time. If they are all about adhering to the contract, and nothing more, that may indicate that they see open adoption as a way to get a baby, not as a way to build a family.

They're vague.
5. They're vague.

The PAPs are vague about what they think an open adoption will look like now and later. No one has a crystal ball, but people should be able to say what they would like to see happen next year, the year after, and several years down the road. Maybe they can’t commit to yearly visits on a fixed schedule, but they should be able to tell you whether yearly visits are something they’re willing to have.

They're possessive.
6. They're possessive.

The PAPs are overly possessive. They invite themselves to your doctors’ appointments. They want to know everything you eat. They already talk about the baby as if he or she is theirs. They expect to be in the delivery room with you, even if you haven’t invited them.

They won't give you space.
7. They won't give you space.

The PAPs do not respect your need for space and pushes for contact after you have told them you need said space. This is tricky, really. If you and the prospective adoptive mom have been texting off and on for weeks, and all of a sudden, you stop responding, she’s going to assume the worst. If you need some time to reconsider, or even if you just want to stop thinking about adoption entirely for awhile, please try to communicate that to the PAPs, to the agency, or to your attorney. If you do drop off the face of the earth, and they text you once or twice with a “thinking of you” type message, that probably indicates that they respect your boundaries, but they want you to know that they are available for you if you need them. It’s the constant unwanted contact that you need to worry about.

They want to get you alone.
9. They want to get you alone.

The PAPs want you to fly to another state to give birth. Even if the interference is not that extreme, "red flag" PAPs often try to isolate you from the baby’s father or from your own family members.

They KNOW adoption is the best choice.
10. They KNOW adoption is the best choice.

The PAPs try to sell adoption as the best idea, no matter what. They constantly point out how many advantages the baby will have with them as opposed to with you.

They hire a private investigator.
11. They hire a private investigator.

Yes, I know one PAP who has done this, but just one. In all seriousness, if the PAPs are trying to find out every shred of information they can about you without asking you directly, that could be a sign that they’re expecting you to be untrustworthy.

They insist you don’t need your own lawyer.
12. They insist you don’t need your own lawyer.

It’s true - some states do not require that PAPs and expectant parents have different attorneys. However, many people see an inherent conflict of interest in one attorney representing both parties. You should be able to retain your own lawyer, and it should be legal for the PAPs to pay for that lawyer.

Is this a red flag?
13. Is this a red flag?

A birth mother I respect said that she thought it’s a red flag if the PAPs want you to talk to their attorney or agency right away. Please understand - PAPs are told to get an expectant mother to talk to an attorney or agency rights away to ensure that the expectant mother is not scamming the PAPs. Especially if you are asking for any kind of expenses, you will be asked to talk to an agency or attorney and provide proof of pregnancy.

It is if . . .
14. It is if . . .

Now, if that agency or attorney treats you like a commodity, that is a red flag. No one should ever talk about your baby as if he or she is not yours. Until the baby is born and you sign TPR, your baby is no one else’s, and you call the shots.

Get the information you need.
15. Get the information you need.

Always remember: You need to have the information you feel is important to make the best decision for you and your baby. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for that.

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Robyn Chittister

Robyn is a full-time writer and mom through private, domestic, open, transracial adoption. She resides in New Hampshire with her family of two adults, two children, and a fluctuating number of animals. She is seriously passionate about adoption and tries to use her words wisely--both here and at her personal blog, Holding to the Ground.

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