Adoption and the internet go hand-in-hand in modern times. They help further each other, and they lean on one another Even so, it also provides a way for more people to be affected, discouraged, and taken advantage of by the adoption scam. The phrase “the adoption scam” can be very misleading; there isn’t just one scam of which to be wary. They come in as many variations as there are members of the modern adoption community.

Adoption scams affect everyone from adoption professionals to birth parents to adoptive parents to adoptees. Each adoption group is targeted. One reason that it is easy for scammers to take advantage of someone in the adoption community is because it can be such an emotional topic, issue, or experience. This is especially true if someone is searching for family. That person wants so badly to reconnect, reunite, or at least make contact that it gives scammers the perfect opportunity to pretend to be the person for whom the member of the adoption triad is looking.

Potential adoptive parents can be scammed into a relationship where a child is promised, but doesn’t exist, or the scammer has absolutely no intention of keeping his or her word. Birth parents are also a target of scammers. A scammer may promise to place the baby in a good, loving home, and then will do anything but what has been promised. On the other end of the spectrum, those registering and searching online for long-lost family members– whether that person is a birth parent, birth sibling, or an adoptee– are also at risk. People spend all their time and energy searching for that one person. Because of this devotion, it is has become easier for a scammer to infiltrate anyone’s life with lies, deceit, and false promises. Some victims of an adoption scam can be tricked out of money, love, time, and energy. These scammers give false hope to many people.

This threat is real and immediate. And even though the threat will always be a threat to anyone and everyone in the adoption community, simply being aware of its existence can help protect and limit any form of the adoption scam from entering your life. One way to limit the chances of scammers entering your life is to limit what information you make available online. When registering, make sure you leave out some information that both you and the person for whom you’re looking would know, like a birth year or a place of birth. Keep a few of the vital pieces of information for fact-checking later. That alone can save you a lot of heartache, pain, and confusion in your future search.

Another thing you can do is trust your gut instinct. For some people, your first gut reaction is a reliable one. Take the time you need to analyze the situation in its entirety. If you feel you need additional insight into the situation, speak with someone you trust. He or she can, perhaps, help you see things that you couldn’t see before. Speaking with someone you trust can provide you with a clearer perspective. From there, you can decide which way is the best way to proceed and move forward.

Again, the best thing you can do to avoid being a victim of an adoption scam is to be aware of how it can affect you, which methods are currently being used, and how you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe. But don’t let the reality of adoption scams keep you from searching, reconnecting, and reuniting with a long-lost relative. Be aware. Be wary. Be careful.