I've mentioned a few times both here and on facebook that we've had to deal with a few adoption scammers. For anyone still unfamiliar with what that means it's when someone (pregnant or not) pretends to be looking for a family for their child. Some take it as far as telling a family they have been chosen and to start preparing for the baby's arrival even if no baby actually exists. Pretty ridiculous.
We've dealt with two confirmed scammers so far. Now that the experience of the first scammer has 100% passed, due date and all, I'm ready to tell the watered down version of what happened.
So it first started in August of last year, three months after we had started the adoption process. While adoption wasn't new to us there were aspects of the "adoption world" that were. The training we completed in June was the first time we heard about scammers. I don't think the idea of adoption scams had fully sunk in but it was present enough in my mind that it maybe made me a little more reserved about contact.
So with the same "finding, not waiting" mindset that got us into the baby seller situation, I started joining various adoption groups and pages on facebook. On one of those pages was a post by an expectant mother talking about all the emotions that go along with choosing adoption for a child you're carrying. She talked about not being in a stable environment, a lousy job, not being in a good relationship with the baby's father, and various other reasons why she felt adoption was best. I felt so bad for her!
She went on to talk about wanting an open adoption and how it was really important to her to find a couple who want to continue contact (something important to us). She was worried that she was asking for too much and she would have to "settle" for a couple she didn't like or that no one would want the openness she was looking for.
Anyway, this poor girl was obviously (or so I thought) having a really tough time. I didn't want to be some kind of adoption vulture and swoop in saying "US! US! PICK US!" because that felt really...creepy. So I offered what I felt was best, reassurance. I sent her a private facebook message telling her I was sorry she was in such a rough spot and reassured her that what she wanted in an adoption wasn't unrealistic. I told her there are tons of really fantastic couples trying to adopt who want an open adoption and I wished her luck in finding "her family".
She messaged back asking questions about our family. I replied back, answering what she asked and then asking a little about her. This was our FIRST DIRECT CONTACT with an expectant mother! I got probably a little too excited :)
Then I had the thought that maybe I should learn a little more about her...
I went to her facebook page. She contacted us through facebook, so looking at the account she was messaging us from wasn't too creepy, right?
I felt like a bit of a creeper going to her personal facebook page and getting information she hadn't given me directly in our conversation, but I figured the most I would see was music or TV shows she liked, maybe some quotes or something, but no pictures, conversations or any personal information.
I didn't WANT to see anything personal because then you have to awkwardly pretend you don't actually know things about the person until they tell you directly in your conversations. Then you have to pretend "Oh you went to THAT school? That's awesome! Oh you have a DOG? I had no idea!" and every additional tidbit they share with you makes you feel like more of a creeper because in fact, you already cyber-stalked all that info a loooooong time ago.
Anyway, thought it would be basic, non-personal info. Wrong. Her profile was completely public. COMPLETELY. I mean the entire thing. I didn't even know a facebook profile could BE that open to people you didn't have as a friend, THAT'S how public it was. So did I quickly change the page thinking "maybe she doesn't know it's this open" and "I probably shouldn't look, you know, for privacy"? No. What DID I do? Making myself feel like even more of a creeper I started looking through her status updates and the exchanges that followed. My feeling like a creeper went away pretty quickly though...
Somewhere toward the top was a conversation between this girl and a friend. I wish I had copied it down. The conversation went essentially like this...
Expectant mother: "(Baby's father) is cheating AGAIN. I knew it when (situation that made her suspicious)!"
"(comments from supportive friends)"
Expectant mother: "I've been pretending to give the baby up for adoption so he would quit cheating and he doesn't even care!"
Yep, pretending to choose adoption to get the guy to quit sleeping around. Another big hit was "give the baby up". You "give up" things you don't want (bad habits, etc). People who chose adoption don't "give up" their child. Pretending. Pretending, pretending, pretending. Hm. Well that's the end of that then. The messaging stopped.
What doesn't make sense to me is why pretending had to involve other people. Why post to an adoption group page? Why respond to our message with anything more than a simple "thank you"? Why did part of this ridiculous plan have to involve contacting hopeful adoptive couples? It is what it is though.
Now, looking at it waaaaaaay behind us I'm glad it happened and that it happened the way it did. Honestly, as far as adoption scams go this one wasn't too bad and we found out early on. A shock, sure, but not too bad as scams go. It was our first expectant parent contact, so I was able to get the "ohmygoodnesswhatonearthdoIsaytothiswoman" jitters out of my system early on. We learned scammers are real and have all sorts of reasons for being deceitful. We learned to do our due diligence and try to find out if a situation is real before getting attached or any kind of hopeful.
Unfortunately we also learned that not everyone who contacts us is going to be genuine. That is one lesson we needed to learn but not one I'm entirely glad we know. With every person we've been in contact with since then we've treated it as an opportunity to share the beauty adoption can be, and to share our love with someone who needs it, rather than as an opportunity to adopt. Regardless of whether or not someone contacting us is genuinely considering our family they are someone needing to be shown love. So, we'll continue being nice, showing love, hoping for the best and looking forward to the day we get to start interacting with the fantastic person we know is out there :)