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Online adoption scams on the rise

Potential parents in Texas can become anxious and frustrated by traditional methods to adopt. Private adoptions are permitted by family law, but an intermediary between biological and adoptive parents must be authorized. Intermediaries include attorneys, physicians, mental health care and social workers and legitimate child placement agencies.

Individuals and couples who hope to adopt are allowed to foot some of the bills for a birthparent in public and private adoptions. Legal expenses and medical care including counseling are among them. Prospective parents working with agencies may also agree to subsidize rent, food, gas or clothing bills. In many cases, expenses cannot be reimbursed.

The legal path to adoption can be expensive and time consuming, especially when individuals or couples have specific expectations. Babies of U.S. origin are often a priority. Older, foreign-born children and children with medical or mental health needs frequently are not among the top choices.

Adoption urgency causes individuals to push legal limits or, worse yet, unwittingly become involved with barely-legal agencies or adoption scams.

A Midwestern couple found an online agency that connected them quickly with a birthparent. The couple was not required to meet stringent qualifications and knew little about the birth mother.

The couple handed over an extra fee to expedite the adoption. The husband and wife would learn later that the birthparent would not consider the adoption unless the couple purchased appliances for her. The distraught couple abandoned the plan at a loss of $10,000.

Some agencies take advantage of adoptive parents, promise birth mothers rewards and are nearly guilty of selling children. In Texas, personal ads for adoption are illegal. Advertising for birthparents through state-approved agencies is permitted.

Childless individuals and couples who are anxious to become parents may wish to consult with an adoption attorney before entering into any private adoption agreements. Excessive time, money and emotional investments may be avoided with the proper legal advice.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Online adoption: Avoiding a web of lies," Bonnie Miller Rubin, Dec. 23, 2012

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