By Ann Tatko-Peterson
Wednesday, June 4th, 2008 at 7:30 am in Adoption.
The tell-tale signs were written all over the e-mail. I just didn’t want to see them. A month into “circulation” (putting our story out there for birthmom’s to read), we finally had our first e-mail. The subject line was tip-off No. 1: “Adopt a baby girl into your home.” It was especially telling considering the message that followed from someone who called herself Taylor.
“Hi, Well, honestly I dont know what to say or if this is the right place for me to pose a problem. All i know is that I have prayed over it and something good is going to happen in my life. I am having a baby girl and we are facing some problems which i dont want her to suffer. She has already endured enough as a child and I have also tried my best to keep her but adoption should be my last resort if at all i want her happiness. If you are interested in giving a child love and care, please show it to this baby. She is 7months old, playful and fast growing baby.”
On some level, a tiny warning bell went off inside my head. Initially, I ignored it.
I hit reply and provided the name and contact information for the agency my husband and I are using to adopt. Then, I did as instructed by our caseworker at the agency. I sent her a copy of the e-mail. She quickly replied that we had received a scam, and we weren’t alone. Other clients at the agency, people looking to adopt just like us, had received the same e-mail. Most were far more savvy than I was.
Scams usually have a major red flag. The first one here was the discrepancy between the perfectly written subject line and the error-riddled message that followed. The second was that another e-mail address was included with ours in the “To” field. The third was how she changed her story from “having a baby” to having had a 7-month-old child. It’s not as if I hadn’t heard all of this before. The agency’s staff did an excellent job counseling us months ago about ways to recognize a scam. The two primary tip-offs are when the sender asks for money or writes about having twins, especially one boy and one girl. It’s not unlike the e-mail foreign money offers that promise big bucks — if they can just deposit the money directly into your bank account. The scams are obvious. I just chose not to look for the signs because after waiting a month to hear something, I wasn’t prepared to accept that our first communication was a scam.
Later, talking with my mom, she asked the question that came naturally: why? Why does someone prey on people looking to adopt? What does this person hope to gain? Believe it or not, it’s not always about money. Some girls/women are looking for attention. They like the idea of being able to provide something that people want, even if it’s not real. They like having a connection with someone, even if it’s not real. We may never know the motivation behind the e-mail we received. The real lesson here is to read thoroughly and be cautious the next time.