What constitutes an illegal adoption?

UPDATED: Jul 17, 2023Fact Checked

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Jeffrey Johnson

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 17, 2023

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UPDATED: Jul 17, 2023Fact Checked

With the adoption industry often suffering from a shortage of healthy newborns and a surplus of parents eager to adopt, the industry is rife with opportunities for illegal activity, so it is vital that you know the law.

It is illegal in every state for an adoption that requires exorbitant amounts of money be paid upfront to go forward, specifically if the money must be paid either directly to the birth mother or to a third party or agency acting as a go-between. Any requests for large sums of money in this manner is an excellent sign that the adoption is a scam or other type of illegal activity. This illegal adoption itself will probably not be legally recognized even if it is completed.

As with any transaction, it’s important to do your research during an adoption. You must make sure that the transaction is above-board and legal, and that neither yourselves, the birth parents, or the child are being scammed or mistreated. By working with an independent adoption attorney who is in good standing with the American Bar Association, you should be able to determine if the particular adoption you are being offered is a legal arrangement or not. If it is not, then you should not go through with it as you could end up not only losing the baby if the court finds out what you have done, but also facing criminal charges since “baby buying” is illegal within the United States.

Whether you use a public or private adoption agency, and whether you adopt internationally or within the country, you absolutely must have all paperwork examined and authorized by a lawyer. You should also check out the agency thoroughly and ensure they are licensed and bonded. If you are asked to have a large sum of money change hands (any amount greater than what it would normally cost to pay for a mother’s health care and the legal fees of a few hours of a lawyers time) then you should proceed very, very cautiously.

Case Studies: Illegal Adoption

Case Study 1: The Upfront Payment Scam

A couple looking to adopt a newborn baby was approached by an adoption agency that required a substantial amount of money to be paid upfront. The agency claimed that the funds were necessary for various adoption-related expenses. However, the couple became suspicious of the large sum requested and decided to consult with an independent adoption attorney.

It was revealed that the agency was engaging in an illegal adoption scheme, attempting to scam prospective adoptive parents. The couple wisely chose not to proceed with the adoption, avoiding potential legal consequences and financial loss.

Case Study 2: Unlicensed Adoption Agency

A couple interested in adopting domestically discovered an adoption agency that seemed reputable. They found the agency’s website informative and professional, and it claimed to have a successful track record. However, upon closer inspection, the couple realized that the agency was not properly licensed and bonded, which raised serious concerns about the legality and legitimacy of their adoption services.

They decided to consult with a lawyer who specialized in adoption law and were advised to steer clear of the unlicensed agency. By taking this cautious approach, they protected themselves from potential legal complications and unethical practices.

Case Study 3: Excessive Financial Transactions

A couple pursuing adoption was asked by the birth parents to engage in a financial arrangement that exceeded the usual costs associated with medical expenses and legal fees. The couple sensed that something was amiss and sought legal guidance to ensure the legality of the situation.

Their attorney discovered that the excessive financial transaction was an attempt to engage in “baby buying,” which is illegal in the United States. By heeding the advice of their lawyer, the couple avoided participating in an illegal adoption and potential criminal charges.

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Jeffrey Johnson

Insurance Lawyer

Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

Insurance Lawyer

Mary Martin

Published Legal Expert

Mary Martin has been a legal writer and editor for over 20 years, responsible for ensuring that content is straightforward, correct, and helpful for the consumer. In addition, she worked on writing monthly newsletter columns for media, lawyers, and consumers. Ms. Martin also has experience with internal staff and HR operations. Mary was employed for almost 30 years by the nationwide legal publi...

Published Legal Expert

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.

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