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Adoption fraud in Massachusetts

Adoption gives many Massachusetts residents the opportunity to raise and care for children as if they were their own, but the emotional nature of the adoption process provides fertile ground for those seeking to profit through deception and fraud. Adoption fraud or wrongful adoption occurs when individuals or adoption agencies profit financially through illegal acts or misrepresentation during the adoption process.

One common form of adoption fraud involves birth mothers promising their child to a number of couples in return for financial support during her pregnancy. Other cases involve adoption agencies withholding pertinent facts about a child's background from adoptive parents. While some individuals are prosecuted for attempting to sell a baby, cases involving adoption agencies charging excessive fees or requiring payment for services not rendered are far more common. These crimes are generally prosecuted under existing theft by deception laws.

Signs that things may be amiss during the adoption process include birth mothers or adoption agencies that are difficult to communicate with or evasive and pressure being applied to adoptive parents to enter into agreements quickly and with little explanation. Another warning sign is the use of tactics designed to create an emotional bond between adoptive parents and the child early in the adoption process. The integrity of birth mothers could be called into question if they make persistent demands for payment, refuse to meet in person or fail to provide proof that they are pregnant.

An experienced family law attorney will likely be familiar with the common forms of adoption fraud, and they will also understand how adoptive parents may sometimes overlook warning signs due to their desire to adopt and raise a child. An attorney with experience in this area could assess a potential adoption from an emotionally neutral perspective, and they may be able to help adoptive parents to avoid becoming a victim of adoption fraud.

Source: Findlaw, "Adoption Fraud", November 24, 2014

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