Shocking adoption hoax

My heart started pounding in anticipation when I received that email last Friday. Could this be it? What we’ve been hoping and praying for? You see, we’ve been waiting more than a year already to add to our family via adoption and with each passing month, the age gap between our (adopted) daughter and her sibling grows wider and wider as she gets older.

My hands shaking, heart pounding I called the number on the email, the email that said there was a birth mom in Pretoria who wanted to place her two day old twin baby girls up for adoption.


I tried again, engaged again!

I kept the number on redial and kept praying that I’d get through. It took 40 minutes but eventually a very irate man answered the phone and told me that he did not know the person who I was looking for and nor did he know anything about these twin baby girls that everyone was calling him to enquire about.

Online and viral, for the wrong reasons

It was a hoax. One that spread across South Africa’s infertility community like wild fire via email, sms’s, BBM and Face Book.
I was bitterly disappointed; how could someone start such a cruel hoax?
But I, along with the hundreds of others from the infertility community, got off lightly. One friend who’d received the message via Face Book somehow got contacted by the social worker who was handling the adoption of these baby girls and she was beside herself with excitement as they had arranged to meet the following day to discuss the arrangements for her to adopt the babies.

‘Pay up’ alarm bells

At her meeting with the social worker the next day, the story changed from the one she’d originally been told, she couldn’t see the babies as they’d already been discharged from hospital and were at home with the dad, but if she wanted to proceed with the adoption, she’d need to pay R25 000 up front in outstanding hospital bills so that the birth mother could be discharged and they could then manage the adoption process from there. Thankfully my friend managed to not get swept up in the emotion of the situation and realized that something was amiss.

These types of adoption hoax/scam stories are not unheard of, they happen. People who prey on the “desperate” with no regard for the hurt they cause.

We have been approached twice in the past to adopt babies, neither of those times worked out well for us. In one case the baby died under mysterious circumstances and in the other we were forced to decide if we were willing to enter into a bidding war and “buy” a baby with the winner being the adoptive parents who were willing to pay the most money. Of course when we realized what was going on, we backed out as quickly as possible.

Quick tips for avoiding adoption hoaxes and scams

When being approached by someone to adopt their baby, always remember the following:
  • In most cases, when a birth mother wants to place her baby for adoption, she will already have approached a social worker for assistance, the social worker in turn will have a list of suitable, counselled, prospective adoptive parents.
  • Get your social worker involved immediately, regardless of how you’re approached, don’t try to handle any negotiations on your own. You social worker is there to act in the best interests of all involved and is experienced in the necessary counselling of the birth family which is an essential part of placing a baby for adoption. 
  • Don’t pay any money up front, whether it be to the birth mother or for medical expenses, the only fees you should be paying up front are fees to a social worker who will in turn advise you on what the fees for the completed adoption will be.
  • Be careful about posting your details with the intent of finding your own birth mother on forums or anywhere else on the web.
I think it’s important to emphasize that in most of these cases, whether they be adoption scams or hoaxes, it’s the ignoring of the South African Child Act and/or trying to operate outside of the stipulations of the Child Act that often results in adoptive parents being mislead.

Have you ever heard of adoption hoaxes catching people out?

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.
Paul Davids 2012/09/17 10:32:54 AM
My Gosh!!how cruel
Karin Steenkamp 2012/09/17 11:14:45 AM
Yep. In our case, someone sent us that SMS the day after we had a miscarriage. Words fail me.
ScottSQ 2012/09/17 11:27:20 AM
It's horrific that people would even consider exploiting other's emotions in this way.
Doep Briel 2012/09/18 11:56:31 AM
My wife and I have been through this but luckily discovered that it was a scam when they started asking for money and would not let us get our own social worker involved. Truly heartless cretins roaming this planet.
estelle.odendaalbennett 2012/09/18 12:42:49 PM
Adoptive parents should avail themselves of the laws and processes involved in adoption. This way you will know that a child cannot merely be placed with the adoptive parents, but have to be declared "adoptable" first, which only happens after the time has expired for the birth parents to change their mind about giving up the child. Parents also have to go through the appropriate screening to make it onto the register of adopting parents. We adopted twice, both before and after the laws changed (3 months ago in fact) and can rest assured that all the procedures have been followed and we are not in for any nasty surprises. Good luck to all parents still waiting - and don't be conned...your time will come!
Zelda Botha Emmerich 2012/09/18 12:59:56 PM
I have no words.