New Law Toughens Adoption Fraud Penalty

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  On Tuesday, Governor Branstad signed a new bill toughening Iowa laws on adoption.

The new law gives adoptive families more protection against scammers. In the past, some women have claimed to be pregnant in order to get money from potential adoptive parents.

Channel 13 spoke with a family that was scammed out of thousands of dollars three times before adopting their two daughters. They say they had no way to get their money back or catch the criminals.

"This would have given us some recourse to go after the women who were doing the scams," said Melonie Wallace.

As it stands now, if those women are caught, they will face class C felony charges, whereas before Tuesday, it was just a misdemeanor.

The new law also includes court documentation of expenses paid by potential adoptive parents.

"At the front end, at the termination of parental rights, so if there are any unauthorized expenses, if there is any scamming going on, it will come to the court's attention right up front," said LuAnn Barnes of Adoption Advocates of Iowa.

Advocates are prepared to keep pushing for changes in the law. Next legislative session, the goal is to extend parental leave for adoptive parents.