Iowa Family Falls Victim To Adoption Scam

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DES MOINES, Iowa--A Central Iowa family is hoping by sharing their story they can get the word out about adoption scams.

Like many couples, Melonie and David always knew they wanted children.

“We`ve been married almost 19 years and from day one knew we wanted two kids just didn`t realize it was going to take us 13 years to complete our family,” says Melonie.

After other methods failed, the two turned to adoption and heard from a mom who had picked them.

After paying the adoption agency nearly $10,000 and sending the birth mom money for rent they found out they were being scammed.

“The wear and tear on you is really tough and then when you get the call and you`re so excited and then you get the call that you`ve been scammed and that tears you down,” says David.

The lady turned out not to be pregnant and the money Melonie and David spent was non-refundable.

“We were excited, we thought we were having a baby finally and it was devastating,” says Melonie.

The two were scammed two more times by women claiming to be pregnant in order to get money from potential adoptive parents.

“These women prey on families that just want to be families, they`re desperate to have a child and you`re vulnerable and you believe what you want to believe,” says Melonie.

After several disappointments, Melonie and David finally brought home their oldest daughter but before their family was complete they had another blow.

The two spent three days with a baby in Wisconsin before his birth mother changed her mind.

“The day we were getting ready to leave the hospital, he had the car seat and the doctor came in and said she`s not signing, you`re no longer welcome in the hospital, please leave,” says Melonie.

Melonie and David lost their son and an additional $20,000 they spent in the process.

Iowa Adoption Attorney Ryan Genest says in Iowa adoptive parents can pay a birth mothers legal expenses, pregnancy related medical care, living expenses including rent, food and transportation and counseling without any guarantee of adopting the child.

After years, Melonie and David’s family is finally complete with two adaptive daughters.

However, there are no laws against running an adoption scam and adoptive families don't have many rights. They’re hoping to see that changed to so others don't go through what they did.

“I don`t want to see any other Mom or Dad go through the devastation that we went through, the emotional, the financial, and most of all I don`t want a Mom to not go through this process because she`s scared to have a child,” says Melonie.

Iowa Adoption Associates wants to get the law changed.

It proposes amending Iowa Code to include that falsely representing the availability of an infant or child for adoption is a fraudulent practice in the third degree.

This would result in up to two years in jail.

Currently, women who run false adoption scams get little to no jail time and at most a small fine if money is exchanged between the two parties.

 On Monday, an Ankeny woman was accused of running a similar adoption scam.

11 comments

    • Scootiep

      Yeah, not following this one either. Also, why were the adoption agencies they used not listed. I would think that you would want to make sure people knew which agencies were allowing this sort of practices so potential adoptive parents could steer well clear of them.

    • Tbodee

      Strongly disagree with you Samantha… on so many levels. Adoption can be a win-win-win situation for all parties concerned. Especially in the situations where an “agency” and/ or legitimate adoption attorney are involved. As an expectant parent, I want the best for my future child, and if that includes proper nutrition and a safe, comfortable bed to sleep on, proper medication, and expectation of a non-smoking environment, and I can help provide what is best for the birth mother (and child), than I should not only be willing to do so, but the expectant birth mother should be thankful as well….Now if this is being done maliciously by a woman who is not even pregnant, than that is outright fraud, and should be punishable by jail-time and restitution. If it is an actual birth mother that changes her mind, then while not expected to receive the money or good will back, it should be loosely binding in some way to avoid blatent scamming.

      • anenomekym

        TBODEE, it is outright fraud to administer an amended birth certificate with false information about an adoptee’s birth. It is unjust, unfair, and discriminatory to deny any human being available, accurate information about his/her own birth. Especially when denying the adoptee that information also denies that person from making informed decisions regarding his/her own health or obtaining a passport suitable to move around as freely as someone who had never been adopted. For the adoptee, being permanently and legally severed/amputated from everything familiar and safe for him/her is hardly a win-win-win.

        If you want to provide what is best for the new mother, you can support her in helping to raise her new baby and be a healthy parent to her child, instead of hoping to exploit her and separate her child from her.

      • Abrazo Adoption

        “If it is an actual birthmother that changes her mind…” Tbodee, a woman is not an “actual birthmother” until or unless she places, so any woman who births and elects not to release her child for adoption is simply a mother who has exercised her God-given right to parent her child herself.

    • kym

      So true, Samantha. These hopeful adopters are choosing to pay a lot of money for a risky process so that they can have what they want and have it their way. Hoping for a newborn (or a womb-wet baby) is exploiting an expectant mother at a very emotionally turbulent time for her. Of course any expectant mother should be able to raise her newborn if she wants to (and in an ideal world, the expectant mother will choose to keep her baby).

      When someone chooses to invest in a risky, shady, exploitative practice to satisfy their own wants and distract from feeling or accepting their own pain, and they are told there are no guarantees, then they should realize there are no guarantees. They might lose their money and people might not have sympathy for them because they were hoping to exploit and separate a vulnerable woman and her child for their own gain (and violate the child’s human rights by permanently denying him/her his/her truthful record of birth and history – Iowa is still a closed record state).

      When you try to use the system to scam someone, some people might not empathize with you if you instead get scammed by the system. Besides, I don’t like my tax money helping subsidize people who want to take advantage of vulnerable families and their children.

  • Mindi

    They did NOT lose THEIR son. THEY never had a son. The MOTHER had every right to change her mind. THAT was NOT fraud.However, in the cases where the women were not actually pregnant IS fraud and SHOULD be prosecuted.

  • Sehnsucht Adoptee (@SehnsuchtA)

    PROSPECTIVE [adoptive] parents have many rights and there are already laws in place to prevent this. There are set limits on the amount of cash and what types of goods are legally allowed to be considered “birth mother expenses”. Laws cannot protect those adults who PURPOSELY CHOOSE to ignore them, in this case to give far more money and goods to someone. That is their CHOICE knowing the risk.

    The idea of increasing the laws is worrisome because it could then be challenged that any mother who even considers placing her child and is ‘matched’ to a hopeful couple could then be accused of fraud if she chooses to parent her child.

    The laws are fine as they are. The problem isn’t lax laws or prospective adopters not having any rights or protections. The problem is overly desperate adopters who go around the laws and make the decision to throw every penny they have at a woman and then cry foul when she chooses to parent her child. We cannot buy children, that is human trafficking. Any time you give money to a mother it’s basically a gift and a potential laws. Don’t give more than you can afford to lose. Simple.

  • I adopted my son

    It is interesting that no matter the topic, Internet trolls need to find it and feel compelled to write nonsense about it.

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