I love IAC support group meetings. They’re a place of cookies, babies and people who know exactly what we’re going through. Recently, a group-goer I’ll call Melanie (because later I will say that she and her husband are funny and good-looking, so clearly I need to protect their identities) shared that she’d gotten a call from a woman claiming to be pregnant. But this woman was about to go camping where no one would be able to reach her for days. And there was some reason she couldn’t call the IAC. Oh, and she was having twins.
A few red flags there, right? But Melanie had confessed excitedly to her husband that she thought this was “the one.” Her adoption counselor gently explained what was going on. Melanie was disappointed, but she felt like the experience was a rite of passage.
Flash forward to the next support group meeting. Melanie and Tim had been contacted by two more scammers. This time they were more cautious, and the group joked about how, soon, they’d be picking up the phone and snapping “Whaddayuhwant?”
By this point, Cecilia’s and my profile had gone live, and I’d been checking the Gmail account we’d linked to it every day. All we had to show for our efforts was one piece of spam. Not an adoption scam—just regular old Viagra spam.
Everyone says that the longer you wait, the more you’ll start wondering, What’s wrong with us? Why are other people adopting before we do? What I didn’t expect was to envy people who’d been contacted by a fake birthmother.
Melanie and Tim are an attractive couple with a witty profile. Were Cecilia and I not cute enough? Were our Halloween costume photos not as cool as Melanie and Tim’s? Did our profile make us seem poor, and therefore bad targets for extortion?
A few weeks later, our lonely little inbox had an email with the subject line “bady for adoption.” I’d been hoping for a baby, but hey, maybe a bady would do. The emailer explained that she’d gotten pregnant and been dumped by her boyfriend. She’d given birth already (red flag #1) and was currently living in the street, but wanted to go back to school. She didn’t give any specifics about her daughter (red flag #2) or say anything about what drew her to our profile (red flag #3) or ask any questions (red flag #4—but maybe some people are just rude?).
As a finishing touch, she’d attached two baby photos that appeared to be lifted straight from a JC Penney catalog. You could even see that some kind of logo had been half cropped from the bottom (giant, enormous, comical red flag).
But, well, the baby was really cute. As most child models are.
I did what I was supposed to do: I sent a short, polite reply empathizing with her situation and encouraging her to call the IAC; forwarded the email to our adoption counselor; and notified an intake counselor. I congratulated myself on not getting fooled, even as a tiny part of me hoped that soon we’d be laughing with our birthmother about how we’d initially mistaken her email for a scam. We would bounce our insta-baby and discuss putting the money from her JC Penney shoot in a college savings account.
It’s been a week since that email, and I haven’t heard back from the alleged expectant mother, so I guess she’s moved on. I was sort of hoping she would email back, if only to ask us to wire her money for tuition. I guess I liked playing the part of actual adoptive parent as much as she liked pretending to have a baby for us.
Next time, I hope neither we nor the woman contacting us will be just going through the motions. In the meantime, I’ll comfort myself with the knowledge that our profile is out there in the world—where, as every parent knows, all sorts of good and bad realities await.