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.