What constitutes an illegal adoption?
UPDATED: February 20, 2013
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With the adoption industry often suffering from a shortage of healthy newborns and a surplus of parents eager to adopt, the industry is rife with opportunities for illegal activity, so it is vital that you know the law.
It is illegal in every state for an adoption that requires exorbitant amounts of money be paid upfront to go forward, specifically if the money must be paid either directly to the birth mother or to a third party or agency acting as a go-between. Any requests for large sums of money in this manner is an excellent sign that the adoption is a scam or other type of illegal activity. This illegal adoption itself will probably not be legally recognized even if it is completed.
As with any transaction, it's important to do your research during an adoption. You must make sure that the transaction is above-board and legal, and that neither yourselves, the birth parents, or the child are being scammed or mistreated. By working with an independent adoption attorney who is in good standing with the American Bar Association, you should be able to determine if the particular adoption you are being offered is a legal arrangement or not. If it is not, then you should not go through with it as you could end up not only losing the baby if the court finds out what you have done, but also facing criminal charges since "baby buying" is illegal within the United States.
Whether you use a public or private adoption agency, and whether you adopt internationally or within the country, you absolutely must have all paperwork examined and authorized by a lawyer. You should also check out the agency thoroughly and ensure they are licensed and bonded. If you are asked to have a large sum of money change hands (any amount greater than what it would normally cost to pay for a mother's health care and the legal fees of a few hours of a lawyers time) then you should proceed very, very cautiously.