We get it – meeting new people is exciting, but you should always be cautious when interacting with someone you don’t know - particularly when online. While you can’t control the actions of others, there are things you can do to help you stay safe during your PairTree experience.
According to our research:
89% of hopeful adoptive parents fear being scammed by someone claiming to be an expectant mom.
87% of expectant moms fear that adoptive parents won’t keep their word about letting them participate in the lives of their children.
By following PairTree’s nine Safe Connection Tips below, we can put an end to both of those fears.
1. Look for the security icons.
Expectant moms with the badge icon on their profile picture have had their identities verified. That means PairTree has used location verification, time stamping and facial recognition to verify that they are who they say they are.
Adoptive parents with the badge icon on their profile detail page are home study approved. That means they have been approved to adopt by adoption professionals in the State they live in.
Here are a couple videos to help with the Verify Tool:
2. Be honest and direct, early.
One of the advantages to self-matching on PairTree is the ability to develop an honest and direct relationship with one another. If both parties are honest and direct about their wants and needs, the relationship will flourish. A few topics to discuss with one another are:
- How open would you like the relationship to be?
- How much contact do you want with each other?
- Are there any health concerns?
- What do you imagine for the birth plan?
These (and others) are all perfectly normal questions to ask one another.
3. Stay on the platform.
Keep conversations on the PairTree platform while you’re getting to know someone. Users with bad intentions often try to move the conversation to text, messaging apps, email, or phone right away.
4. Verify the pregnancy.
Ideally, an Expectant Mom will gladly provide proof of pregnancy early in the conversation.
If not, we can all acknowledge that it is hard to be tactful when it feels like you’re asking someone for proof that they are not being dishonest, especially when adoptive parents and expectant moms want to focus on building connection and trust with one another.
These days though, the need for verification is just one of the steps that needs to be taken before plans for adoption can proceed, including approval of any financial assistance by the court. (Though even when no financial assistance is being requested, adoptive parents should still ask an expectant mother to provide proof of pregnancy.)
While ultrasound pictures are good, scammers sometimes use doctored or stolen images of ultrasounds. The best way to verify a pregnancy is a verification form.
Pregnancy verification form – this is a letter that an expectant mom can request from her doctor. It confirms that the woman is indeed pregnant, details the date when the woman visited the doctor, clinic or hospital, the estimated date of delivery, and any additional notes or comments related to the test. (If an expectant mom does not have a doctor, your social worker, agency or attorney should be able to help find a provider for her.)
5. Scammers aren’t always after money. Sometimes they are after attention.
An emotional scammer isn’t after money; she’s after your attention. She plays on the natural hopes, dreams, fears, loss and insecurity of prospective parents to keep your doting, dedicated attention as long as she can.
An emotional scammer’s pattern is often similar to a typical adoption scam. She contacts you – and pretends to be an expectant mom. She overshares with you, and often has a tear-jerking or complicated story. She “picks you” to be the parents to her unborn child rather quickly. She reels you in with sympathy and excitement. You spend hours listening to her, supporting her, and encouraging her. All only to find out, there’s no baby (which is the reason we recommend all our expectant moms verify their pregnancies when the time is right), or if there was a baby – she never intended to place the baby for adoption.
If it does happen to you, know that you’re not alone…, it happened to us:
To find additional support, visit our Community & Support forums
6. Face-to-face time is really important.
Be wary of anyone who will not meet in person (if that’s an available option) or connect on a video call — they may not be who they say they are. If someone is avoiding your questions or pushing for a serious relationship without meeting or getting to know you first — that’s a red flag. Excuses and delaying a meeting are red flags. If the person can’t meet with you personally, hire an attorney, counselor, social worker or agency to (act on your behalf) and facilitate face-to-face interactions.
7. Prepare yourself.
Expectant moms are going to change their mind and decide to parent — it’s a small but understandable percentage of women. As adoptive parents that have been through it, we know how devastating that can be, and at the same time how happy we all are for the expectant mom. The best thing you can do is to prepare yourself that this might happen to you. Do you have a support system in place? Who will you turn to if it happens? How will you tell friends and family? Regardless, we want you to know that you always have us.
8. Never send money.
Any financial transactions between an adoptive parent and expectant mom need to be facilitated by an attorney or adoption agency, and be done according to State law. Click here to learn about the laws in your state.
While helping an expectant mother with certain expenses is a completely normal part of the process, never send money directly, especially over wire transfer, even if the person claims to be in an emergency. A scammer will typically have a crisis situation and need immediate funding for something. Instead, refer the person to your attorney, counselor, social worker, or agency.
9. Report suspicious, offensive or scammer behavior.
If someone’s crossed the line, we want to know about it. There is a ‘Block and Report’ icon on all profiles for anyone that violates our terms. Here are some examples of violations:
Requests for money or donations
Harassment, threats, and offensive messages
Spam or solicitation including links to commercial websites or attempts to sell products or services
You can report any concerns about suspicious behavior from any profile page or messaging window by clicking the ‘Block and Report’ icon.
Reporting is an anonymous and permanent action. They will not know you reported them. You will not see their profile again, nor will they see yours.