Adopting Baby Lucia























This is a long story but please bare with me as the lessons I have learned the hard way might be of use to someone out there.

At first I was scared of babies. I was always afraid that they would cry if I touched them. Or that they would break if I picked them up. That was very long ago and a lot has changed in my life since that time. When I was in my early 20’s I got my first real up close and personal experience with handling and playing with a baby and I fell in love with her right away. My whole perception on the matter of babies took a 180 degree turn. My girlfriend at that time and I practically raised her sister’s little girl since the mother was always out to clubs and just dropped the kid off with us to babysit. Sometimes without enough food and clothes. She probably spent more time with us than her mother up to the age of about 3 years. The first time I reluctantly held that little girl in my arms she didn’t cry, she didn’t break, she just looked into my eyes and smiled. My heart melted. We had lots of hard times but even more good times together.

Time went by and lives moved on and my girlfriend and I had a bitter breakup and went our separate ways.

Then I met a wonderful girl and fell in love with her and her 3year old son. We got married about a year later and I adopted her son and added a family name to his. We eventually decided to try for a baby but things did go so well. She just couldn’t get pregnant no matter what we tried. After some years we decided that it was just not meant to be and gave up trying.

Then one day, out of the blue, she fell pregnant and we had a wonderful little boy. Life just couldn’t get any better. Well, my youngest is now almost 3 years old and the oldest have been asking when he is getting a little sister. And that really started stirring the heart strings and bringing back the memories of raising that little girl long ago. We decided that now is the perfect time to have one last child and we so desperately want a little girl.
For various good reasons we decided that to adopt was the best option in our case and I started to research the procedures. I got a bit discouraged when I found out that the list of parents waiting was very long and there are very few girls fitting our criteria.

Then one day I found a glimmer of hope on the internet. I found a mother who wanted to give up her 8 month old baby girl for adoption. I immediately started corresponding with her and she told me her sad story about how her husband tragically died a year ago in a skiing accident. She now wants to devote her life to a missionary where she lives in Central Africa and can no longer take care of the child. She also sent me photos of herself and the beautiful little baby and asked me for photos of my family which I gladly sent back.

Everything was looking good and I was at the point of consulting with a local social worker to handle things this side. I then got in touch with the mother’s attorney who started to explain the process to me. All the while I was doing more research into adoptions and especially international procedures when I stumbled upon some very disturbing information.

Adoption scams. Who would have ever thought of such a horrible thing? Emotions easily override common sense and I tried to put such negative things out of my mind, but the seed of doubt was sown in my mind and kept bothering me all the time. I did more research on the matter especially in Cameroon, where she is located, and that seed in my mind soon started to sprout.

I decided to contact the US Embassy in Cameroon and explained to them my whole situation and my concerns about fraud and gave them all the details I had of the mother and the attorney.

Then this morning I received a mail back from the embassy. To my utmost horror they confirmed that this was indeed one of many such scams running in Cameroon.

 I am still in shock and disbelief as I’m writing this. Quoted here is the mail I got from The US Embassy in its entirety:
(Names withheld)

Start Quote”
Doep,
My name is ******, and I am the Regional Security Officer for the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon. One of my colleagues at the U.S. Embassy forwarded me the message that you sent earlier today. You were right to be suspicious-- this offer is a scam. Do not feel foolish. You were wise to contact the Embassy when you suspected fraud. It may not be much comfort to you, but any information you can provide about the scammer may spare someone else some grief in the future.
  1. When and where did you see this offer advertised?
  2. What names/e-mail addresses/phone numbers did the scammer use? (The same thief is likely pretending to be both the mother and the attorney)
  3. Have you sent the scammer any money or personal information or financial data?
Sadly, Cameroon is suffering from an epidemic of cybercrime in the last few years, and the U.S. Embassy is doing what it can to fight the spread of this disease. Bogus adoption offers are a popular scam because international adoptions are extraordinarily complex and scammers can invent “attorneys” who will solve imaginary problems for a price. The scammers then will seek money orders or wire transfers for a host of court documents, visa fees, insurance, airport charges, and licenses. None of it is real, and it would have just kept on going until you finally stopped replying to e-mails or ran out of money. And the scammer would merely change his e-mail address and start working on another victim.

Beware: A new trend that the embassy has seen is scammers sending e-mails to persons that already have been victimized alleging to be the “Cameroonian LAX Police” or the “Cameroonian FBI”. These scammers claim that they will investigate the crime, arrest the scammer and return any stolen money to the victim—for a fee, of course. The victim is asked to pay a one-time, refundable “case filing fee” to open the investigation. Sadly, I have worked with Cameroonian law enforcement, and most police stations are lucky to have typewriters, let alone computers with internet access. Many police departments are as corrupt as the scammers themselves. 

Cameroonian law enforcement is not alone in receiving blame for this broken system. A scammer can readily change his e-mail address and phone number if he feels that someone is watching him, and in Cameroon, an identity can just as easily be changed with a new birth certificate or ID card bought with a bribe to a government official. Money transfer outlets like Western Union and MoneyGram have huge networks in Cameroon, as they do brisk business here receiving money from the United States, and there is no functional equivalent of a court-ordered warrant to reveal a receiver’s true name and transaction history. The Cameroonian justice system also finds ways to permit the wealthy to escape jail time, so even if caught, the scammer can buy his freedom. 

I have two suggestions for you: First, I would ask that you file a complaint notice with the Internet Crime Complaint Center or IC3 (www.ic3.gov), which is a joint partnership between the FBI, the National White Collar Crime Center and the Bureau of Justice Assistance. Your complaint might help prevent someone else from falling into this same trap. Secondly, I ask that you share this information with others at craigslist.org or the website where you first saw this notice. The more information we share, the better protected we are against fraud.

Again, I am sorry for the loss of your time and effort. I wish you all the best in your search for a loving and legitimate adoption.
“End Quote.


Can you imagine the feelings of shock, doubt, anger and sadness milling around in my head right now!? I feel emotionally raped. What sort of monstrous human being can put another person through such emotional torture just to gain money? When I go home today, I have to explain this all to my wife. How can I put her through this? It feels like losing a child. I am just so angry right now and I know this will all turn into deep depression over the weekend. We will just have to be strong for each other to be able to put this behind us now.

That’s my story. I hope it will help someone out there to avoid falling into a similar trap and save someone from this pain that I’m feeling right now.
PapAdder PapAdder
36-40, M
1 Response Jul 30, 2010

I got that same email you did.From the lawyer and bla bla.I found it on CL and knew it was a scam.I sent no pictures and no information.They also do scams with pets and just friendship scams.She'll tell you she needs to buy personal care items and wants you to send $50 so she can get what she needs.Send no money Camroon's way.Really that part of the planet should not have internet to contact the rest of the planet.