Story of adoption scam is a cautionary tale - KCTV5

Story of adoption scam is a cautionary tale

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This is the nursery the Duckworth's decorated in anticipation of adopting a baby. However, it didn't work out. (Natalie Davis/KCTV) This is the nursery the Duckworth's decorated in anticipation of adopting a baby. However, it didn't work out. (Natalie Davis/KCTV)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

One family who had their adoption go terribly wrong is telling their story in the hopes of preventing others from ending up in the same situation.

The Duckworths were blessed with their adoptive son Ryker three years ago, and they were excited to grow their family with a baby girl who would have joined them in a beautiful nursery today.

“We get excited about filling this room, but it's empty,” said Braden Duckworth.

The Duckworth family made a video introducing themselves to the baby they hoped to adopt, and an Arkansas woman agreed to let them adopt her baby.

They coordinated through adoption.com and got attorneys involved. They thought everything was set, but soon found out it was too good to be true.

“Every day she would start texting us and calling us and asking for more money,” said Kristen Duckworth.

Then they found the woman and her boyfriend under a fake name on Facebook.

Each time they’d send money to help her, the woman and her boyfriend would show off the cash and go on shopping sprees for expensive shoes and clothes.

The $8,000 in legal fees and support for the woman in Arkansas is gone, but – even more heartbreaking -- so is the baby.

“When you think about the turmoil that it makes her go through and my family go through,” said Braden Duckworth, “it's hard.”

Missouri does law allow a birth mother to change her mind about adoption, but the Duckworths believe she never had any intention of giving up the baby.

“It's pretty heartbreaking to walk in and see it all and it's empty,” said Kristen Duckworth. “Now we're to the point where we have to decide if we can start over or not.”

The joy their son Ryker gives them is what keeps them going.

“We have a lot of hope, and we're excited,” said Braden Duckworth. “This isn't the end for us.”

The Duckworths plan to press fraud charges against the couple in Arkansas for the money they allegedly took and abused.

KCTV5 spoke with the Lori Burns-Bucklew, Director of Legal Services for Foster Adopt Connect, which is an organization that advocates for foster and adoptive children and parents. 

"Within adoption law,” she said, “there aren't very many remedies for people who are fooled like that, because the law is really respectful of a biological mother's decisions.”

The laws surrounding adoption are complex and different in every state.

"There are hundreds of people out there who will take advantage of people who are desperately yearning for children,” she said, “and it's not a good idea to expose yourself to that.”

Therefore, she recommends always going through an accredited adoption agency.  Because “they will look after your interests as well as the interests of the mother and the child.”

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