'Happy couple seek newborn or infant': The rise of private adoption as would-be parents use Craigslist to find unwanted babies
17:34 GMT, 16 November 2012
Childless couples who have spent years unsuccessfully trying to have a baby are now turning to Craigslist in the hopes of adopting a child.
While people have been used newspaper classified ads to find adoptive children for years, prospective parents across America are now connecting directly with birth mothers online.
The popularity of private adoption online is growing rapidly, putting the power back in the hands of would-be parents without a bureaucratic middle man.
Craigslist babies: Tracey and Dan Citron of Minnesota posted an ad on Craiglist, saying they were interested in adopting a child, six-weeks later they got a response and now have two healthy little boys
Piper Weiss, a writer who has been investigating the world of private adoption online, told ABC: 'It allows them to connect with each other, potentially, but also it forces them to be their own filter and kind of be their own experts in the matter.'
However, she added: 'There are a lot of risks and a lot of reward to that.'
Once connected, prospective parents and birth mothers, who can only advertise for private adoption in selected states, still need support from an adoption agency or an attorney.
But as demand for private adoption grows, so does an increasing number of online scammers taking advantage of vulnerable parents-to-be.
'The second someone starts asking for money in the first conversation, that's a big red flag'
After couple Megan and Steve from
Buffalo, New York, successfully adopted their son Aiden, they they began
to advertise online for his brother or sister, however they learned the
hard way that private adoption can be as sketchy as it can be
They were contacted by a woman who claimed to be pregnant, named Kimberly Persuitte.
'Megan said: 'There was so much
flip-flopping in between. They wanted to be independent and they wanted
to support themselves and then half an hour later we would get a phone
call, like, “You know what, we really need that $50 for gas and by the
way I'm going to need that weekly because my doctor's office is really
Advertising: Childless couples who have spent years unsuccessfully trying to have a baby are now turning to Craigslist in the hopes of adopting a child
New connections: While people have been using classified ads in newspapers to find adoptive children for years, prospective parents across America are now connecting directly with potential birth mothers online
After Googling Ms Persuitte's name, they found she had been convicted of sending bad checks, identity theft and burglary.
The couple's adoption coordinator, Barb Sternberg, said: 'When somebody is pushing money, money, money, I needed it yesterday, it's instantly a concern.
'I always tell my clients the second someone starts asking for money in the first conversation, that's a big red flag.'
However, when Tracey and Dan Citron of Minnesota posted an ad on Craiglist, saying they were interested in adopting a child, Tammy Nelson, a mother-to-be, responded to their ad six-weeks later, and now they have a healthy little boy named Ben.
Ms Nelson said: 'When I Googled it, I
put adoption in Phoenix and the first was a Craigslist for Dan and
Tracey, it was literally that quick.
Birth mom: Tammy Nelson, already a mother-of-one and in an abusive relationship, responded to the Citrons' Craigslist ad, giving her second son, Ben, up for adoption
Happy and healthy: It has been two years since Ben was born, and Ms Nelson, who has seen him once in that time, has been watching him grow up through Tracey Citrons' Facebook updates
'I said, “Hi, I'm pregnant, and I need help and this is the situation, what do you think” And she said, “I'm really happy you called us.” It was perfect.'
Ms Nelson, who was financially dependent on her physically abusive husband while raising her son, Ryder, said abortion wasn't an option. She felt that giving the child up for adoption was the right thing to do.
It has been two years since Ben was born, and Ms Nelson, who has seen him once in that time, now has a new fiance and has been watching him grow up through the Citrons' Facebook updates.
She said: 'It is hard seeing Ben be able to do stuff that I was never able to afford for my first son, like gymnastics. I think every parent wants the best they can do for their kid.
'I'm happy Ben has that… that he has a family that loves him and he has all the opportunities in his life.'