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Surrogacy Scam Underscores Importance Of Proper Notarial Procedures And Documentation

A recent corruption case in which a Ukraine-based organization scammed surrogate mothers into a “baby-selling ring” is increasing the scrutiny of adoption-related procedures. A likely target of scrutiny will be proper documentation, much of which involves notarization.

The organization offered money to U.S. surrogates to fly to the Ukraine for in vitro fertilization procedures, thereby skirting medical paperwork required in the U.S. The impregnated women would then have their babies in California, one of the only states where the parents of a biologically unrelated baby carried by a surrogate can still be listed on the baby’s birth certificate. The scam targeted both the surrogates and the couples attempting to adopt, and the scheme unraveled when one of the impregnated women became uneasy and consulted a legitimate adoption lawyer.

The case, which arrives on the heels of other high-profile international adoption cases involving fraud and corruption, underscores the importance of proper documentation within the adoption process, particularly international adoptions. Notaries can help protect the public from such scams by understanding the types of forms that they may be asked to notarize, properly identifying the signer, and ensuring their willingness and awareness.

Cases involving adoption and surrogacy require particular sensitivity on the part of the Notary. If you suspect that a signer is not fully aware of what the documents mean or that they are being coerced into signing, the NNA advises that you halt the proceedings immediately and not complete the notarization. Sometimes, something as simple as a sense of uneasiness can be the signal something isn’t right — as this particular case illustrated.

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