The couple who turned in a Roslyn, N.Y., lawyer for allegedly masterminding a multi-state adoption Ponzi scheme admitted they ignored numerous red flags along the way. But practitioners say the adoption field itself remains such a legal gray area that it tests the ethical limits of the attorneys who specialize in it.

“We should have been smarter sooner in the process,” said Deborah Josephs of Port Washington, who said that she and her husband were duped into giving attorney Kevin Cohen $60,000 for two prospective adoption matches that never materialized. “It was disgusting, an emotional nightmare.”