May 30, 2019
This story is stranger-than-fiction. No words can adequately describe the hurt that Matt and Laura experienced as a result. It’s also an important story to tell to raise awareness in the adoption community.
To start this episode, April asks Matt and Laura when they started trying for adoption.
Laura says that their son was about 3 years old when they first decided on adoption. They had 6 rounds of infertility treatments in total but had no luck. Matt and Laura both decided to pursue adoption.
They first started with an agency, but things didn’t work out. Laura had the idea to create a website called A Sibling For Hudson for the purpose of connecting with a birth mom. Laura says that signing with an agency was too big of a financial commitment.
The power of the website and social media was made apparent right away. They connected with a few birth mothers early on, but it would be a few months before they found the birth mother that connected with them the most.
April asks Matt and Laura why they connected with this particular birth mother so strongly.
“We just had a lot going on with a son already in our lives. We were looking for something a little more normal.”
With normalcy in mind, April wondered if a birth mother with a normal situation meant she was less likely to place. Laura says they really didn’t have any idea, but that everything she said sounded conducive to placement. Matt echoes this by saying that the family already had two kids and they were interested in pursuing their respective careers, so they didn’t have the finances either. And so, they decided on an open adoption.
When asked how they connected to the birth mother, Elizabeth, Laura said she had an instantaneous connection, almost like they were sisters. She lived in Nickelsville, Virginia and Laura soon decided to visit her and meet her in person. They took pictures together, did a lot of activities, and met with a lawyer.
Both Laura and the birth mother did almost everything together -- everything except visiting Elizabeth’s doctor for ultrasound. That disappointed Laura, as going to that doctor’s appointment was one of the biggest reasons that Laura had visited.
Laura says that even though she should have trusted her gut when things seemed off, she didn’t. She just had a lot of empathy for the birth mother and the grief that said she was going through.
The one thing that Laura and Matt DID NOT have was proof of pregnancy. Sadly, the lawyer they worked with during the process was feeding them misinformation about what they could and couldn’t know about the adoption.
April stresses during this episode: “Get proof of pregnancy!” April builds off of this and says that some women will send out fake ultrasounds, so getting in contact with the doctor is crucial!
Laura returned home in November 2018, now 100% invested in bringing her new baby home through adoption. She even hears from birth mother that she is experiencing preterm labor symptoms.
Around Thanksgiving, Elizabeth expresses to Laura that she just wants to be done with the pregnancy. A normal for many expectant mothers! Not long after, the birth mother tells Laura that her doctor had said the baby was healthy and would come soon. Laura and Matt hustled out to Virginia to be with her and to witness the birth of their daughter. Once they arrived, they spent time with her and cared for her because she was experiencing visible pain with contractions.
April asked where the birth mother’s husband was during all of this. They were told he was unhappy with the adoption, so he didn’t want to be around, which they said was feasible enough to be believable.
The baby wasn’t due until February, and they were anxious about their daughter’s health. They trusted Elizabeth had heard from the doctor that their baby was healthy and would be born shortly after the cerclage was removed.
So, with friends and family supporting them during this anxious time, Matt and Laura believed that their daughter was coming. Time passed. Matt was missing work and their son, Hudson, was missing school. So they told the birth mother they would be back whenever the baby was going to be born. This was November 28th. Later that night, lo and behold, the birth mother sent them a picture of blood in the toilet and the news that she was heading to the doctor.
At 7 in the morning the next day, the birth mother said she was rushing to the hospital with her husband and that she was in labor. Laura spoke to her on the phone as she was screaming her way through ‘labor’, saying that the baby was coming. They told Laura and Matt they were going to a different hospital, so they were heading there.
April stops the interview at this point and asks if they were paying any expenses to the birth mother, and both Laura and Matt said they were not.
Matt and Laura got to the hospital and waited near the ER, but heard no news on the baby’s arrival. They then asked for help from the nurses on staff.
“We go down to the ER and they are like ‘there is nobody with that name that has been delivered here by ambulance.”
They found out that a woman named Elizabeth Jones had checked herself in for back pain. Wondering if it was ‘their’ Elizabeth, they decided to take the nurses’ advice and check to see. To their surprise, it was the same woman they had trusted and gotten to know for so long. But after Elizabeth talked to the caseworker, she then denied she ever knew Matt and Laura.
Laura says that Elizabeth looked her in the eyes without emotion and didn’t say a word. With that, Elizabeth acted as if she had never met Laura in her life.
Matt and Laura said it was heart-shattering for not only them but for Hudson as well. He was confused and in tears, devastated that he was not going to be a big brother.
April asked them if they ever learned why would do such a horrible thing to them and they said no. They have a hunch that she checked herself into the hospital for the sole purpose of seeing their full emotional anguish. If she derived enjoyment from hurting them, checking herself into the hospital was the climactic moment she worked towards.
Little did Matt and Laura know that Elizabeth was out on parole for credit card fraud and was actually wearing a tracking bracelet at the time. She now faces nine felony indictments for obtaining money under false pretenses and will go to court for adoption fraud in June. Adoption fraud is a serious offense. Matt and Laura are taking the steps to make sure this does not happen to any other adoptive families.
For more on this stranger-than-fiction adoption story and on adoption scams in general, listen in and check out the ADOPTION NOW Youtube channel for a video accompaniment.