Monica and her husband, Max, say they placed an online adoption ad last August and were elated when they were contacted by Danette, who chose them to adopt her unborn baby — which surprisingly turned out to be twins. Monica and Max say they’ve spent as much as $40,000 preparing for parenthood and already consider the babies their own — but they’ve yet to meet them. Is this an adoption scam?
Desperate for a Baby
Monica and Max explain how they met a pregnant woman online who wanted them to adopt her unborn baby — and the unexpected twists and turns their journey has taken in the eight months since.
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“This was definitely a dream come true.”
Monica tells Dr. Phil that she wasn’t put off by learning the children were a product of rape. “I just wanted to know that they were healthy. I didn’t care how they were conceived,” she says. Monica says they learned from the birth mother, Danette, that the girl, whom they named Mikayla, may have a slight autism, and the boy, Mason, may have health problems because he was so small at birth — just 3 pounds, 2 ounces.
A Huge Investment
Monica says they’ve have spent as much as $40,000 preparing for two babies, including books, furniture and clothes, as well as moving to a bigger house and buying a new SUV. Max says Monica’s spending got out of control. “Throughout the process, our house converted to the baby house,” Max says. “Monica doubled and tripled up on everything. Not 10 bottles — 50 bottles. Not two sets of diapers, but 20 sets of diapers for children that aren’t even here yet.”
A Friend in Doubt
Wendy reached out to Dr. Phil about her best friend’s adoption struggles. “I’ve seen probably every single one of Dr. Phil’s episodes on catfishing.
I compared Monica’s life to one of Dr. Phil’s catfish shows and a light bulb went off. There are a lot of things about the adoption that just do not add up. On Facebook, I read that, miraculously, the mother gave birth to twins. I was shocked because in this day and age, how do you not know that you have twins? On Facebook, the photos made me very suspicious. The photos were highly digitalized, thus making them look cropped, or I thought maybe they were photos of photos. I would say she’s blinded by love for these babies. What Monica needs to realize is this woman is scamming her.” Wendy grows tearful. “I just feel bad for her. This is painful to me because Monica is so deserving of a child, and I know she would be a fabulous mother. It breaks my heart.”
Dr. Phil goes over possible warning signs that Monica and Max may have missed in their experience with Danette: They have not signed any adoption paperwork; they couldn’t find a rape incident report; there were no medical records provided; there was no proof of pregnancy other than feeling the baby kick; Danette claimed she knew she was going to deliver two weeks late, and on the very day she was supposed to fly to their town to give birth near them, she went into labor. Also, the hospital where she gave birth wouldn’t connect them to her room, and although they texted with two of Danette’s friends, they never met them in person.
you know about her?” Dr. Phil asks.
Monica says she stayed with Danette for a week to get to know her. “She was nice. She’s easy to get along with. She seems like she loves her kids. She’s having a hard time financially, but she seemed like a genuine person to me,” she says.
The Whole Truth
Where are the twins? Danette joins the conversation to explain.
Dr. Phil asks her, “Danette, let’s just talk turkey. Is she ever going to touch those babies?”
Danette makes a confession.
“Ultimately, this story hits a wall, right?” Dr. Phil asks Danette. “Ultimately, you have no baby to produce. So, what was your plan then? What would happen when you told your friend, ‘No baby’?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t think of that,” Danette says.
“Hang on. I’m not going to yell at you, but these people are entitled to answers,” Dr. Phil tells her. “I don’t accept what you said: ‘I didn’t think of that.’ This wasn’t a bad moment. This wasn’t a bad day. This wasn’t a bad impulse. You did this day after day, week after week, month after month, phone, texts, pictures. It’s not like you were desperate one day and made a bad decision; you perpetrated a long-term fraud, devastating these people mentally, emotionally, physically and financially. This took a lot of work and a lot of time. You had to think about it somewhere along the line.”
“I tried to stop it. I just should’ve been honest, and I wasn’t,” she says. Danette explains that she tried to scare Monica off with all the negative news — the babies were products of rape, the rapist father might have parental rights, one of the babies might have autism, the other one may have health problems.
“You were trying to get her to quit,” Dr. Phil surmises.
“Why not just tell me the truth, and then I quit, and I don’t put my heart, and my soul and everything into it?” Monica asks tearfully.
Max says he’s not buying her claim that she tried to end the lies. “There’s no way. You spent two hours, three hours a night, taking up every single day since you started this with her, every single day, on the phone, texting — I never even had my wife for the past six, seven months, and you’re telling me you tried? You’re out of your mind,” he tells her.
“Why did you add the second baby?” Dr. Phil asks Danette.
“Because she said she couldn’t afford more than one kid,” Danette explains.
“That is probably the meanest thing someone could do to someone,” Monica says.
Why is Danette angry with Monica and Max? And, the couple reacts.
“I’m not some crazy person. I made a mistake,” Danette says. “I didn’t intend for it to go this far. I didn’t sit there and make some crazy master plan to ruin somebody’s life. That wasn’t what it was at all. When it got that way, I didn’t have the guts to come out and say it straight out, so I thought I would run her off, and that didn’t work.”
“But you wanted a friend. Why would you run me off?” Monica asks.
“You didn’t have a crazy plan? Every day you planned,” Max argues.
Danette sent Monica pictures of her twins. Where did they come from? And, Dr. Phil uncovers a possible motive for Danette’s actions.
Danette apologizes to the couple she has hurt. And, Dr. Phil extends an offer of help.
Dr. Phil has a surprise for Monica and Max.