Adoption Scams, Part 1: Tracking Melissa

Tracking the Deceiver

Crissy says, "Just like Jen and Marie, I shared the same dream. We all desperately wanted to have a baby, and we all got taken advantage of." Crissy says she gave Melissa over $2,000 during the course of their relationship. She sent her two air conditioners and over $1,000 in cash, paid her cell phone bill and bought her long-distance calling cards.

During the 29th week of the alleged pregnancy, Crissy was scheduled to fly to Wisconsin for the baby's second ultrasound. The day before, Melissa called and told her that the baby had died. "I was completely devastated," says Crissy. "It was like the bottom falling out of your whole world."

A week or so later, Melissa contacted Crissy online by instant messenger and told her she had sent the baby's ashes and a copy of the death certificate, which Crissy never received. "She not only just stabs you in the heart," says Crissy, "she twists it. I just kind of shut down.

"The baby's due date had been December 6, so December 6 of the following year came around, and I was a little emotional, and I e-mailed Melissa. I asked her, 'Was the baby ever real?' and she said no. She said that she felt like it was time to tell the truth. She'd been through rehab. She was clean, and she was sober. So I asked her everything I could think of," says Crissy. "She felt like she could be important to somebody."

"I hope that I'm ready to move on," Crissy continues. "I want to adopt, and I let her rob me of four years of time. I let her break me, and that's one of my biggest regrets."

The three women meet for the first time shortly before their scheduled confrontation with Melissa. They exchange warm hugs and also condolences.

"I am so sorry this happened to you," Crissy tells Marie as they embrace.

Before they set out to confront Melissa, Dr. Phil wants to make sure that they are fully prepared for any outcome. They all sit down for a conference call.

"It is absolutely, outrageously terrible, what this woman has done to the three of you," says Dr. Phil. "The plan is that you're going to have an opportunity, we hope, to confront her tonight. Tell me what you want to accomplish."

"I just want to see her," says Marie, "ask her why, ask her how."

"I don't think this is going to fix this, but I do think that it will help for you to at least get this woman in front of you, make eye contact, and let her know what this stupid, ridiculous, exploitive game has done to you, and your life and your family."

"That's exactly what I want to do," says Marie.

"I want to prepare you in advance," Dr. Phil continues. "Don't go in there with any expectations about what you're going to get out of her. The satisfaction that you're going to gain is going to come from what you do. It's not going to come from what she does. So don't be disappointed if you don't get a lot back from her."

With the help of private investigator Harold Copus, Marie, Jen and Crissy set out to confront Melissa.

As they drive, Harold says, "There's her house, and her Jeep Cherokee's in there. She's there."

"My heart is pounding, and my anger's building. I'm ready to do this," says Marie.

"I never dreamed that I would actually meet her," Crissy says from the back of the car. "This is a long time coming for me."

"We don't know what we're going into, so we have to be ready," says Harold. He instructs the women, "From a safety standpoint, if something bad happens you quickly get back behind this van. Don't get in the van; get behind it."

At the house, Marie knocks on a window. "Come out, Melissa!" she shouts. "You wanted to see me. Come out! It's Marie, Melissa! Come out here and look into my eyes!"

"Melissa, this is Crissy. I want to talk to you."

"Where are you, Melissa?," asks Jen, knocking on the window. "Remember me? Three years! Three years ago! Three! She knows who I am. Melissa knows!"

Harold observes, "There's a man in the kitchen, who's got a rifle."

"We're leaving!" a cameraman shouts. "We're getting off the property."

"Don't shoot that gun!" calls Harold into the house.

With the cameraman leading the way, the group scrambles off the property.

Looking back on the experience, Jen says, "I think that all of us will feel better for having been here."

Crissy adds, "I feel like I faced something that I've been hiding from for almost four years now."

Marie is less upbeat. "I didn't get enough," she says. "I want more."

Dr. Phil sits down with Jen, Marie and Crissy in his studio. "How do you feel about this process so far? Is it helping to be doing something to pursue this?" he asks.

"Yeah. It's giving me a little closure," says Marie. Jen agrees.

"It feels like at least we're in power this time," Crissy adds.

"You know," says Dr. Phil, "this woman is in the building right now. She is in the building, and I have not let her see any of this because I didn't think she had the right to see you until you see her." He points out that only four days ago, Marie was supposed to have received her adoptive child.

"At this moment, I should be in a hotel room with my baby girl waiting for ICPC, clearance to leave the state, yeah," Marie says.

Dr. Phil points out that the women were all attempting to carry out their adoptions through the proper channels. Jen elaborates.

"We had all contacted attorneys, agencies; we had all done our research on the laws in different states, and everything that we needed to do to make it above board," she says. 

"Here's where we are at this point," says Dr. Phil. "I told you guys on the phone we weren't going to quit; we were just going to keep going until you were able to get some closure on this. I don't want you to stop. I don't want you to stop in your quest to have a family and a baby. I want y'all to have exactly what you want and you just can't give your power over to her. We wanted you to have a chance to get some closure."