Local couple scammed by now convicted adoption fraudster shares story
A Portage couple is choosing to forgive, after a now convicted adoption fraudster was sentenced to ten years behind bars.
36-year-old Tara Lee of Michigan scammed dozens of couples from across the country seeking to adopt children. According to the
,in some cases the birth mother did not even exist.
Jamie and David Poley of Portage, were one of those couples. They said they felt called to adopt after they did not get pregnant and were ultimately referred to Lee’s adoption agency, the Always Hope Pregnancy Center.
“We just started praying about it and going where God was leading,” Poley said.
Poley said they connected with Lee in the fall of 2017. Within days of their first encounter, Lee matched them with a birth mother.
“We ended up friending each other on Facebook so she could show the mom all of our photos, and I had a couple links of some testimonies I’ve given of my faith journey,” Poley said.
She said she sent Lee $15,000. After a few months, Lee informed them the birth mother had a miscarriage. Poley said later that spring, there was another birth mom.
“So we were up to $23,000,” she said.
The couple drove to Florida in Sept. of 2018 to pick up the baby from the hospital. Poley said they came to find out the hospital had no record of the mother or the baby and that Lee had in fact stolen the identity of a previous birth mother.
“So many of the birth mothers in these cases are victims, just as much if not even more so than the adoptive parents,” Poley said.
A few months after the second failed adoption, Poley said they learned FBI agents raided Lee’s home.
“Who checks in to verify on this? And she is coordinating adoptions across the country from Alaska to South Carolina,” she said.
Even after all the pain and hardship, Poley said they choose to forgive and have now become foster parents.
“Being a believer, you know we have the strength of Christ with us all the time in us to help us through these situations,” she said.
The indictment identified 17 couples cheated by Lee, according to the Associated Press. However, Poley said there were countless others just like them who showed up to the sentencing just to give a victim impact statement.