The super rich society girl turned to a shady agency through desperation, after struggling to adopt a sibling for her 4-year-old daughter through legitimate means.
When she discovered what she was doing was illegal Taylor Stein, the former lover of Estee Lauder boss William Lauder, blew the lid off the scam – leading the FBI to the crooks making a fortune from black market babies.
The agency was charging premium fees for ‘white’, ‘well-bred’ ‘American ‘babies, that were actually created by sperm and egg donors in the Ukraine and carried by impoverished American surrogates.
“I was trying to adopt a child in need . . . and it became very, very complicated,” and then an agency popped up.
She handed over an eye-watering $180,000 to Baby Dreams in return for an unwanted surrogate baby.
“My girlfriend had an attorney . . . [who] told me she had a baby who was originally meant to be adopted by another couple. They had employed a surrogate, and the couple just walked away, and would you like the baby?”
“I decided this kid was in need . . . so I went through with it.”
But in September 2009 she was told the surrogate had run away.
It later turned out she had gone to the authorities to tip them off about the agency.
Taylor was promised another unwanted surrogate baby, and went ahead with the adoption process. Two weeks before she was due to pick up her baby, the FBI came calling.
“I got a phone call from the FBI. They were waiting for me outside my house. I was petrified,” she says.
“They told me, ‘We believe you have been the victim of an international fraud’ . . . and they told me they needed my help.”
“I was the ideal person . . . because my baby had not yet been delivered, so I wasn’t one of those parents who was petrified of losing their child.”
“They asked me to make some phone calls, be wired, get information, get as many confessions as possible and bully them into telling the truth, which I did.”
Taylor got enough information to help the FBI pinpoint and pounce on the ringleaders, Hillary Neiman, 32, Theresa Erickson, 43, a prominent surrogacy attorney, and Carla Chambers, 51, a former surrogate.
It turned out the trio were bullying cash-strapped women to become surrogates and flying them to the Ukraine to be implanted with fertilized eggs by anonymous donors – sidestepping strict US laws.
The babies were then born in California, where they weren’t required to put the name of the biological parent on birth certificates.
They had brokered at least twelve ‘adoptions’ by the time they were caught.
Neiman, Erickson and Chambers have pleaded guilty to wire-fraud charges and face sentencing in October.
Taylor meanwhile, ended up adopting the baby she was promised, after contacting the surrogate and ensuring they went through the proper and legal adoption process.
“My son was born in March 2011. His name is Ren Friedrick. He is 5 months old,” she tells the Post.
She now plans to travel to the Ukraine to find Ren’s biological parents, and make a documentary about her quest: “My son has no information about the identity of his real parents, and I think that is a birth right.”
Let’s hope she finds the truth Ren deserves!
— Ian Garland
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