ROGERS (KFSM) -- A Springdale woman is accused of stealing money from a North Dakota couple who thought they were adopting her baby, according to Rogers police.
Roxane and Timothy Cartwright told police they had been trying to adopt a baby from our area for about five years, according to a probable cause affidavit. The affidavit states that Roxane said they were matched with an expectant mother named Angela Emos. Roxane told police that since they lived in North Dakota, the couple hired a Rogers area attorney to help with the adoption process.
Roxane and Timothy made an agreement to put $30,000 in an account to cover the lawyer's expenses and other expenses in the adoption process, according to the affidavit. Roxane told police that the account was set up where the lawyer could pull out $1,400 every month and give it to Emos for monthly support while she was going through her pregnancy. Roxane said that Emos would take money at the beginning of the month and a couple of days later she would call and ask for more, the affidavit states.
When Roxane told Emos she wouldn't give her more money from the account except for the normal draw at the beginning of the month, the affidavit states that Roxane said Emos would say things like "do you want your baby to starve?" The affidavit states that Roxane told police she had a friend pick Emos up and take her grocery shopping and rent her a motel for the night because Emos told her they were starving and living in her car. Emos asked Roxane to fly her family to Arkansas and when Roxane denied she quit talking to them for a week, according to the affidavit.
In July of 2016, Emos called Roxane and told her she was going to keep her baby and that she was just using them for money, according to the affidavit. Roxane told police that Emos said she would pay them back when she got her tax return. The affidavit states that Roxane she and Timothy had paid around $13,000 to Emos at that point. Roxane also said that Emos had been receiving money from another family at the same time she was receiving money from Roxane and Timothy, according to the affidavit.
Roxane said Emos told her that friends and family found out what she had done to them and began to "shun" her, and she demanded that Roxane and Timothy take the baby, according to the affidavit. Roxane told Emos babies were not for sale and they were not a peace offering. Roxane stated that Emos asked her if she could at least tell friends and family that she did give them the baby or that she paid them back, according to the affidavit. Roxane told her no and that she would be pressing charges. Roxane had been told that Emos no longer had the baby.
The attorney told police that Emos went to California and met with her family, according to the affidavit. Emos told the attorney that she did not want to give the baby up, and that her sister wanted to adopt the baby. The attorney said that the adoption never happened, and the whereabouts of the baby were unknown, the affidavit states. He said that Emos signed paperwork to give the baby up for adoption, but she was entitled by law to change her mind up to 10 days after the baby was born. According to the affidavit, he said he was unaware if there was another family involved that was trying to adopt the baby, but he said Roxane had text messages from Emos where she told Roxane and Timothy she never intended to give the baby for adoption.
The investigators determined that there was reasonable and probable cause for an arrest warrant for Emos. She was arrested on Tuesday (Oct. 31) and is now facing charges of defrauding a prospective adoptive parent.
Fayetteville Adoption Attorney Justin Heimer said fraud cases like this are very rare and most adoptions have a happy ending.
He explained in most cases, the adoptive parents get connected with an adoption agency. They are then paired with a birth mother who is the one that chooses where her baby goes.
From there, Heimer said that is when attorneys get involved.
He said a big sign that a mother may back out of the adoption, whether it is fraud or she simply chooses not to go through with it, is when she cuts off communication.
Something Heimer said is seen quite a lot.
He said the first thing a couple should do is research.
“Google that attorney, that agency," Heimer said. "Look into them, find out what their success rate is, find out how many of their adoptions have failed. That’s the first thing you do.”
He advised to also limit the exposure to how much money that is given to the birth mother and make sure you are only reimbursing pregnancy related expenses.
Those expenses he defined as expenses caused by the pregnancy.
“Fraud almost never happens with reputable agencies and it almost never happens when you have great social workers involved," Heimer said.