HOUSTON – A Houston woman is in jail and is due in court this week after authorities said she faked her pregnancy to scam a local couple and their adoption agency out of $11,000.
It's not the first time a would-be birth mother involved with the agency has been charged in such a scheme.
Who's involved in the case?
A Houston-area man, who asked only to be identified by his first name, Tim, and his wife had yearned for a child to call their own. In the summer of 2016, west Houston adoption agency Caring Adoptions matched the couple with Amanda Aguilar who was supposedly expecting a baby girl.
"We had a name picked out. We had a baby shower and everything. We were more than ready," Tim said.
Tim said Aguilar began sending threatening text messages such as, "No money, no baby, I'll leave this kid in the hospital."
The couple gave Caring Adoptions $11,000 to give to Aguilar for her needs for the remainder of her pregnancy.
When her October due date came, Tim said Aguilar started making excuses as to why they couldn't come to the hospital to see the child. He said Aguilar then sent them a picture of a newborn baby that they later found out belonged to one of Aguilar's friends.
When Caring Adoptions owner Stephanie Warren called the social worker at Memorial Hermann where Aguilar had reportedly given birth, she was told there was no one there by that name with a baby.
It turns out, Aguilar was never pregnant. She is actually unable to get pregnant at all. A Houston Police Department investigation of her medical records found she underwent a total hysterectomy after giving birth to her fourth child in 2015.
"That was possibly one of the most devastating days of my entire life, of our lives," Tim said. "Because here is this baby we had already welcomed into our lives and it turned out it never actually existed. It was this big lie. We felt preyed upon and exploited."
Aguilar's arrest and charges
Aguilar was arrested in Williamson County and extradited to Harris County.
After she was released on a personal recognizance bond, which requires a promise to show up in court, she never did.
She was arrested again in July 2019 and was charged with a state jail felony of aggregate theft and a third-degree felony of bail jumping.
"It's not OK to use deception to steal people's money," said Assistant District Attorney Valerie Turner, chief of the Harris County District Attorney's Office consumer fraud section.
Aguilar is due in court on Thursday.
Caring Adoptions' history
The agency was in the news last year after another would-be birth mother, Jessica Felder, pulled a similar scam. Felder came to Caring Adoptions claiming she was pregnant with twin boys and was matched with a family. Felder miscarried but did not tell the agency or the couple. She got away with $15,000. Last week, Felder was sentenced to two years in state prison for theft.
Warren said both women provided a proof of pregnancy document signed by a doctor. The paperwork is all the agency requires. Warren said she does not and will not ask prospective birth mothers to take a pregnancy test in her office.
"Girls can go to any agency and they don't have to work with us, so we want to respect them and treat them as human beings and adults and believe that when we're asking them for something, that it's the truth," Warren said.
Tim believes would-be adoptive parents and their adoption agencies need to make sure to do their due diligence.
"I think it's OK to follow your gut instincts and suspicions. If someone does not want to provide you with proof of pregnancy after they've been matched, what's going on with that?" he said.