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California Couple Discusses Internet Adoption Feud Over Twin Baby Girls

Aired January 17, 2001 - 1:47 p.m. ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: An anguished and unusual custody dispute is under way on two continents. Two couples, one in California and one in Great Britain, say they were planning to adopt the same 6-month-old twin girls through an Internet adoption site. The California family says it had paid for the adoption, then the babies were abruptly given to a family from Wales. Now both couples want the little girls.


ALAN KILSHAW, ADOPTIVE PARENT: ... not bought the children.

JUDITH KILSHAW, ADOPTIVE PARENT: I don't believe either of us have bought the children, them nor us.

KILSHAW: At the end of the day, we knew they had tried to go through an adoption which was not possible because the birth mother had changed her mind within the prescribed period. And as part -- we had sympathy for them, but obviously we couldn't alter that because that was a fact outside our control.


PHILLIPS: The case has British Prime Minister Tony Blair condemning the practice of selling babies on the Internet, and the FBI is investigating.

Now let's hear from the American parents. Our Charles Feldman in Los Angeles is with them and brings us more.

Hi, Charles.

CHARLES FELDMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, how are you? And we are here with Richard and Vickie Allen. Thank you very much for joining us. And let me share some news with you and our audience at the same time. CNN has now learned that the FBI in Salt Lake City, Utah is going to be taking the lead in this investigation. This according to the FBI office here in Los Angeles. Apparently the FBI has now identified what it calls "multiple victims" of this particular Web site, the Web site being A Caring Heart Association. That's the Web site involved very heavily in this story.

It is not clear now whether or not the same set of children are involved, but apparently multiple sets of parents have paid money to this Web site and did not get the children they were promised. And that is why, we are told, the Salt Lake City, Utah FBI is now the lead in this expanding investigation.

Mr. and Mrs. Allen, tell us why you felt a need to go to a Web site to begin with in order to adopt a child.

RICHARD ALLEN, ADOPTIVE PARENT: My wife did the looking on the Net, but I can understand why she would. It would seem like it was the natural thing to do in today's world of technology. You have a wide opportunity for checking large areas and large groups of people. And the idea is to, you know, to match needy children with caring, you know, adoptive parents. I saw no problem with doing it, but my wife did the checking?

FELDMAN: And you had no concern about not -- you never thought, gee, maybe we should go through a more mainstream, conventional adoption process instead of something as untried and untested as a Web page?

VICKIE ALLEN, ADOPTIVE PARENT: I did not think that people would play with children's lives.

FELDMAN: Right, so you get this arrangement. And you tell us what happened. How did you end up meeting the twins? And then what happened?

R. ALLEN: My wife contacted the facilitator. She was down in San Diego, asked us to send a letter to be read by the birth mother and compare that to other prospective adoptive parents. And the adoptive -- I mean, the birth mother would then choose one of them. And we were happy to hear after a short time, a couple of days, I guess, that we were chosen. We were told that there was a fee, a rather substantial fee.

FELDMAN: How much?

R. ALLEN: We were asked to pay $8,500.

FELDMAN: Eighty-five hundred dollars? In cash?

R. ALLEN: Well, deposited to an account, which is cash enough to me. You know...

FELDMAN: You pay the money...

R. ALLEN: We paid -- we came up with $6,000 because they wanted it immediately and promised to pay a balance later on. We're told that the facilitator was going to arrange for the birth mother to come to California and we would do the adoption here.

FELDMAN: Right. You obviously ended up, at some point, with the children.

R. ALLEN: Right, the children were flown here with the birth mother at our expense. And... FELDMAN: And they stayed with you for how long?

R. ALLEN: Ten, 11 days.

FELDMAN: Eleven days. And then after 11 days, the birth mother shows up again?

V. ALLEN: No, no. She stayed with us.

R. ALLEN: No, the birth mother stayed with us for that period of time.

FELDMAN: Stayed the entire time, OK.

R. ALLEN: What was happening during that period of time was there was some confusion initially about how we were going to proceed with the adoption. We were approached with the ideas of claiming residency here for the birth mother to facilitate a California adoption, which I declined to become involved with, which meant that we had to do it the correct way. And that being the case and the children having residency in birth in Arkansas -- excuse me, in Missouri...

FELDMAN: Well, let me -- since we only, unfortunately, have about a minute left, let me rush this along. At some point, the birth mother, as I understand it, said that she wanted more time with the children, is that right?

V. ALLEN: She wanted to have closure. She wanted to come and bring...

FELDMAN: Wanted closure.

V. ALLEN: ... her three other children and have closure.

FELDMAN: And so the child...

R. ALLEN: She stayed 11 days -- I'll get it real quick. She stayed 11 days here, went back to Missouri, OK, left the children with us. We were instituting proceedings and the proper authorities with Missouri, California, so forth. And after almost two months, she called and said that she wanted to come and visit with the children one last time, have closure.

FELDMAN: And the children now, of course, are not with you...

R. ALLEN: Right.

FELDMAN: ... but they're in North Wales.

R. ALLEN: She never brought them back. She never brought them back.

FELDMAN: Never brought them back.

R. ALLEN: Nor did she stop the proceeding in California, you know, that we were instituting.

FELDMAN: OK, Richard and Vickie Allen, it was short, but thank you very much for joining us.

And, again, the hard news out of all this now is that this is becoming a much more expansive and extensive probe, CNN learning this morning that the FBI in Salt Lake City, Utah is going to be taking the lead in this investigation. And there may be many, many more parents out there in Utah and perhaps elsewhere in the United States who have had the same experience as Richard and Vickie Allen -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Charles Feldman, thank you.



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