BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - A Florida woman who initially agreed to give her baby up for adoption has been arrested and accused of defrauding a potential adoptive family out of nearly $15,000, and of lying to the adoption agency.
Under Florida law, a mom cannot consent to her child being put up for adoption until 48 hours after the baby is born or until she is discharged from the hospital. In a simple sense, it means a mother has a right to change her mind after initially agreeing to the adoption.
The Federal Department of Law Enforcement said April Storm Norris, 33, of Cocoa Beach, Florida, was arrested Sunday and booked into Brevard County jail on one count of grand theft. She was already in jail on unrelated charges, officials said.
Norris worked with an adoption agency to put her then-unborn child up for adoption and chose a couple to adopt her child, authorities said. She was provided more than $11,000 from the agency to pay for rent, phone bills, and car repairs.
The FDLE said that shortly before the baby was born, Norris stopped communicating with the agency and the adoptive family, switched her doctor and hospital, and allegedly "told hospital staff not to tell the agency or adoptive parents that the baby had been born," according to a news release.
"It was just a shock, that something like this could be real. That somebody could use their unborn child to deceive," the adoptive parents told FOX 35 in an interview. FOX 35 agreed not to show their face or names.
It was during this time that Norris allegedly continued to receive money from the agency and adoptive parents. The agency reported that the total loss was nearly $15,000.
"Where the adoption agency comes in is when the birth mom misrepresents her situation, accepts funds but never has the intention of placing her kid up for adoption," said Ellen Kaplan, of Ellen Kaplan Adoptions, who was the agency that worked with Norris.
She said at the end of the day, the child is the true victim.
"That child will someday know what happened and the trauma that has ensued due to their mother’s choices," she said.
Common questions about adoption in Florida
For information and questions about adoption and the adoption process in Florida, visit adoptflorida.org, a website run by the Florida Department of Children and Families. View Florida children up for adoption.
Who can adopt?
To be eligible to adopt one of Florida's children, you may be married or single, already a parent or never a parent, in your 60s or in your 20s, an apartment renter or a homeowner, a person of modest means or wealth. The fact is that there is no one description of people who can be prospective adoptive parents. If you have the ability to love a child, to provide the basics for a child and to make a lifelong commitment, you can be an adoptive parent. A few things will prevent you from becoming an adoptive parent, such as certain felony criminal records.
How long is the adoption process?
This varies from case to case, but the background checks, adoptive parent training and home study can usually be completed in less than nine months.
What does adoption cost?
When you adopt a child from a community based care agency you will not be charged an adoption fee or fees related to pre-adoptive training, home studies or placement. There may be expenses related to attorney fees and court costs but these may be reimbursed by the state. Other one-time-only expenses that may be reimbursed are birth certificate fees and travel expenses for visiting the child.
Can the biological parents take the child back?
Florida's children are not made available for adoption until a court has already terminated the parental rights of their birth parents. This form of adoption is very secure.
If you suspect someone is being abused, neglected, exploitation or other harmful instances, contact the Florida Department of Children and Families abuse hotline at 1-800-962-2873 or visit www.myflfamilies.com.