One of the most painful and profound moments of my life happened two years ago. I found out suddenly that my younger sister had a baby none of us knew about. As if this wasn’t painful enough, I was also informed that our neighbor and trusted family friend of more than 10 years had arranged and profited from the adoption of my niece. I immediately drove to my parent’s house three hours away. I looked out of the window the whole way, sick, and silently having severe anxiety.
A few minutes after we arrived, my mother, sister and I went into the guests’ bedroom and sat on the day bed. Before we could even speak, six arms went in all directions as we didn’t have time to think. We all began crying, but in a way that is almost indescribable. As my sister hugged my mother’s front, I collapsed onto her back, my body feeling drained and weak.
I closed my eyes and rocked back and forth with the two of them, not knowing if it was my own hurt or feeling theirs that was making it hard for me to breathe. For the first time in my life, I cried from the depths of my soul. I never physically hurt so badly. I had only seen my mom cry a few restrained tears in my whole life, and feeling her shaking, and hearing the hurt and desperation in her voice as she wept and pleaded with God, and asked him why and how, broke my heart.
I felt the room spinning as a million thoughts ran through my mind. It was like my life was flashing before my eyes, my past, and my future that was now tragically altered. I cried harder and harder as I thought of all the things that were taken from me. I would never be called auntie, never be able to paint her toes, watch her sleep, snuggle her face, or hold her close in my arms. I thought of never being able to take her to the zoo, the library, the park. It was like I saw her instantly growing up in my mind, and the more I realized all that I would miss, the more it hurt.
The mood was surreal. I felt my heart pounding, my muscles tightening. It was two days before Thanksgiving, just a day before our family was planning dinner and now extreme circumstances were put upon us. I heard my sister crying out she didn’t know how to tell us she was having a baby, she was so scared, she just kept repeating those few statements over and over.
I was so overcome from emotions, my body felt like it was burning. All I could think was that it was a nightmare, no way could this be happening. I had never even heard of a story anything like this, and here it was, adoption and it’s destruction right before our very eyes. I couldn’t help but pray that God would take me away at that moment because the thought of the future and all that was to come was just too much.
For a brief moment I opened my eyes and saw my father. He could hardly see us through the doorway, a look on his face I had never seen before. I saw a fire rising up inside of him. I saw that he was barely able to stand. He turned around and a moment later I heard the front door open and close softly. I heard his truck and him driving away. I knew in my heart why he left. The sight of the three women in his life clinging to each other with everything they had was more than he could handle.
With one look I felt his pain, as he was a father, husband, and head of the family and there was nothing he could do. He couldn’t understand it, deal with it, or take it away. I have never seen the same look on his face before or since.
Until that day in that back bedroom with my mom and sister, I hadn’t ever contemplated a situation as painful as this. Our world had changed in an instant. My vision was different after I cleaned my face and wiped the still flowing tears from my puffy eyes.
I walked out of that room, wiser. Wiser of the world, it’s ways, and the people in it. We were all betrayed by someone we all trusted. I babysat this woman’s kids, and she gave away one of ours. The more we found out, the more we realized that this was set up not by my sister, but by our neighbor, her lawyer friend, and a very deceptive social worker. We knew to prepare for a long, painful, and exhausting battle.
I walked outside and hugged my kids. I held onto them so tight, so bitter and angry that a woman with an agenda robbed my sister of the fruit of her womb and the God-given right to her child. I never realized or completely understood what family meant until that day. How important it is to love each other everyday as if it were our last, and stick together for day-to-day life. I thought of how we’d ever be able to make it without our baby, a part of us being raised by strangers. Would she want to know us, could we get her back? Why did all this happen? Was there something I could have done? I felt my body again begin to shake.
That day my life forever changed. That day I began to slow down. I prayed a little longer, wished a little harder, and decided to become the person I always wanted to be. It hurts me to think of all the pain and heartache my sister felt and will always feel. The baby sister I tried to protect, not knowing that all these years we were looking at the enemy every time we opened the front door.
The baby sister that was terrified to tell us of her pregnancy, that was basically thrown out by our neighbor after her baby was gone, and had to live in her car for a week, not knowing where to turn. Alone, afraid, cold, having just given birth, no counseling whatsoever.
All of this having taken place in 28 days as she had hidden and denied her pregnancy until her eighth month. She was under extreme duress, barely eighteen years old, having just been taken advantage of by a bunch of vultures after her baby.
My sister had always looked up to me, she watched everything I did. I never would’ve thought she would be the one to have shown me everything I ever needed to know about life. The one that would be the one to open my eyes. She has been my inspiration, my baby sister with her loving, trusting, naïve heart. Her innocence stolen.
I want everyone to know how our hearts broke that day. How much pain we felt, and how much pain we’re still in, being in the midst of the ongoing custody battle. How alone we feel, and how each day is a struggle. I find myself constantly lost in thought, wondering about my niece. Picturing her in my mind, wondering what she’s doing, how big she’s gotten, what she looks like, what it’s like to have and hold her. I meet her in my dreams where I am free to love her and have her, to shower her with all the love that I dreamed of giving her my whole life.
I’ll never give up on demanding an investigation because I know all roads lead to Lupita. Had it not been for her and her ‘ help ‘ , we would have been able to continue on the path of happiness and righteousness.
One day, she will be held accountable and I anxiously await that beautiful day.
( An excerpt from a complaint filed in May, 2012)
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
To whom it may concern:
I would like to file a complaint regarding a Elliot County Courthouse employee.
Our family has written complaints to her former boss Judge Gavin and filed two police reports, all of which have gone unanswered.
In 2004, Lupita Stamos allegedly facilitated the adoption of my niece using her office fax machine and phone at the courthouse, while on the clock to help push this secret adoption forward.
Our case was originally brought in front of Judge Campbell in November 2004, three weeks after my niece was already residing out-of-state with the adoptive couple that Ms. Stamos had chosen. ( She denies having chosen or even knowing the couple.)
Ms. Stamos approached Judge Campbell asking him if there was room to place my sister at his home for unwed mothers, without my sister’s knowledge or consent. Since she had involved him, Judge Campbell had to recuse himself from the case when the adoption was to be finalized ( He did so at the request of the adoptive couple and their attorney once he said he was going to do what was in the best interest of the child, and they felt that particular judge would return her to her rightful family ) and since my niece was already with the adoptive couple, Nevada passed the case off to California where the couple reside.
The adoption agency that handled the case made ALL appointments with Ms. Stamos, without ever having spoken with my sister. Ms. Stamos set up and attended meetings with Adoption Alliance, and also met with her husband and the adoptive couple at a restaurant; most of the meeting my sister was not even present.
Adoption Alliance lost their license to practice less than a year after our case for reasons they are not willing to disclose.
Ms. Stamos made doctor appointments for my sister and attended every meeting with the lawyer which she had chosen, her friend, Molly Winter.
Ms. Stamos being a trusted family friend and neighbor of over 20 years was aware that my mother is a nurse at the local hospitals, and when my sister went into labor, Ms. Stamos drove her over an hour away to a hospital instead of taking her to a hospital that was nearby, putting my sister and her baby at risk.
When they arrived at the hospital, Ms. Stamos introduced herself as my sister’s guardian, thereby making important decisions for my sister’s care. Ms. Stamos called the adoptive couple, and they were there immediately following.
The Adoption Alliance violated their “72 Hour Rule”, meaning the adoptive couple are to have no contact with mother and child for the first 72 hours of life, intended for mother and child to bond.
While my sister was weeping, cradled around her newborn baby, Ms. Stamos actually picked up my niece and placed her in the arms of the adoptive mother. Ms. Stamos kept all the newborn baby items from the hospital , the birth announcement card and lock of hair, and all paperwork.
Ms. Stamos was also flown to a baby shower in southern California as the guest of honor, expenses paid by the adoptive couple. She also received an engraved Tiffany & Co. bracelet from the adoptive couple, engraved to “auntie Lupita.”
Phone records confirmed Ms. Stamos called my sister 34 times in the 28 days this adoption was set up. The final paperwork being the Interstate Compact, which was confidential to my sister as all of the paperwork should have been, being faxed to Ms. Stamos at the courthouse for my sister to sign. After all paperwork was complete, zero phone calls.
Since this adoption was to be kept secret, Ms. Stamos has kept ALL paperwork, even after it was signed meaning the adoption paperwork was NEVER in my sister’s possession. When the adoption paperwork was all taken care of, Ms. Stamos in so many words asked my sister to leave her home, where she then resided in her car for a week not knowing what to do.
My sister was also left more than $25,000 in hospital bills and debt, which were supposed to be paid by the adoptive couple, for which her wages have been garnished. Ms. Stamos was aware that my sister was covered under my parent’s medical insurance, yet she still took her to apply for Medi-Caid, another appointment she was in charge of.
Our family has been torn apart and left with nothing but heartache and unanswered questions, and 7 ½ years later, it isn’t any easier.
Ms. Stamos’ main point is that my sister was 18 and made the decision, but if that were the case it was my sister that should’ve been making all calls and appointments and keeping her own paperwork and making all arrangements.
My niece was adopted by Ms. Stamos’ sister’s friends, yet Adoption alliance stated my sister chose the couple from a stack of profiles, it seems all too convenient.
We literally have a list written in Ms. Stamos’ handwriting for goals for my sister’s life. The adoptive couple are still kept up-to-date on our family’s dealings with Elliot County, all of which stem from this devastating situation; information they would otherwise not have access to, but with Ms. Stamos behind the computer, they somehow magically get.
These are just some of the details of this case, which has now spanned almost 8 years.
If this is the kind of conduct becoming of a county employee, then we are asking the county to:
A: Acknowledge what Ms. Stamos has done, and
B: Stand behind her.
I realize this letter isn’t coming from my sister herself, just like setting up an adoption, she would have no idea where to start, and she is still so emotionally fragile it is difficult to even bring up without sending her into a tailspin.
I am not a fragile, scared, and vulnerable young girl. I am the sister of Samantha, aunt of Nevaeh, and someone who can spot an Adoption-For-Profit when I see one.
I have spent countless hours making phone calls, writing letters and doing research and will continue to do so until our case is brought to light.
I have been involved in every aspect of this case since the moment we found out back in 2004. I am a member of her family that truly has her best interest at heart, and I’m also a person concerned for the rest of the public and hope to protect another family from having to go through such an unimaginable nightmare.
This should have never happened to my sister, simply because she was afraid to tell her family of her pregnancy, which most teenage girls are. She had no counseling, and no one that was in HER corner, she was merely there to sign papers while all these people circled like vultures around her unborn baby.
I respectfully ask that there be a full investigation into the actions of Ms. Stamos and her involvement in this adoption.
This tragedy came upon us in November, 2004.
I have been writing about this adoption to my niece so that one day when I am finally able to see her, the story behind her adoption will have been documented and hopefully she will be able to see the truth from someone who wouldn’t lie to her.
She needs to know that we never forgot about her, that we never stopped fighting for her, and how much this devastated our family.
I think about her so much that sometimes I have to force myself to think about something else. I haven’t gotten a good nights sleep since all this happened. I have nightmares and she’s the first thing on my mind when I wake up.
For many years, I couldn’t even look at her pictures without completely breaking down. Now I look at her pictures to give me the strength to push through the hurt so that I’m able to write. It is crucial to me that my niece knows exactly what happened, from someone who truly loves her and wouldn’t lie to her, someone who didn’t buy her, or someone who left her mother and family in ruins.
The anxiety I feel makes my body feel like it’s burning from the inside out. Even though I have written the details for a book I am planning to publish, I was compelled to start this blog to help me to cope, I feel like I could just jump out of my own skin trying to figure out a way to survive this enormous pain.