It’s not the happy ending the Trayte family wanted.
In December 2018, California-based couple Matt and Laura Trayte posted a heartbreaking story on Facebook, claiming the woman who agreed to be the birth mother during their adoption journey faked her pregnancy.
“We’ve been trying to complete our family for the past 10 years,” Laura Trayte told Global News. “Family is everything to us and in our minds there is nothing more worth fighting for… and fight we have.”
After six rounds of expensive infertility treatments, the couple decided to focus on adoption. “We had exhausted all our finances and borrowed from family members and just couldn’t afford the large agency fees.”
Trayte, 41, created a website, “A Sibling For Hudson (her son)” in an attempt to reach birth moms. One woman who reached out to her was Elizabeth Jones of Virginia.
Matt and Laura Trayte. Photo provided by Laura Trayte.
“She seemed like an answer to our prayers,” Trayte explained. “We seemed to hit it off right from the very start and when she told us she wanted us to be the parents for her daughter we cried tears of joy. After everything we have been through, it felt like it was meant to be.”
She told the couple she was five months pregnant.
The two parties never exchanged information about payment, but proceeded with the rest of the steps for adoption. Before even meeting Jones, Trayte was sent a photo of an ultrasound — the child she thought she would one day call her own one day.
An ultrasound photo that was sent to the Trayte family. Photos provided by Laura Trayte.
The couple hunted for a lawyer and Jones asked Trayte to come to a doctor’s appointment in Virginia. Jones even wanted to do a phoot shoot.
“She seemed invested and determined to let us adopt her child. I went at the beginning of November and we did all of these things except meet her doctor,” she continued.
“She was too distraught to let me in the room… normal for a birth mom who was about to put her baby up for adoption.”
The two took photos together, announcing their adoption to the world.
Laura Trayte (L) and Elizabeth Jones (R) during their photo shoot. Photo provided by Laura Trayte.
The couple was excited. Trayte said her and her husband set up a room for the baby and went shopping for a “going home” outfit for the baby to wear on her first day. Everything seemed set, but the Trayte’s had no idea Jones was never pregnant during their interaction.
The room that was set up for baby Noella. Photo provided by Laura Trayte.
At 33 weeks, Trayte said Jones began to feel contractions, back pain and nausea, she had asked the family to fly to Virginia to see her.
“She told me that her doctor said the baby was healthy enough to be born and said she would induce labour,” she said. “During the week of Thanksgiving we changed our flights twice to get out to her sooner. This time it wasn’t just me. My husband missed work, my six-year-old son missed school, so that we could all be there for the birth of our daughter.”
Their daughter was supposed to be born on Nov. 29, 2018. In a series of text messages before her due date (Global News has confirmed the texts), Jones claimed she was going through labour in her jeep. Not physically there, Trayte coached her through text.
The first time Laura met Elizabeth. Photo provided by Laura Trayte.
“We rushed to the hospital to meet her,” she said. “I had toured the hospital with her previously and the nurses recognized me. We stood in labour and delivery right near the NICU with nurses and an incubator waiting on a baby that would never come.”
Jones was at the hospital that day, but she checked herself in for lower back pain. Trayte alleges she even told the nurses she was never pregnant.
“We were broken, we were wrecked, we were in complete shock,” she said. “The past few months have been a roller coaster ride. They went from joyful and exciting to heart and soul breaking.”
The birth mother speaks out
Speaking with News Five WCYB on Tuesday, Jones said she wasn’t sure why she made up the pregnancy.
“I mean I go to therapy, but we’re still trying to figure that out,” she told the NBC affiliate. “I mean, I don’t know if I just needed someone to talk to or… I don’t know.”
She also told the broadcaster the Trayte family should have been able to figure out she was fooling them.
“I mean if I had red flags I would check them out before I hopped on a plane and met somebody,” Jones continued. “What I did… I never should have done it, but I’m not a horrible person… people make mistakes all the time.“
After the encounter at the hospital, Jones told the couple she had a miscarriage weeks before. Not knowing how to proceed at first, the couple blocked Jones and went to a local sheriff’s department to press charges.
“We want Elizabeth Jones to be held accountable for the fraud she committed against our family. We believe that the extent to which she took this lie and the details she used along the way show that she is capable of hurting others and we do not want her to hurt anyone else,” she said.
The case is currently in the hands of police.
Adoption in Canada
In the U.S., adoption varies state by state and in Canada it differs depending on which province or territory you live in, said Cathy Murphy, executive director at the Adoption Council of Canada. But adoption in this country is tightly regulated.
She told Global News in her 30 years of working in the adoption industry in Canada, she has never heard of a similar case here. “It is tragic for everyone involved.”
Families looking to adopt go through a home study, police check and get their finances checked to protect the incoming child. Both parties are also often protected by lawyers, a licensed agency and a social worker, she added. In Canada, people can choose private domestic, public or international adoptions.
“When the woman is pregnant, gets reports from the hospital or OB talking about how things are going and how far along the mother is.”
Often, ultrasound photos are sent as well as a medical history of the birth mother and her family.
Murphy added even if a couple went out on social media to find their own means of adoption, legally they would still have to go through the appropriate legal channels. “By law in Canada every birth parent is showed a minimum of three perspective family files.”
A legal adoption process means custody of the child is in the rights of the adoptive parents, and things like a birth certificate or registering for school can all be done through the adoptive family. Without this, Murphy said you are just “parenting” someone else’s child.
Matt and Laura Trayte. Photo provided by Laura Trayte.
For the Trayte’s, this emotional experience has been a nightmare, but also a tipping point to help others.
“When people turn to adoption they are vulnerable and hurting and want nothing more than to share their love and home with a child,” Trayte said. “They are ready to do whatever it takes to make their dreams come true. If we can help others to avoid the pain and trauma we have been through It will help to make this all worthwhile.”
Global News has reached out to Jones and at press time has not received a response.
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