Taylor Stein wanted sibling for love-child father by billionaire cosmetics titan William Lauder
Former Manhattan society girl Taylor Stein bought a black-market baby for $180,000 — then helped the FBI bring down the kiddie-peddling ring that sold him to her.
Taylor Stein, daughter of rock music promoter Howard Stein, unwittingly became embroiled in the sensational case involving three female fiends who used cash-strapped surrogates and sperm and egg donors from Ukraine to prey on the rich and desperate, charging at least $100,000 per baby.
Being a mother isn’t easy. But what Taylor Stein endured to bring home her son, 5-month-old Ren Friedrick, was truly extraordinary.
Single-mother Stein, who now lives in Los Angeles, decided to adopt a brother for Djuna, her four-year-old daughter with Estée Lauder billionaire William Lauder, in 2009.
A friend introduced her to attorney Hilary Neiman in 2009.
The agency was run by two surrogacy lawyers and another woman who acted as a surrogate herself and boasted about carrying half-a dozen children for the business.
The agency — which recruited surrogates and wealthy parent wannabes over the Internet, peppering them with e-mails dubbed “Baby Dreams” and promises of designer kiddies
Within two weeks Stein was contacted by Neiman who told her a baby was now available as the intended parents of a Canadian child had backed out of the deal.
Although she thought it was ‘weird’ that she was not allowed to contact the surrogate, despite prospective parents usually encouraged to cultivate a relationship, she started wiring payments to the agency.
She received profiles of the supposed surrogate parents, The donors even looked ideal — “two Texan kids, these blond, blue-eyed, perfect kids” — with their dates of birth and families’ medical histories – now known to be all fake. In fact, the whole thing was a massive international wire-fraud scam.
The ring worked by recruiting surrogates in the US, promising them payments of up to $43,000 and then taking them to the Ukraine where they were implanted with fertilized eggs from anonymous donors.
One recruit was a grocery-store cashier from Missouri with five kids, said the LA Times. Another was a mortgage underwriter from Texas.
Once the surrogates reached their second trimesters, the ringleaders shopped the baby around to wealthy, desperate couples in the US. The pregnant mothers were then taken to California to give birth because it is one of the few states that lets the name of a non-biological parent to be put onto the birth certificate easily.
There were “at least 12 different couples or sets of intended parents and the price for the babies ranged from ($100,000) to $150,000,” said assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Merriman.
The scam, which saw at least 12 babies sold, worked for six years.
Two weeks before Stein‘s surrogate was due to give birth she was contacted by the FBI who told her the agency was operating illegally and asked her to go undercover.
“They asked me to make some phone calls, be wired, get information, get as many confessions as possible and bully them into telling the truth, which I did,” Stein told the NY Post.
The three woman behind the syndicate — Hilary Neiman, 32, Theresa Erickson (a prominent surrogacy attorney), 43, and Carla Chambers, 51 — have all pleaded guilty to wire-fraud charges and will be sentenced in October.
Stein managed to contact her surrogate and bring her to live with her in Los Angeles where she “paid her health bills and took care of her”.
Once the trio had been caught, Stein made sure the surrogate mother was paid $26,000 and Neiman paid her back the remaining $154,000.
Stein has now formally adopted five-month-old Ren Friedrick, who was born in March 2011.
Stein is now working on a documentary called ‘White Collar, Black Market – the Surrogacy Loophole‘ about the transparency of donors.
She said: ‘My son has no information about the identity of his real parents, and I think that is a birth right.
‘I want to go to the Ukraine to track down my son’s donors so that he has some idea of his DNA, and change some laws in DC so that all adopted children have the right to find out the identity of their true parents.
‘I want to make a change so my son doesn’t feel the victim out of this. He’s a game changer. Hopefully, after his story, everything will be different.’