ALBUQUERQUE (CN) - An adoption service under state order not to take new clients rolled a family for $37,900 and never delivered a baby, the family claims in court.
Charlesly and Charlotte Joseph sued Utah-based James Webb and The Adoption Center of Choice on Nov. 11 in Bernalillo County Court.
The Josephs say the defendants helped them adopt in November 2012.
In May 2013, three weeks after the adoption was finalized, the Josephs say, they received an unsolicited call from the Adoption Center about the possibility of adopting another child from the same birth mother.
The Josephs say they were unsure about adopting another child so soon, but because the child would be a biological sibling to their adopted child they asked for more information.
Over the next several months, defendants contacted the Josephs dozens of times, and "put pressure" on them to agree to the second contract, according to the complaint.
The Josephs claim that Webb told them that if they were unwilling to commit to the adoption within six weeks of the initial contact, and pay $37,900 in adoption fees, the child would be placed with another family.
They paid the money, the Josephs say, then traveled to Utah in November 2013 and waited nine days to get the baby - but the mother decided to keep it.
Only after returning to New Mexico, the Josephs say, did they learn that in January 2013 "the State of Utah placed defendants' license to operate an adoption agency on 'conditional status' for noncompliance with several Utah rules pertaining to adoption agencies."
This conditional status was levied before they got the first phone call about the second adoption, the Josephs say in the lawsuit. On Sept. 23, 2013, the complaint continues, the state sent the defendants a letter issuing them a probationary license, but warning "that defendants were prohibited from accepting any new birth parents or adoptive parents as clients," the complaint states.
The state also ordered the defendants to warn its clients about their conditional and probationary status - a warning the Josephs say they never got.
When they asked for their $37,900 back, an Adoption Center employee "stated that if it were up to him he would refund plaintiffs' money since the adoption did not work out, but explained that only Webb could decide whether to grant plaintiffs a refund," according to the complaint.
They never got the refund and learned in May this year that the Adoption Center had closed, the complaint states.
They want the $37,900 back and punitive damages for fraud and breach of contract.
They are represented by Wesley Jackson.
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