An Alabama woman is accused of taking money from a central Pennsylvania couple and at least three other adoptive families to whom she promised her unborn child.
Shareen Gurnsey, 32, was arrested Thursday and charged with theft by deception regarding one pending adoption, but attorneys for the parents say each of the families paid Gurnsey at least $6,000 for a baby boy who is expected to be born in January.
The attorneys said the Pennsylvania family — and parents in Alabama, Maryland and New York — were all matched with Gurnsey through separate adoption agencies.
The Pennsylvania couple, who asked to be identifed only by their first names of Beth and Rocky, said they tried unsuccessfully for years to have a baby and were thrilled to be matched with Gurnsey.
“We got attached,” Rocky said. “We were excited from day one. We wanted to live the experience, even though we were adopting, as much as the birth mother.”
The couple says they agreed to a semi-open adoption, meaning that they would send Gurnsey pictures of the baby boy, but Beth says she began getting an uneasy feeling.
“I used to go on her Facebook page just to see what I could find about her and there were inconsistencies,” she said. “Anytime we had a doubt, she would say something or text something or do something that would make us feel this is definitely happening.”
The couple’s attorney in Alabama and another attorney eventually figured out that they were both representing couples who had been matched with Gurnsey.
“And that’s where it comes out that she’s working with multiple agencies and multiple families in tune to thousands of dollars that have been paid out,” Rocky said.
“I don’t think you can ever prepare yourself for this person is completely bold face lying to me,” Beth said. “They have no intention of giving us this child.”
Alabama TV station WKRG reported Gurnsey has a lengthy criminal history of writing counterfeit checks. The bad checks she was convicted of writing in February 2013 totaled over $28,000.