Socialite Taylor Stein Speaks Out On Helping Feds Bust Baby-Brokering Ring

Taylor Stein spent $180,000 to adopt, then helped feds take down sellers.

August 16, 2011, 10:13 PM

Aug. 17, 2011 — -- Being a mother isn't easy. But what Taylor Stein endured to bring home her son, 5-month-old Ren Friedrick, was truly extraordinary.

During the process of adopting her son, she helped take down an illegal baby-selling ring.

Stein, who is from New York but now lives in Los Angeles, is the daughter of legendary rock promoter Howard Stein.

Several years ago, the socialite decided that she wanted to adopt a baby boy. She already has a 4-year-old daughter, Djuna.

A friend introduced her to attorney Hilary Neiman. Neiman told Stein that there was a baby that had been meant to be adopted by another couple, but that the couple had abandoned the process.

"I'd been going through the Los Angeles adoption foster system, and it was very complicated, especially for a single mom, more challenging than I had heard," Stein said today in a live interview on "Good Morning America."

"When Hilary contacted me, the timing was right," she said. "I was raw. I didn't know what to do."

So Stein, a single mother, went forward with the adoption, even when Neiman named a price of $180,000 for the baby.

Stein wired Neiman tens of thousands of dollars, only to learn that the baby she thought was hers was no longer available, but another baby boy suddenly was.

"That's when I got a little curious," Stein told "GMA." "But, again, when you want a family and your dreams are sort of dangling like a carrot, you just get caught up in emotion and you lose your judgment."

"Nothing seemed real and I suddenly became, I don't know if obsessed is the right word, but he was my son," she recalled.

Two weeks before the baby was born, the FBI called Stein and told her that they believed the people with whom she was negotiating were crooks.

"The two FBI agents, they came to me, and you could tell they were very committed to this case," Stein said. "

The investigators asked for her help. Stein agreed to wear a wire and got Neiman to make incriminating statements on tape, but only after she reworked the FBI investigators' plan to take things into her own hands.

"I said 'Look, guys, after dealing with this attorney for a year, she's not going to buy this, let me do it my way,"" she told "GMA" of her role in the sting. " So I told them how I wanted to do it and we rehearsed it and, voila, it turned out to be a good plan."

Neiman was arrested, along with Carla Chambers, a former surrogate, and Theresa Erickson, a prominent surrogacy attorney. The three women all have pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges. They will be sentenced in October.

Federal prosecutors say the baby-selling ring recruited surrogate mothers from the United States -- offering them $38,000 to $45,000 -- and sent them to the Ukraine to have the embryos implanted.

Stein Got Money Back, Helped Surrogate

There is apparently less oversight of such proceedings in the Ukraine, and the population is white.

When the surrogates reached their second trimesters, the ringleaders shopped the baby around to wealthy, desperate couples.

"I never knew any of these so-called original intended parents names, I'd never seen their signatures so there was so much involved and I just didn't have the appropriate information, which was my fault but again, I think when you're looking for a family, a child, I think we find ourselves incredibly emotional and vulnerable," Stein said.

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.

Stein worries her experience may become more the norm than the exception in adoption cases.

"This is a new frontier. We're going to see a lot more of these cases because there's such a supply and demand problem," she said. "This is something we have to watch out for. I believe if transparency is not there, there is probably something wrong."

In her case, in the end, Stein was able to recoup some of the money she invested in the adoption.

She also contacted the surrogate mother and paid the woman's bills.

Now she is focused on looking forward, to a long and happy future with her son.

"He's just unbelievable," she said of 5-month-old Ren Friedrick. "I feel like he knows what's going on. He's so aware. He's just risen to the occassion."

Click here to return to the "Good Morning America" website.

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