By Heather Shannon
February 21, 2009 / Today's TMJ4
WEST BEND - A baby was sold for $6,000 in Washington county, and now a Missouri woman is behind bars for the crime.
Police believe Denise Novotny purchased the baby from a Kewaskum couple. They allegedly signed a surrogate contract to make it look legal.
The little girl was born at Aurora Medical Center in Hartford in December of 2004.
Now, Denise Novotny, 36, sits in a Missouri jail, charged with child abduction and unauthorized adoption.
A criminal complaint says Novotny paid David and Angela Schmidt of Kewaskum $6,000 for their newborn daughter. Novotny allegedly had them sign a surrogate birth contract to make it appear legal. But the Schmidts now admit the girl was theirs, and that they willingly gave her up for money.
"Real surrogacy can be a good option for people who are experiencing infertility and it's a shame something like this happens because then it just gives it a bad name," Donna Strayer, Director of Adoption Services in Mequon says.
Strayer says she is shocked by the case, particularly because the Schmidts had legal options if they wanted to give up their child, or if they need financial assistance along the way.
Legally, adoptive parents can pay for maternity clothes, living expenses, birthing classes, or even give a gift. But selling a baby is against the law.
In order to make it legal, Strayer says, "She actually has to go before a judge and terminate her rights."
The complaint says the Schmidts don't want to contact their daughter, but never gave up their parental rights.
We tried to reach the couple and their attorney, but haven't heard back. The Washington County Assistant District Attorney who is handling the case says Novotny was wanted on warrants in Missouri, and once she is officially charged with those crimes, will be brought to Wisconsin to face a judge.
The assistant district attorney says no charges have been filed yet against the couple who sold the baby. But he does say the investigation into the case continues.