Woman who tried to sell adoptee on Net gets probation
By Scripps Howard News Service
DENVER -- The former adoptive mother of a troubled 9-year-old has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges that she sought $4,000 from prospective parents while trying to find a new home for the girl via the Internet.
Denise Kaye Thomas was sentenced Monday to one year of unsupervised probation and ordered to tell her story to groups interested in adoption.
The sentence brought a smile to Denise Thomas, who cried earlier as her husband, Peter, told a judge how the couple's efforts to cope with an emotionally detached child had caused "dawn-to-dusk, unremitting stress."
"It almost destroyed our family," she said after the hearing.
Denise Thomas, 43, was charged last year with felony counts of trying to sell Elena, whom the Thomases adopted in Russia in January 1999. During an Internet search for a new family for the girl, Denise Thomas requested $4,000 to help recoup some of the money the couple spent on the adoption, Assistant District Attorney Robert Chappell said.
When Denise Thomas was arrested in May 1999, the girl was placed with a foster family. The Thomases have since relinquished their parental rights so the foster family can adopt the girl, Peter Thomas said.
Prosecutors let Peter Thomas plead guilty to misdemeanor counts of child abuse and seeking compensation for placing a child.
The Thomases cited the plea bargain as evidence that authorities overreacted after being tipped by a Texas woman about Denise Thomas' Internet message. Chappell said he offered the reduced charges after concluding Denise Thomas was only trying to recover some of the expense of the international adoption. "But there's absolutely no question that she placed this child at risk by seeking a new home for her on her own, directly circumventing all the mechanisms that are in place for the protection of kids," Chappell said.