ROSELLE PARK — The birth mother of a child given up for adoption has started a fundraising campaign to get the child back after a legal battle went in her favor.

Gloria Roman said she was a 19-year-old college freshman when she found out she was pregnant and was scared at the prospect of having to raise the child alone, according to her GoFundMe page.

To make matters worse, Roman said she and her mother were evicted from their home when she was seven months pregnant, at which point she went to live in her sister's attic. With a baby on the way, she said "our finances were tight and there was no room for me and my baby."

"Because of my recent eviction and because I was making minimum wage, I believed that I would be unable to give my baby a good life and started to look into placing my baby up for adoption," she said on the website.

Prior to giving birth, Roman said she was contacted by an adoption agency that introduced her to possible parents for the baby. While this was going on, she said the agency did not follow laws that require mothers considering adoption to be counseled on alternatives and was also told that "foster care wasn't an option."

Roman said the agency also told her that she would not be a candidate for public assistance if she chose to raise the baby herself. The way it was presented, Roman said the agency made it seem as though "adoption was the best and only choice for me and my baby."

She gave birth to a son in July 2017 and was able to hold him before the adoption agency had her sign documents surrendering her parental rights.

Roman said she began to regret her decision and told her family what had happened.

"Giving him up was the worst decision of my life, but I was misinformed," she said. "I would not have placed him up for adoption if I knew foster care was an option or if I thought I could get public assistance from the government to raise him on my own. Unfortunately, the adoption agency mislead me and took advantage of the fact that I was a young mother who was placing her baby for adoption without the knowledge or support of her family."

 

A month after the boy was born, Roman said she reached out to the adoption agency and the child's adopted parents to say she had changed her mind but was told that "it was too late and that there was nothing I can do about it."

It was at that point that Roman hired an attorney, filing a lawsuit against the agency and the new parents. Months of preparation and a two-week trial ended with the court finding in her favor, Roman said. The trial judge, she said, ruled that the documents were invalid because the agency had not provided proper guidance on the alternatives to adoption.

The judge ordered custody be returned to Roman, but the parents filed an appeal, which is still pending, and has allowed them to keep custody of the boy.

"I am happy that the judge ruled in my favor against the adoption agency, and I am prepared to fight the adoptive parents and do whatever it takes to get my baby back from them," she said.

Through the trial and appeals, Roman said she has more than $80,000 in legal fees, with her attorney saying to possibly expect further expenses of another $50,000. Roman said she has taken time off from school in an attempt to raise funds for her legal fees.

"We may not be as rich as the adoptive parents, but my family and I can give my baby a good happy and healthy home," she said. "The court decided that the adoption agency acted wrongfully with me, and I should not be kept from him because I could not afford to fight the appeal against the adoptive parents."

Roman started the campaign at the beginning of March with a goal of raising $90,000. Since that time she has raised more than $5,500.

An attorney representing the adoptive parents sent a statement to New Jersey 101.5 about the matter:

"Due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter, the details of this case are sealed from public access," the statement said. "For the sake of all involved - most notably the child, who will undoubtedly access the internet in the distant future - my clients prefer to keep this a private matter within the court system."

The attorney, who said they could not provide additional information said "it suffices to say that there is more to the story."

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