By Jennifer Mock Published: December 2, 2007
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Th
e mother had changed her mind, they were told, and the baby they had dreamed about for years was gone.

"At that point we were pretty much had,” he said.

The Lees have an ongoing lawsuit against their attorney, who Randle says knew the woman had done this before yet did not disclose it to them. The mother later was sentenced to nine years in prison for child trafficking. The Lees are trying to recover some of the more than $30,000 they spent on attorney fees and birth mother expenses.

Add legal protections
Randle Lee said he knows not all private attorney adoptions turn out badly. In fact, he thinks the situation could have happened through an agency as well. The system could be improved by some added legal protections for all parties involved — including the attorney, the adoptive parents, the birth parents and the child, he said.

Randle Lee said he isn't sure attorneys who want to conduct adoptions should be required to be licensed through the state and ordered to meet certain minimum requirements. For most attorneys, adoption is not their primary business, he said, so if inconsistencies between agencies and attorneys were clarified, it would benefit all involved.

"I don't know that you can ever protect people from their emotions,” he said.