MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — News 5 continues to dig into the criminal past of Shareen Gurney, the Mobile County woman who adoption attorneys say was involved in a nationwide plan to steal from adoptive couples.
We found a lengthy rap sheet and twelve mugshots dating back to 2008. She has been arrested for disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and escape. She served prison time for several possession of a forged instrument charges. Court documents say she was convicted of writing counterfeit checks totaling over $28,000 in the past several years.
News 5 has also seen what are called “Birth Mother Background” documents that an adoption agency sent one of the couples. The documents show Gurnsey has given up three other children for adoption in the past. She also has two other children, according to the documents.
Gurnsey was arrested and charged with theft by deception Thursday and made her first court appearance in the case on Friday.
Although Gurnsey is only charged in one case right now, adoption attorneys say she was taking money from at least four adoptive families in four states — Alabama, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York.
Attorneys for those parents say she promised each of them the baby, all while taking money from them. The attorneys tell News 5 all of the families were matched with her through separate adoption agencies. They say each of the families paid at least six thousand dollars for a baby boy, who is expected to be born in January.
News 5 spoke with one of the couples. They live in Pennsylvania and say they were matched with her back in August. It is unclear if the charges are directly related to them, or to another couple. They asked that we only use their first names, Beth and Rocky. They have tried unsuccessfully for years to have a baby and were thrilled to match with Gurnsey. They tell us they had frequent phone conversations with her and never suspected Gurnsey was anything but truthful. They had even started preparing a nursery.
Beth and Rocky say they were aware of Gurney’s criminal past, but since they believed she had given up three other children before, they figured she would go through with their adoption too.
“You form a bond with these people,” Beth said. “You have this love for them because of what they are giving you. It is something you could not do for ourselves. She is offering her child to me. How do you thank someone for that?”