PINELLAS PARK — Pinellas County Sheriff’s detectives say they arrested a 26-year-old Pinellas Park woman at her home Aug. 14 on charges of adoption fraud.
Detectives with the Economics Crime Unit began an investigation June 5 after being notified by a local adoption agency about the suspected fraud.
Detectives say Joshua Buechler, 35, and Lindsey Buechler, 35, from Nebraska, were contacted by Susan Deckrow, 69, director of adoptions at Thomas Fischgrund P.A., after Ceara Rae Stowe selected their adoption profile.
Stowe, who was pregnant and incarcerated at the Pinellas County Jail at the time, signed a pre-birth agreement Dec. 21, 2018 for the adoption of her twins with the Buechler family. Joshua and Lindsey Buechler signed and accepted the acceptance of adoption agreement for fees to adopt Stowe’s unborn twins on Dec. 24, 2018.
While in the jail, Stowe communicated with the Buechlers through the jail email system and written letters. Stowe was released from jail March 4. She continued communicating with the Buechlers and Deckrow by phone and text messages.
In late April or early May, Stowe told the Buechlers her doctor planned to induce labor on June 3. During that time, Stowe continued to communicate with the Buechlers and Deckrow maintaining her decision to place her unborn twins with them. As part of the adoption agreement, the Buechlers continued to pay fees to Stowe for rent, food and personal items during her pregnancy.
Stowe sent a text message to Deckrow on May 29 requesting $1,500 for rent, $250 allowance and an additional $350 for other various bills. The $2,100 was paid by both the Buechlers and Deckrow.
Stowe texted the Buechlers on June 3 stating that she was headed to Bayfront Hospital to be induced. The Buechlers arrived a few hours later at the hospital to discover Stowe was never admitted. Text messages from the Buechlers and Deckrow went unanswered by Stowe.
The following day, with a medical release, Deckrow learned Stowe had given birth in the early morning hours of May 26. Stowe did not notify the Buechlers or Deckrow of the birth of her twins when she requested the latest payment of $2,100. Copies of the birth certificates confirmed the date and times of the births.
Detectives interviewed Stowe Aug. 14 and she reportedly admitted signing the pre-birth agreement while in jail, and she acknowledged receiving funds after the birth of her twins and rescinding the adoption agreement, but not notifying the Buechlers or Deckrow.
Stowe was arrested on two felony counts of adoption deception and transported to the Pinellas County Jail without incident. Bail was set at $10,000.
Stowe’s 50-year-old mother took custody of the twins and Stowe’s four other children.