LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Legal Newsline) - Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced on Tuesday that the former owners of an adoption agency were ordered to pay more than $1.2 million in penalties and restitution for defrauding Arkansans.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce ordered Ed Webb and Donna Hight, the owners of the defunct Little Rock-based Adoption Advantages Inc., to pay more than $1.2 million and to never do business in Arkansas again. Pierce and Webb claimed to specialize in domestic infant adoptions and allegedly lied to prospective parents about the availability of birth mothers seeking adoptive parents for their children.
Adoption Advantage charged tens of thousands of dollars in fees and asked couples to sign a contract and wire money to be able to adopt a child immediately.
"Many Arkansas families who earnestly wished to adopt were left with despair and heartbreak after dealing with the defendants," McDaniel said. "Some consumers gave their life savings to this company to adopt a child. Instead, these callous individuals stole their hopes, dreams and their money."
In 2010, McDaniel sued Adoption Advantage for alleged violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. In April, a Pulaski County jury unanimously found that Hight and Jacklyn Potter, a former Adoption Advantage employee, violated the law. The court previously entered a default judgment against Adoption Advantage and Webb.
Judge Pierce ordered the defendants to pay $850,749 in restitution, $372,000 in civil penalties and $33,577 in fees and costs. The order also prohibits the defendants from operating an adoption service in or from Arkansas and from offering to facilitate adoptions for Arkansas residents.