“Guarding our hearts” – Couple stress need for caution in online adoptions after Jones case

Mike Still • Jun 26, 2019 at 6:00 PM

GATE CITY — Matt and Laura Trayte say they still hope to find an adoptive sibling for their 7-year-old son despite their experience with Elizabeth Ann Jones.

The couple sat in the Scott County Courthouse Wednesday morning as Jones pleaded guilty to deceiving them in 2018 by claiming she was pregnant and willing to let them adopt her fictional child.

“We’re very pleased with the outcome,” Matt said after the court session. “Our main goals were to hold her accountable and make sure she doesn’t do this to anyone else, and we wanted to raise awareness to the public.”

The Traytes, both educators in Orange County, California, had struggled with fertility treatments before having their son, and they decided that their best option to give him a sibling was adoption. After dealing with a series of adoption agencies, they realized that the organizations they were dealing with were basically doing marketing campaigns.

From that point, the Traytes used Laura’s skills in web design to create their own web page and Facebook presence to look for women who were pregnant but willing to let their child be adopted. In September 2018, Jones approached them, saying she was five months pregnant.

“We saw some red flags, but she explained them away,” Laura said.

“We tried to put ourselves in her place,” Matt added. “For us, money doesn’t matter. We spoke with her every day.”

Laura said she even tried to convince Jones to keep the child, but “she said we were the couple she wanted her baby to be with.”

After discovering Jones’ deception after Thanksgiving, the Traytes said are still looking for a child to adopt but have become more cautious about the process. Since the Jones affair, Laura said she and Matt are careful to have a lawyer involved and to require proof of pregnancy from potential mothers.

“We’ve had some approach us, but after we asked for proof, they haven’t responded,” Laura said.

Laura said she hopes to see some kind of legislation targeting such actions as Jones’.

“This falls under the umbrella of domestic violence,” Laura said.

She has also started writing a book about the couple’s experience to help raise awareness about potential adoption fraud.

Matt said the experience has not soured them on Scott County and Southwest Virginia.

“There’s a lot of beauty here and some people who’ve reached out to help us,” he said.

“We’re kind of guarding our hearts,” Laura said. “I think there’s a child out there in our heart.”