Mom Shares Heartbreaking Story of Being 'Manipulated' by Birth Mother in Private-Adoption Scam

Mom Shares Heartbreaking Story of Being 'Manipulated' by Birth Mother in Private-Adoption Scam

Freelance journalist and lifestyle blogger Jeannine Morris Lombardi had wanted to pursue adoption for as long as she can remember. So when she married Joe Lombardi in 2014, the couple hoped it would be part of their love story. Five years later, the Lombardis got their wish: They welcomed daughter Amaya Jo via adoption this past April.

While Jeannine says their new baby is “the most perfect piece of our family,” bringing Amaya home to New Jersey was long, complicated and emotionally draining. In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, she opens up about how several Instagram users posing as potential birth mothers manipulated her during the adoption process.

Instead of applying with an adoption agency — a process that can take anywhere from two to seven years, according to adopt.org — the New Jersey couple chose to invest time and money into pursuing a private adoption. After the devastating loss of their first and only biological daughter (who was stillborn at 32 weeks gestation), the couple were desperate for a baby.

So with the help of a lawyer, the Lombardis were largely responsible for finding a birth mother on their own. They launched an informative website, and got a new email address and phone number to communicate with pregnant women exploring adoption. Jeannine, a popular social-media influencer with nearly 30,000 followers, even went the extra mile by using Instagram as a marketing tool.

“The thing is, when you do a private adoption, you’re the ones dealing with the bulls—,” Jeannine says. “We went through six months of speaking to 16 different women — or so we thought — trying to figure out who was serious about it.”

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RELATED: Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann Open Up About Adoption and Their Unique Brood

The worst of these interactions started over Instagram direct messages, when a user claiming to be Ashley (@ashleymamabear2019) reached out.

“She contacted us saying she was 16 years old,” Jeannine tells PEOPLE. “She sent us pictures throughout her pregnancy of her and her bump. We knew about the weight she gained, we knew that she craved ice cream.”

Read more: https://people.com/parents/instagram-private-adoption-scam-exclusive/

College Football Fan's Sign Asking for Beer Money Raises More Than $1 Million for Charity

College Football Fan's Sign Asking for Beer Money Raises More Than $1 Million for Charity

What started as a quest for a little extra beer money has evolved into a million-dollar gift to children in need.

Carson King went viral last week with a homemade sign asking viewers of ESPN’s College GameDay to donate to his Venmo account so he could afford to stock up on beer.

“Busch Light Supply Needs Replenished,” read the sign, which was seen on TV during the match-up between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Iowa State Cyclones.

King, 24, told CNN he didn’t expect to make any money off of the “joke” sign, but somehow netted $400 within 30 minutes.

By the end of the day, he’d accumulated more than $1,000 — and quickly realized that the fast-growing cash would be put to much better use at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, as opposed to his wallet.

“With all the donations my @CollegeGameDay sign for @BuschBeer has received, I will be donating all but enough for a case of Busch Light to @uiowa Children’s Hospital,” he wrote.

With all the donations my @CollegeGameDay sign for @BuschBeer has received, I will be donating all but enough for a case of Busch Light to @uiowa Children’s Hospital. We’re at over $1,600.00 right now! @CycloneATH @WideRtNattyLt @ChrisMWilliams Venmo Carson-King-25

— Carson King (@CarsonKing2) September 14, 2019

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Within days, Busch Beer was on board too, and so was Venmo, with each company promising to match King’s donation.

.@CarsonKing2 this is the best thing we have read all year, we’re inspired.

We’re going to match your donation to University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, and we’ll throw in some of that Busch Light you were looking for. https://t.co/NPPrPp6zJg

— Busch Beer (@BuschBeer) September 17, 2019

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

We see a lot of great stories, but this is one of our favs @CarsonKing2. Count us in for matching the donation to the hospital, too. #ftk💛@BuschBeer @CollegeGameDay https://t.co/thS8JXOXC3

— Venmo (@venmo) September 17, 2019

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Busch even took the partne

Read more: https://people.com/sports/college-football-fan-sign-beer-money-raises-1m-charity/

Fla. Woman Charged After Bystander Posts Facebook Video of Her Allegedly Kicking and Choking Dog

Fla. Woman Charged After Bystander Posts Facebook Video of Her Allegedly Kicking and Choking Dog

A Florida woman has been arrested on charges of animal cruelty after she was allegedly caught on video kicking and choking her dog.

Michelle Sieber, 26, was arrested after the video was posted to Facebook by a bystander. In the video, which was viewed by PEOPLE, Sieber appears to kick the dog while they are walking in a parking lot towards her SUV. On several occasions, Sieber seems to pull the leash so tight that the dog is lifted off its front paws. The animal appears to be struggling to breathe.

The man who filmed the incident, Vincent Minutello, watched Sieber for about 30 seconds before confronting her.

“Hey, can you go a little easy on that dog, please?” he can be heard saying in the clip. Sieber laughs and asks Minuttello if he wants the animal, who she alleges is up for adoption.

“You can’t do what you’re doing,” he responds. “You are choking him. You are hanging your dog. He is sitting there by his neck and he can’t breathe.”

Minutello posted the video on Facebook, where it was subsequently shared more than 2,500 times. Sieber was later identified from the video and arrested on a charge of felony animal cruelty. PEOPLE confirms that she was booked into the Pinellas County Jail on $5,000 bond.

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Arrest records do not list an attorney authorized to speak on her behalf. She has not yet entered a plea.

According to WFTS-TV, police say that the dog in the video did not appear to sustain any injuries. Two dogs were taken from Sieber, and are now in the custody of animal control.

Seiber’s mother, Rea Sieber, spoke to WFLA and said that her daughter has been misunderstood. “She’s been through a lot of trauma in the last few years,” Rea told the station. “She needs help, but is not a bad person.”

After Sieber’s arrest, Minutello urged his followers not to threaten the woman with violence. “I really hope everyone can focus on the positive that is coming from this video and not the negative,” he wrote. “Violence and threats are completely against the message I am hoping to spread.”

Read more: https://people.com/crime/fla-woman-charged-after-bystander-posts-facebook-video-of-her-allegedly-kicking-and-choking-dog/

Julianne Hough Says She's 'Never Felt More Like a Woman' After Coming Out as 'Not Straight'

Julianne Hough Says She's 'Never Felt More Like a Woman' After Coming Out as 'Not Straight'

Julianne Hough is officially living her most authentic life.

Last month, the America’s Got Talent judge revealed that she told her husband, Brooks Laich, that she’s “not straight.” And after releasing her first song in nearly a decade last week, titled “Transform,” Hough is on cloud-nine.

“This is the first time I feel like I’m not just trying to push it or perform it,” she told PEOPLE backstage at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas on Friday. “It’s like, no, this is just for me and this is my voice and my truth, and I’m so excited to just speak from that place. And if people like it and resonate with it, then that’s a bonus. But this felt so good, to just like let it out and be me.”

Over the last several years, Hough, 31, said she became more comfortable sharing who she is with people.

RELATED: Julianne Hough Debuts First New Song in Nearly a Decade During America’s Got Talent Finale

“I love being 31,” she said. “I have never felt more like a woman in my life, and I’ve always been the girl next door, all-American sweetheart. And that’s a version and a part of me, but it’s not all of who I am, and I didn’t even know that about me. So the last few years have been about me picking up all parts of who I am and the parts that I’ve suppressed over probably 25 years.”

While it wasn’t easy for Hough to finally show herself to the world, she said it was “so liberating to come out the other side and know that like, this is who I am and I’m so freaking proud of who I am.”

In Women’s Health September cover story, Hough admitted that as she was undergoing a personal evolution, she was fearful that her husband, an NHL player and entrepreneur, wouldn’t understand.

“I was connecting to the woman inside that doesn’t need anything, versus the little girl that looked to him to protect me,” she said. “I was like, ‘Is he going to love this version of me?’ But the more I dropped into my most authentic self, the more attracted he was to me.”

RELATED: Julianne Hough Doesn’t Actually Like When Brooks Laich Sucks on Her Toes: ‘Let Me Clear That Up’

As a result, Hough said they now “have a more intimate relationship.”

Becoming more emotionally and physically intimate allowed Hough to

Read more: https://people.com/tv/julianne-hough-says-never-felt-more-like-woman/

WWII Vet Asks for 100 Cards to Celebrate 100th Birthday — a Request Linked to His Late Wife

WWII Vet Asks for 100 Cards to Celebrate 100th Birthday — a Request Linked to His Late Wife

A veteran of World War II is calling on the public to help make his upcoming 100th birthday a special one.

James South will mark a century of life on Oct. 7, and he’s hoping to receive 100 birthday cards to help him celebrate.

South’s assisted living home, Brookdale Watauga in Texas, shared a photo of the smiling vet to Facebook in which he holds a red sign making his request.

“Hello! My name is James South and I am a proud WWII veteran! I will be turning 100 on October 7th, 2019. I would like to receive 100 birthday cards. Please mail to: 5800 North Park Dr., Watauga, TX 76148. Thank you!” the sign reads.

Letters hold a special place in South’s heart, as his girlfriend, Sophie, wrote him one for each day he was at war, he told local ABC affiliate WFAA. He and Sophie went on to marry, and they were wed for 55 years before her death in 2001.

 

“It would give me a feeling that I am recognized for what I do, what I am,” he said of receiving the cards. “And I would cherish it forever.”

His son Jim South told CNN that his father joined the Army in 1940 and was deployed to Normandy seven days after D-Day.

RELATED: World War II Veteran, 95, Is Crossing the Country on Foot Again and Plans to Finish in 5 Years

Though he retired at age 65 and moved into Brookdale at 98, he’s kept busy and has many hobbies, including woodworking, growing his garden, playing golf and going to church.

“My dad taught me that a hug is better than a handshake. And that money wasn’t the goal in life — it was happiness,” Jim said.

RELATED VIDEO: 71 Years Later, WWII Vet Reunites with Wartime Girlfriend

As for what South plans to do with the stack of cards he receives, he has a little redecorating in mind.

“ maybe a frame and put all the cards in my room, where I won’t forget them,” he told WFAA.

Those who want to help James South celebrate his birthday can send cards to:

5800 North Park Dr.
Watauga, TX 76148

Read more: https://people.com/human-interest/veteran-wants-100-cards-100th-birthday/

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