SOS Update: Mom in Georgia

Update: Mom and sister are now attacking Lynn via her SOS page and have had her account removed from Facebook.

Update #2: To request your donation back, for not being used for the apartment and instead for sister’s bills, please contact Beverly directly here: Beverly Oliver Crowson

Sister’s name is Beverly Oliver Crowson

First I need to say that the mother in Georgia’s situation was totally legit. She was put on the streets by the hopeful adoptive parents. She did need money for her own apartment. Her sister did take her in so she had a place to stay. However, and regrettably, Saving Our Sisters is going to have to pull support from this case. It’s a long and drawn out story but I’ll do my best to explain it here. We never want to have to step away and leave a mother without our support system. We have an army of people ready and willing to help and help they do. We have helped numerous people avoid adoption relinquishment and successfully parent. The reason this works is because there is cooperation between the mother and SOS. The reason we are able to help all of these mothers is because of our credibility. You know that when you are donating to SOS your money is going to be used for the stated purpose. You know when you purchase baby clothes, car seats, or diapers that it is going for a child in need to help him stay with his mother.  Our good name stands because of our transparency. We post receipts, we post all of our contributions, and we are totally honest with our donors. In exchange, we expect totally honesty from the mothers we are helping. It doesn’t matter what outlet is being used to gather the money (PayPal, Go Fund Me, personal checks, etc) the actual solicitation of donations comes from SOS. People give because we ask and that is so very awesome of them. Because of this, and to protect our credibility, SOS needs to be able to manage these funds and show total transparency to its donors and sisters. Without this there will be no more moms to help and how sad would that be? We do not use any donations for personal gain. As a matter of fact, many of us dig into our own pockets to help and spend hours of our time doing so. Our families suffer when we are not present because we are working on a case. Our bank accounts are that much smaller because of the gas money spent or the phone bill we ran up. At the end of the day, though, it is worth it and we will continue to do it. To imply that SOS is trying to obtain funds for personal gain or to use someone’s sob story to raise money for moms other than the mother in question is absurd. We have nothing to gain by doing so.

When the Georgia mom’s story was brought to the attention of Lynn an myself, we immediately jumped in to help. Her Go Fund Me account only had $60 raised and it seemed her situation was an emergency, and it was. Lynn immediately started to ask people for help and I composed a blog post pleading with urgency for help for this mom. What followed was the magic of SOS. People began to contribute to the campaign (which was linked in my blog as well as on various Facebook groups and pages per the SOS request) as well as offering to send baby items to the mother. That evening we had boots on the ground in Lagrange, Georgia with a local sister running to Walmart to purchase baby essentials and drop them off. Everything seemed to be running smoothly. The local sister reported that baby and mom were healthy, home was safe and clean, and mother passed the initial “vetting” that we do for all mothers. The vetting process is just to assure no one is trying to scam SOS. By the following morning over $1000 had been raised in the Go Fund Me account. Did I mention our network of people rocks? However, by that evening there was a problem.

There were some things that had not been initially disclosed. Nothing too big but definitely pertinent to the long-term success of this mother. Upon changing her mind Mom had child protective services called on her by the prospective adoptive parents. Yes, I know….despicable. Because of this mom is now on a care plan. CPS deemed her safe to keep the baby but she needed to have someone with her for now to help care for the baby. I won’t divulge why because that is her personal information but I will say its not due to neglect, abuse, drug use, or any of those things. Because of the care plan, baby is expected to be in a safe household that includes functioning utilities and baby is expected to be transported to all doctor appointments that are scheduled. Here is where the problem came in. Mom’s sister makes a frantic phone call to Lynn explaining they are about to repossess her car. The car is needed to transport baby to doctor’s appointments as it is the only working vehicle in the family, according to sister. While there is a good amount of money now in the Go Fund Me account, that generally takes 2-5 business days to complete the ACH deposit. The other glitch was that the Go Fund Me campaign that was set up did not disclose that the funds raised would be going to make sister’s car payment. Technically, using those funds for this purpose constitutes fraud. Lynn agreed to pay sister’s car payment right then and there on one stipulation. The Go Fund Me account and the We Pay account attached to it would be transferred to SOS for us to manage donations. Since our name was now on this, and we were the ones who asked our community to donate, it seemed only fair. There was some resistance initially. We had to calm down sister and mom and explain to them how this works. We had to explain that we would make sure the funds we had raised would be going to mom for expenses related to what it was originally raised for. Sister agreed and shared passwords with Lynn.

It must be noted, at no time did Lynn change any passwords. Sister still had access to all the accounts. SOS works on mutual trust and transparency. There was a verbal agreement between sister (campaign manager) and Lynn to let SOS handle the funds. This is always how we operate. Typically, however, donations are made directly to SOS via PayPal. This is not out of the ordinary. Any charity organization that participates in fundraising does not give cash to its beneficiaries to use at their discretion. Energy assistance makes payments directly to your power company. Catholic Charities will make payments directly to your landlord, so on and so forth.

As discussed between Lynn and sister, Lynn set up the We Pay account to manage the funds that SOS had raised. Like I said before, sister created the Go Fund Me but SOS raised that money. We put our name on it and asked for donations. We are accountable for it.

Lynn made the car payment for sister and things moved ahead. This morning there was another glitch. Sister calls again, frantic, because the electricity is going to be shut off on Tuesday if $600 is not paid. Keep in mind that mom has only been living with her for a few days. This is not mom’s bill. Yes, electricity needs to remain on in order for baby to stay with mom, but that is not what people were donating to. Sister is advised to call energy assistance, first, to see if they can help and we can go from there. This is also met with opposition and angry comments and accusations towards SOS. We devise a plan to make everyone happy. To avoid being accused of fraud, for them and for us, we decide that we can compose an email and send it to every donor on the Go Fund Me page. This is the email that was sent to everyone that had donated:

(names have been changed to Baby, Mom and Sister for privacy reasons)

“Dear Generous Donors,

In order to be as transparent as possible we are writing to each of you with a private update about Mom and Baby.

When Mom’s sister started the Go Fund Me campaign the intentions were to raise enough money for Mom to secure her own apartment. However, due to a change in circumstances, we need to ask your permission to apply the funds already raised to something else.

As you already know, the prospective adoptive parents involved DFS when Mom decided to parent. For this reason, they are checking in with her frequently to be sure everything is okay. Mom has a care plan in place and as long as everything goes smoothly she will successfully complete that plan.

As you also know, Mom’s sister generously opened her home to Mom. Without this it is almost certain that Baby would be in the care of DFS and Mom would be homeless. Because of Mom’s care plan, for now, Sister must be with Mom when she cares for the baby because [private]. This means Sister cannot work. Her fiance is pulling the weight, right now, for 7 children and 3 adults.

This is all temporary, but it is imperative that DFS see food in the refrigerator, utilities turned on, transportation to doctors appointments, and a functioning home environment.

We are writing today to ask if it is okay for the donations you supplied to be applied to something other than a security deposit and first month’s rent. There is a $600 electric bill and $400 car payment that needs to be made to avoid shut offs and repossessions. If the lights are shut off and the car is repossessed it is almost certain that Mom will lose Baby.

As far as a permanent plan, one is in place. Mom will be returning to work shortly and Sister, her sister, will be caring for Baby. Once Mom has successfully finished her care plan, she will be able to take more steps forward on the path to becoming entirely independent.

As stated before, we are writing to you to ask your permission, the donors, to use this money for these items. We want to maintain transparency and need you to know how appreciative we are for your generosity. It is because of you that this mother and baby are going to be able to remain together.

As this is an urgent matter, we request that you send an email to Wsbirthmom@gmail.com and include the following:

-The name you used to donate to Go Fund Me. If you donated anonymously please include it here.
-The amount you donated to Go Fund Me.
-If we have your permission to apply funds for expenses we mentioned, or if you would like your donation refunded. Depending on the timing of your response, we may be able to refund your donation via the Go Fund Me website. But, if we are not, please let us know if a PayPal refund could be sent or another means.

Saving Our Sisters will now only be handling direct donations for this mother through PayPal at Wsbirthmom@gmail.com

The deadline to pay the electric bill is by the end of the business day Monday. We are asking that a response be received by Monday morning, if possible.

Again, thank you all for your continued support of Mom and Baby. You are making a difference in the lives of a mother and child. We cannot do what we do without your support.

For continued updates on this case please see the Saving Our Sisters Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/adoptionS

Sincerely,

Saving Our Sisters
On Behalf of {sic} Mom”

We ran this by Mom and she gave the go ahead to send it out. We were hoping to gain the permission of the donors to use the money they had donated to pay the electric bill and car payment since this is not what the money being raised was supposed to go to. However, these were things that would indirectly benefit and help Mom, albeit not directly helping her as she would now have no money left from the fundraising for her own place. There are 2 reasons for doing things this way. 1) If anyone accused them or SOS of fraud we had a paper trail to show that wasn’t the case. 2) It was unlikely that the funds from Go Fund Me would be available, after transfer, before the electricity was set to be shut off. Because of this Lynn was going to have to, once again, use her own personal funds for the $600 electric bill. This time, however, she couldn’t afford not to be paid back. If the donors agreed, she would pay the electric bill out of her own money and recoup that and the car payment from the Go Fund Me funds. If the donors did not agree she would eat the $400 and process a refund to the donors. Honestly, we didn’t think anyone would have a problem with this but honesty and transparency has to be of the utmost importance here. We set out to log into the Go Fund Me page to gather the emails of those who had donated and found the passwords had been changed. We were unable to log into Go Fund Me or We Pay.

We questioned sister and mom about this. Mom claimed she has nothing to do with the Go Fund Me and it’s all on her sister. Sister said someone else must have changed passwords (insinuating SOS had) which was not the case. Eventually sister admitted she had changed the passwords and again questioned SOS motives. She wanted to know why we should manage the money that we had asked people to give. Lynn asked about the $400 she had given out of her own pocket based on trust and a mutual understanding and sister basically told her “too bad so sad.” We reiterated that we wanted to help mom but needed trust and cooperation from them. We reminded them that now our names were on this and if there were any accusations of fraud that we could help no other mothers in the future. We were still met with opposition. Finally, we told them that we did not want to have to contact the authorities but sister was forcing our hands as what they were doing DOES constitute fraud. The money raised was for an apartment and baby items. The money was going to be spent on car payments for sister and sister’s overdue electric bill. Reluctantly, and eventually, sister gave up the password. The email above was sent to all donors. We Pay was locked still because a code had been sent to sister’s phone in order to proceed in which she would not provide.

At this point it is assumed that sister has stopped the transfer of We Pay funds into Lynn’s account and that she is just out $400. We go into “damage control” mode in order to figure out a way to fix things so our donors still have faith in us since we have no way to account for how the money we asked for is going to be used. It is then that Lynn begins to get several text messages and phone calls from sister and mom.

As it turns out, We Pay did process the money from the account, per the original agreement between Lynn and sister (campaign manager). We were now being accused of stealing, scamming and fraud. The funds were not in the We Pay account but they are not yet in Lynn’s bank account either. Typically ACH transfers take 2-5 business days. I tell mom that we can still wait on the emails sent to donors to see if they’re okay with the payments being made and Lynn can still pay the electric bill tomorrow if they’re okay with that and recoup her costs from the Go Fund Me funds. This isn’t good enough. There were a whole slew of accusations and me reiterating much of the same stuff I’ve already said here. After going around and around with this mom tells me she wants to see proof of refunds to people who donated directly to SOS. SOS is a charity organization. If people donate and want their donations going to a specific mother, the money goes to that specific mother for items she needs at SOS discretion. This is how we operate. If donor wants a refund and no items for mom have been purchased with their donation we will comply. Typically, when someone donates directly to SOS and the money isn’t going to a certain mother they will ask that it be applied to the next mom in line. It is at this point that I gave up. After being accused of trying to scam a mother, when we are the ones who asked people to donate to her for baby items and an apartment, and being threatened with police and FBI it was decided that we would let the donors decide. If they wanted a refund of what they donated we would refund it. If they wanted it to go to Mom knowing it wasn’t going to an apartment we would do that too.

This is where we are currently. Working out what the donors want done with their money. In the mean time, Lynn is out $400. Her family is out $400. She will not be keeping that money from the Go Fund Me to cover this as that is not what people were donating for.

It really is a shame that some people would try to use the charity of others as a cash cow. I believe mom has no choice as her hands are literally tied. Sister is taking advantage of all this generosity. Where would they be had SOS not stepped in and asked people to give? A repossessed car and the lights turned off. Where will they be after this? The car payment is good for a few weeks and I’m not sure about the electricity. That depends on the donors. There is also a new portable crib coming via mail with sheets and baby clothes thanks to a good birthmom friend. Many other baby items were also mailed. Had we not stepped in they would not have these things and it really is a shame that anyone would try to discredit the work we do. This helps no one, including future moms. There has to be accountability for stuff like this. People don’t donate if they don’t trust that it will be used for what it says it will be used for.

In the future, we will not be dealing with or helping any moms with Go Fund Me accounts. Before receiving our assistance any campaigns like this will need to be taken down and donations will need to go directly through SOS to be managed.

I thank you all for your continued support with SOS. If you happened to be one of the one’s who donated via Go Fund Me look for that email. (see update #2 at the beginning of this article) If you donated through SOS directly please contact Lynn to discuss what you would like done with your funds.

If anyone is interested in screen shots because they don’t believe what I’ve written I’d be happy to share. Shoot me or Lynn and email.

musingsofabirthmom@gmail.com

wsbirthmom@gmail.com

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7 thoughts on “SOS Update: Mom in Georgia

  1. This mom’s sister should be ashamed of herself. My Sisters are not frauds, nor do we ever try and take and keep money raised for helping a mom in need. All we ever want to do is help keep families together.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. So sorry this happened. Who is managing the GFM account now – you guys or the family? An email went out to donors with an Amazon baby registry.

    You do good work. Sometimes when money comes in to a family that isn’t used to that and they are in need, other motives win.

    -C

    Like

    • Right now the sister is managing the gofundme. SOS didn’t send an email out about a registry, that was them. The saddest part is the sister has now screwed the mom and baby out of long term help that would guarantee her success.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is so sad to hear. We ALL know how supportive, hard working and giving These Sisters are. WE KNOW what it means to keep mom’s and babies together! Lynn and you bust your butts, put your names on the line for GOOD!! NOT for this greedy, manipulative person to use her poor sister and baby’s situation to her advantage, to steal money to pay the bills she couldn’t pay, long before her sister moved in! How sad that she saw $$$ signs when agreeing to “Help”, only said “yes, for the money, an “easy” way to get her out of the hole she has dug, all on her own! I hope and pray mom and baby can get out of that situation asap, there must be someone else to help them, a more caring, loving person to be with her through this?! She sounds just as evil & low down as the Wanna be parents!!!! UGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Keep it up SOS!! You guys are the BEST!!!! Don’t let the greed of others stop you from all the good you do for mama’s and babies!!!! WE LOVE AND SUPPORT YOU!!!!!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Complete and Total Transparency: Saving Our Sisters is Attacked | Musings of a Birthmom

  5. Pingback: SOS Update: Mom In Georgia | Adoption & Birth Mothers*

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