Cybill Shepherd in Baby Brokers (1994)

The Adoption Scam

I don't remember it saying so at the start of "Baby Brokers" but this is a made for TV movie based upon a true story of a woman and her partner involved in a serial adoption scam. It is not until the end of the movie when we are informed of the outcome that all this becomes clear and it adds to the shock because to be honest "Baby Brokers" is a shocking movie. It is shocking in a sheer audacity sense of the word as we witness the depth of the adoption scam going on, the number of people who were hurt by it in one way or another. But at the same time "Baby Brokers" is a made for TV movie which suffers from some issues typical to this specific type of movie including a sadly cheesy ending.

L.A. psychologist Debbie Freeman (Cybill Shepherd) is desperate to have a child and having been told it is impossible decides to adopt, placing an advert in the press looking for a pregnant woman who wishes to give up her child on birth. Forward comes Leanne Dees (Nina Siemaszko) and partner Frankie (Tom O'Brien) who with already one child to support are willing to give up the child she is carrying for adoption. With the help of an attorney they put everything in motion with Debbie financially supporting Leanne and providing her with accommodation till the child is born. But unbeknown to Debbie is that Leanne and Frankie are scam artists who dupe desperate women for money with a promise of a baby before doing a runner. When Leanne does a runner Debbie calls on the help of her friend detective John (Jeffrey Nordling) to try and track her down and in doing so uncovering the far reaching extent of Leanne's adoption scam.

Nina Siemaszko in Baby Brokers (1994)

Without knowing that "Baby Brokers" is based on a true story it ends up both strange and strangely perverse. By that I mean whilst we have the story of Debbie, her friendship with John and her providing financial support to Leanne most of the movie's entertainment comes from the audacity of Leanne and the adoption scam. You are sort of gob smacked by the fact that whilst we watch her and Frankie manipulate Debbie, guilt tripping her into dishing out extra money they are also contacting other desperate women and playing them for money at the same time. It's not that you like them for what they do but the outrageousness of their scam is what is initially perversely entertaining.

At the same time we do also get to see how their duplicity affects those involved leaving them emotionally scarred and afraid to risk heartbreak by considering going down the adoption route again. And when at the end you discover that "Baby Brokers" is based upon a true story as we learn what happened to Leanne and Frankie it gives you a shock, sickening you as it really hits home the hurt they caused.

Now "Baby Brokers" whilst being based on a true story is also a typical TV movie and there are various elements to the movie which end up diluting its power. There is a cliche romantic element which may have been the case but comes over as being manufactured and tension between Debbie and her own parents adds little to the movie other than a few more minutes. Plus there is some corny dialogue which whilst you half expect from this sort of movie still ends up detracting from some powerful scenes.

Having said that the actors do a good job especially Nina Siemaszko as Leanne and Tom O'Brien as Frankie because you really get to see how manipulative they are. As for the rest of the cast which includes Cybill Shepherd, Anna Maria Horsford and Jeffrey Nordling it is a case of being routine with characters which are not as fleshed out as they could be.

What this all boils down to is that "Baby Brokers" is not a terrible movie and to be honest is quite interesting but the impact of it comes from knowing that it is based on a true story and it is then when it comes to life.