‘The Hillsdale Adoption Scam’ is a Lifetime Original drama directed by Asia Youngman and written by Dustin Hames. It stars Keshia Knight Pulliam, Danica Frederick, Michael Strickland, David Tomlinson, and Lauren Cochrane. It’s based on real stories about adoption scams that couples desperate for children are subjected to, though it’s not an adaptation of any specific real-life story of the sort.
More than most Lifetime films, it does have a more cinematic quality to it, with a relatively more refined visual style and a story that does not spoonfeed us from the get-go. The thriller angle is a complete dud, though, with twists that can be seen from a mile away and characters who are unbelievably silly.
The Hillsdale Adoption Scam (2023) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:
The Hornbys is pretty much a perfect family. Bethany Hornby runs her father’s lucrative interior designing business, Halo Interiors, which she’s recently inherited. Terrence Hornby works in marketing and has a successful career. They have two children, Mila and Gavin, and they all live happily together in a large house. Then one day, tragedy strikes. Gavin, who is adopted, with the legal formalities almost over, is suddenly claimed back by his biological mother and returned to her subsequently.
Bethany and Terrence are devastated and try to make their peace with this development, the latter losing his job because of the distress it puts him in. She suggests that they try for another child, but Terrence reminds her of her infertility, because of which he does not wish to see her heartbroken should she fail to conceive again. Bethany comes across an online support group for mothers called ‘Mommy Mine’ and uploads her story on the website.
A few weeks after Gavin’s departure from the Hornby home, a young woman comes running in search of shelter at their place. She’s pregnant and is running from her boyfriend, who wants to kill her. Bethany takes her in, and after the fiasco seemingly calms down, she drives her to a nearby hotel. The woman, Georgia, tells Bethany that she plans to put her child up for adoption since her current boyfriend is an alcoholic, and this news did not land well with him, causing him to get violent with her. That’s why she ran away and took shelter at Bethany’s place.
Georgia says the baby’s father named Gavin, was the love of her life, who died a few months back in a car accident. The name Gavin and Georgia’s current predicament make Bethany relate to her grief. After the baby’s adoption, Georgia plans on leaving for Florida, where she will stay with some relatives and begin her life anew. At the same time, Bethany views it as an opportunity to adopt a child to replace the void Gavin has left in her family.
At Bethany’s office, Georgia turns away a rude client who had been troubling her. She realizes that Georgia’s street smarts can come in handy, especially given the kind of pushover she herself is. Hence, she offers Georgia a temporary job as her assistant till she has to leave for Florida, which she accepts. Georgia’s life turns around entirely following this.
Bethany offers her $30,000 to adopt her baby, with half of it paid upfront. She also gifts her a car because of how good she is at her job. Following an invasion of Bethany’s home by Puck, she rents a swanky apartment for Georgia to live in. She’s even given a professional midwife to take care of her. Yet with Georgia, none of what appears to be true is actually so.
What kind of con ring are Georgia, Puck, and Carmen running?
Georgia, Puck, and Carmen are all collaborators. They find desperate mothers who want surrogate children or to adopt a child and exploit their desperation. They use the internet to find their victims and then prey on them, scamming them out of money and their valuable property.
Using the online support group for moms called Mommy Mine, they find their targets who are all too willing to reveal information from their private lives on a website like that. It is because of Bethany’s openness about the difficult time she was going through following Gavin leaving their house that enables Georgia to manipulatively use his name as her own ex-boyfriend, who is supposedly the father of the child, to exploit that sentiment.
Puck being an abusive boyfriend, and all is a ruse that they cooked up to get Georgia into Bethany’s place. In the same fashion, they got another partner of theirs, Carmen, into that house by making her play a midwife, something Georgia pretends to really want for the safe delivery of her child. Georgia is not even actually pregnant and wears a fake bump to seem like she is.
Her ultrasound report that she used to dupe Bethany into believing she was carrying a son is quite possibly a stolen one belonging to Abby Sparkman, over whose name she put a sticker with her own name. In the relationship the three shares, Carmen and Georgia keep Puck under their command by sexually subjugating him. Carmen is the most violent of the lot and a complete sociopath.
Who is Grace Goldstein?
Grace Goldstein is a woman that the trio found on Mommy Mine. She was looking for a surrogate mother, and Georgia got in touch with her by pretending to be one. We are not informed as to what transpired over the course of that con, but following their abandonment of that family, Carmen murdered them through carbon monoxide poisoning as, apparently, they knew too much about the identities of the three.
She did quite a thorough job as the police, even after investigation, did not suspect any foul play. This incident is a depiction of how dangerous Carmen is, as she can even kill a family to keep their cover intact. For Bethany, the discovery of Grace’s story almost blew Georgia’s cover, but she improvised quite well, pretending that she had had a miscarriage while carrying their child, following which she left them and that she was completely unaware of their death.
The Hillsdale Adoption Scam (2023) Movie, Ending Explained
What was the trio planning as their final crime in scamming the Hornbys?
As Bethany’s assistant, Georgia had complete access to all the information in her business. Puck’s attack on Desi, which put her in a coma, meant that Bethany no longer had her friend to look out for her. So, the trio’s final plan involved the McQueen collection, an expensive art collection that was arriving at the office of Halo Interiors in two days. They planned on looting all this art worth $600,000 and escaping with it as the culmination of their con.
After Bethany finds out about how she’s being conned and goes to Georgia’s apartment to confront her, she is abducted and taken to the inventory locker at her office. There, she learns about the three being in league together. When Terrence discovers something fishy going on with Bethany, he arrives at Halo Interiors, and it all turns into a major confrontation.
Puck lets Bethany go and is stabbed as a result by Carmen. She then uses his body to lure Terrence into the office and abduct Mila. Puck, injured but still mobile, attacks Carmen and kills her with her gun while Bethany hits Georgia on the head from behind, and that brings the fight to a close.
The movie ends a little while after the showdown at Halo Interiors. Desi has recovered and is meeting Bethany, Terrence, and Mila at the park. There, they come across Gavin and his mother, Cynthia. She wants to befriend them and is nervous about any hostility that Bethany might feel for her. Instead, they end up becoming friends, and Mila is glad to have Gavin back to play with again.