Hope Turns to Despair in Lifetime’s ‘The Hillsdale Adoption Scam’

The Hillsdale Adoption Scam (Credit: Lifetime)

Lifetime’s The Hillsdale Adoption Scam tells the harrowing story of a woman who gets targeted by scammers as she clings to the hope of expanding her family.

Keshia Knight Pulliam leads the cast as Bethany, a business owner, wife and mother whose foster son is returned to his birth mom. Bethany and her husband have a biological daughter, but they’ve been unable to have more children.

After sharing her story in an online chatroom, Bethany unexpectedly meets a pregnant woman named Georgia (Danika Frederick), who scams Bethany by claiming she plans to put her baby up for adoption.

“When you’re in that space of truly desiring a child, and having trouble having one, you want to find the ray of hope in anything that happens,” Pulliam said in a recent Zoom news conference.

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Unfortunately, that hope turns into a dangerous game of deceit when Bethany welcomes Georgia into her life and home.

The movie also stars Michael Strickland, David Tomlinson, and Lauren Cochrane. For Danika Frederick, playing con artist Georgia brought a fun challenge.

“I don’t go out for a lot of villains and this was very interesting,” Frederick said during the news conference.

“I think one of the things that I find so fascinating about playing the bad guy, or the villain, is that you have to justify what it is that makes them do what they do,” she added. “You have to find the emotion, but dissociate from it a bit, because I’m not crazy. But you have to find that within yourself and make it right and those choices come from pain and from hurt, and just being able to really lean into that.”

In real life, Frederick doesn’t have children. She admitted wearing a pregnancy pad for her role in the film was a little “weird.”

“I kind of found myself touching it like instinctively.” she said. “It was very cool. Very weird.”

Pulliam and her husband Brad James are expecting their first child together. The Cosby Show alum is already mom to daughter Ella, 5, from a previous marriage. The couple revealed in a March 11 Instagram post, that they will be welcoming a baby boy.

The team behind The Hillsdale Adoption Scam decided not to include Pulliam’s real-life pregnancy in the script, which led to some creative filming.

“I was very pregnant while we were doing this. So while they’re accentuating Danika in a fake belly, they’re trying to hide my real belly,” Pulliam said while laughing.

Inspired by real adoption scams, the movie is produced by The Cartel for Lifetime. Stan Spry, Eric Woods, Samantha DeGagne and Devan Towers are executive producers and Anthony Fankhauser producers. Asia Youngman directs from a script written by Justin D. James.

The Hillsdale Adoption Scam premieres Saturday, March 18 at 8/7c on Lifetime and streams the next day.