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Local adoption victim feels like forgotten victim

PEPIN --- All Barb Harriman wanted was a chance.

For the last couple of months, Harriman's life has been turned upside down since she found out the baby Melissa Christiansen said she was going to get, never existed.

And as she watched Marie, Jen and Crissy, three other women who were also scammed out of a baby by Christiansen, get a chance to confront her on the "Dr. Phil" show, this past Thursday and Friday, while happy for the other three, she wanted her opportunity, too.

"Today was hard," Harriman spoke, fighting back tears after Friday's episode, the second of two she watched at the Pickle Factory in Pepin with approximately 10 other friends. "I was 16 miles away and a friend."

That's the catch in this situation. Marie, Jen and Crissy were three women who met Christiansen on the internet and live far away from Maiden Rock, where Melissa lives. Harriman had known Melissa for the last three to four years and lived only 16 miles away in Pepin.

"I'd love to have had the opportunity to face her because I haven't seen her since Dec. 6," Barb continued. "I have a stepson and a granddaughter, but it's not the same. I wanted to be a mom since I was 17 and now I'm 40."

Without question, the hardest scene for Barb to watch in the two-day show was the scene Friday when the three confronted Melissa.

"I should have been right there," she said. "Marie and I were being scammed the same week.

"How do you stab friends in the back?"

That's a question Shawnie Krogstad would also like to answer.

Krogstad (who no longer uses that last name) was also friends with Christiansen. While she wasn't an adoption victim, Krogstad was the alias Christiansen used to scam Jen (whose story was told in last week's Herald.)

"I would love to talk to her (Melissa)," said Shawnie. "And say why?"

Krogstad and Christiansen used to babysit each other's kids when the two lived in Maiden Rock (Krogstad now lives in Pepin). "I took my kids to her house and never worried about it," she added.

However, for all the horrible stuff that resulted of this, Krogstad said, one good thing that came out of this was that she and Barb are now friends once again. (The two weren't speaking until the news broke.)

"Absolutely," Krogstad said, when she was asked if right now this has been the best period of their friendship. "I've known her long enough and the crap she went through.

"I'm backing her 100 percent right now."

Among some of the memorable moments from the two-day show:

--Dr. Phil asking Melissa why she did what she did. Her response was she wanted to feel special for someone. Dr. Phil then responded that you crushed their hopes and dreams. Melissa's answer was she cried as hard as Crissy when she broke the news to her.

--Melissa saying she wasn't going to apologize to Jen because she didn't remember her. Furthermore, Melissa said she would apologize only to Crissy because she showed me "compassion and kindness."

--As Melissa and Crissy were talking in a back room of the "Dr. Phil" set, Crissy pleaded with Melissa to come out to where Marie and Jen and the rest of the studio audience were so they could talk to her, too. Melissa refused. Dr. Phil's response: "You like that don't you, not letting those two speak to you?"

--Dr. Phil to the three women in front of the studio audience: "If she had empathy, she'd be pleading and begging to talk to you."

--Melissa agreeing to hear Marie and Jen, not in front of the audience, only after the negative things about her would be taken down from Marie's Web site.

--Dr. Phil telling Melissa he would help her, to turn her life around for her and her son. "We'll get you the help you need."

Besides the Pickle Factory in Pepin, the only other known "Dr. Phil" viewing parties were at the Main Street Junction in Plum City and Furlong's Bar and Grill in Ellsworth.

Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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