Authorities in Iowa say Miriam Simon violated state regulations when she adopted the baby of one of her former patients. The Iowa Board of Nursing forbids nurses from initiating an emotional, social, or business relationship with a patient for personal gain even if the patient consents. The board also said that Simon violated patient confidentiality in the process of adopting the child.
The violation allegedly occurred in September 2021 when Simon was working in the obstetrics unit at Decorah’s Winneshiek Medical Center. While the nurse was caring for a woman and her newborn son, Simon allegedly “engaged in conversations” with the woman and asked her if she planned on keeping her baby or putting him up for adoption.
The baby, whose name is Ezra, was eventually adopted by Simon and her husband, Travis. He is now 17 months old and in good health.
But the board says Simon was the one who “initiated” efforts to adopt the child, but Simon said that’s not accurate. The nurse said that after raising seven children on her own, she had no interest in adopting another child until Ezra’s birth mother reached out to her on Facebook and suggested it.
“The mother reached out to me after he was born,” Simon said. “This hospital for some reason had both my first and last name on my name badge, and she later told me that’s how she was able to get in touch with me. She said, ‘I wrote down your first and last name because we had a really good connection, and I just really liked you.’”
Simon explained that the birth mother was in the U.S. on a visa while attending school. If she dropped out, she risked being deported, but she was nervous about raising a child as a student living in a dormitory.
“So, she asked me, ‘Would you consider adopting?’” Simon said. “And I was, like, ‘No, no, no, I have seven children, and my seventh is eight years old, and we are done.’”
After discussing the issue with her husband, Simon eventually agreed to adopt Ezra.
Several months later, Simon was at work when she told one of her colleagues that she was tired and had forgotten what it was like to have an infant at home. She then explained to her colleague that she adopted a former patient’s baby. That’s when her co-worker “flipped,” Simon explained. The other nurse told Simon that had crossed a line and violated federal patient privacy laws.
The hospital then terminated her contract. Seven months later, Simon said she got a call from an investigator with the Iowa Board of Nursing.
Simon said she tried to explain to the board that she adopted the child out of a desire to help both the patient and the child. “They were just, like, ‘Well, you can’t do that.’”
She said the board made it seem like she had taken advantage of the mother by adopting her child. “She’s Hispanic and she’s here on an international visa, and so the Board of Nursing used that, like, saying she was an illegal immigrant, and I took advantage of her. And I was, like, ‘She has her master’s, this woman is highly educated, she’s more educated than I am.’”
Simon eventually agreed to settle the charges for $25,000. She also agreed to undergo 30 hours of training on patient privacy and professional boundaries and ethics.
She said she talks to Ezra’s birth mother every night when she puts him to sleep, so the three of them can connect via FaceTime.
“And never did I stop to think that, like, I was doing something wrong,” Simon said. “The hurt lies in that they made me feel like a predator. What was meant to be beautiful turned quickly into stress and anxiety.”