I have always known I was adopted. My adoptive parents never tried to keep it a secret. Many
people in our neighborhood knew too, and told their children, who in turn, teased me constantly.
Going to school, I was taunted by children that I thought were my friends. They told me that my
mother gave me away because there was something wrong with me. Being too young to think of
any other reason, I believed them. Looking back now, I see myself as a shy, insecure, little girl,
who just wanted more than anything to fit in, and to be like everyone else.
As I grew up, questions began to surface: Why were my adoptive parents listed as the birth
parents on my birth certificate? Why were there no court records for me to look through? Where
was the consent to adopt from my birth mother? Why did no one want to talk about it? Who was
I and how did I get here?
My mom would tell me the same story over and over. She flew to Miami and went to a woman's
house in Coral Gables. Ruby gave her the baby (me) and would not tell her anything about the
birth mother except that she was a young college student studying art and music. This story never
made any sense to me. Where did Ruby get me from? Why was she handing out babies? Who
delivered me? Why didn't I have a birth certificate like everyone else's? There were no answers
Vacationing in Florida in my mid-twenties, I decided to look for myself. I remember driving down
the street in Miami that was listed as place of birth on my birth certificate. I got out and found the
exact address, only to see that the clinic was long gone. I sat down on the sidewalk and cried. The
only other name on the certificate was Katherine M. Cole, listed as a witness to the birth. I had no
idea who she could be and could not locate her. My search seemed to be at an end even before it
had started. Several years later, relatives vacationing in Florida spoke to Ruby's daughter and she
gave them the name of another adoptee who had come looking. I took her number, but didn't call
her because I was told that she didn't find anything either. For many years, I tried my best to forget
about the whole thing, but the empty feeling never went away.
One night, my husband and I saw another adoptee being interviewed on tv. Rob called her and
told her about me. She asked where I had been born. Rob told her that I was born in Miami. She
then asked if the name Katherine M. Cole was on my birth certificate. Astonished, Rob told her
that it was and she then said that I was known as a Cole baby. We had never heard that term
before. We later learned that Cole ran one of the biggest black market adoption rings in the
country from 1927 to 1963 in Miami, Florida. I was in shock for about 2 weeks. Black market
adoptees are sold to their adoptive parents by unscrupulous doctors, lawyers, and other
individuals. My parents had never mentioned paying money for me. I confronted my mom about
this, and she admitted that yes, they did have to pay for me. It made no difference to me. I was
happy to finally have some information. I was no longer nobody…I was a Cole baby! I ran to the
phone and called the girl whose number I had kept all those years. She told me there had been
articles written about Cole babies in the Miami Herald 5 years prior, sent me copies, and gave me
the names of some other Cole babies.
Knowing there were others, I decided to track them down. Armed with my list of Cole babies, I
hunted the internet registries for more. I wrote letters, and made phone calls. 3 weeks later, I had
my own list of Cole babies, and decided we needed a place to come together. Hence, the birth of
the Cole Baby Registry on the internet. I was dismayed to learn that many people did not know
about black market adoptions: the sale of babies for profit. I found several other black market
adoptees on the internet who were not adopted through Cole. They felt that they really didn't fit
into the existing registries due to the lack of information about their births. My friends Susan and
Peggy have put up a new registry for all black market adoptees, which Susan now runs. I have
also started a black market mailing list for anyone touched by black market adoption. The list is
comprised of black market adoptees, registry owners, birth mothers, siblings, and other relatives
looking for people lost in black market adoption. Typical letters come in saying things like: " I
thought I was alone, but now I know there are others like me. Thank you." It is a healing place for
many of us, myself included. I enjoy helping other people and it has made me feel very good
inside. I have met so many wonderful people online since I started this and it is through their love,
hard work, and support, that we are finally getting our message across.
Cole is alleged to have destroyed her records after leaving behind an estimated 1,000 adoptees
who have only her falsified birth certificates to attest to their existance. Most of us were never
legally adopted. There is no paper trail to follow, no court records to petition, no agency to
request information from. The only chance we have to find our birth families and for them to find
us, is if someone comes forward with information. People now know we are searching, and if they
are looking too, it will be easy for them to find us at last.
The sale of babies is both immoral and illegal. Through my list, we are trying to get media attention
to the plight of black market adoptees and hope to educate the public so that better laws can be
passed to punish those caught selling babies for profit. Sadly, this practice still continues to this
day. Please help us to spread our message in any way you can, so that the children of tomorrow
are never faced with the same emptiness and years of searching that we are going through.