Black Market Adoption by M. Haviland
Black market adoption is the sale of babies for profit. The phrase conjures up images of back alleys and illegal payments. A look back in history give us an insight as to how black market adoption got started in this country.
In the early 1900ís, private secular and religious groups began the permanent residential care of orphaned children, but were ill equipped to handle the multitude of Americaís orphans. By the 1920ís, social changes and the absence of state run orphanages provided fertile ground for the emergence of black market adoption as a means to place babies with adoptive parents.
From elite maternity homes to the back doors of private doctorsí offices, babies began to be sold in great numbers by unscrupulous doctors, attorneys, and other individuals. Word quickly spread in cities all over the country: if you wanted to adopt a baby in a short amount of time, one could be obtained for you, for a fee of anywhere from $100 to $10,000, no questions asked. Faced with long waiting lists and sometimes outright rejection from established agencies, many tens of thousands of couples chose to buy a baby on the black market.
Many doctors still delivered babies in their offices and records were easily falsified. Most states even allowed certain information to be changed. Society knew of the existence of the black market baby trade, but little was done to stop it. Many of the baby sellers are now deceased, but they have left behind thousands of adoptees with little or no information to aid them in their searches for their birth families.
A typical black market adoption might work like this: a young, unmarried pregnant woman paid a fee to stay with the doctor until she gave birth. Once the baby was born, she was free to return home with no one the wiser as to why she had gone away on "vacation." The doctor would then, usually unbeknownst to the birth mother, sell the baby to adoptive parents. Perhaps these parents would be given a birth certificate, filled out by the doctor, listing them as the birth parents so there would be no need for a legal adoption, and the sale could never be traced. Other details on the birth certificate may have been changed also as to date of birth, and place of birth. If the adoptive parents insisted on legal adoption, some doctors provided falsified birth mothersí consents as well. Another method of black market adoption involved the birth mother checking into the hospital under the adoptive motherís name so that all subsequent records of mother and child would be listed under the adoptive momís name. Many adoptees were sold by these methods to loving parents, but since no background checks were done, some were exposed to physical, psychological, and sexual abuse as a result. The doctors, attorneys, and other individuals became rich. The adoptive parents were happy to complete their families with a new baby and the birth mothers were free to get on with their lives. Everyone was happy -- until the adoptees grew up and birth mothers and adoptees began to search for each other.
Whatever the method, black market adoptions have left little or nothing in the way of a paper trail for those now searching.Adoptive parents are frequently the best source of information, sometimes having met the birth mother beforehand, and certainly knowing where and when they went to pick up their baby. Adoptees should attempt to gather as much information as possible before beginning their search. In some cases, there are already others adopted from the same source who can provide information to a new searcher. Some of the already established groups include Cole babies, Hicks babies, Bessie babies, Dr. Mary babies, Butterbox babies, and Springer babies. Black market adoptees should use all established methods for obtaining information, but cannot take anything for granted as details were so often changed, deleted, or missing altogether. They should be aware that documents such as birth certificates and consent forms were often falsified, even in so-called legal adoptions. Black market adoptees do have successful searches, but they are made much more difficult by the lack of reliable information.
The first place any adoptee should register is with the International Soundex Reunion Registry by mail. Support groups can also play a large roll in helping black market adoptees who are searching, by providing them with a means to access information, support, and search tips. The internet has fast become one of the best means of sharing information, and a new registry has opened online just for black market adoptions. Adoptees should attempt to register with as many free online registries as they can, keeping records of where they have posted in case they move or change their e-mail address. Guestbooks and bulletin boards can also be utilized to post information.
Sadly, black market adoptions still continue to this day. Couples are waiting too long to conceive naturally. There are many thousands of foreign orphans available for adoption and our society no longer carries the social stigma of adopting a baby of a different race or ethnic background. Our government has a system devoted to foster care rather than the permanent placement of orphans. All these factors keep black market baby sellers in business. The sale of babies for profit is both immoral and illegal. It is the opinion of the author, that only by educating the public, can black market adoptions be stopped. Unless we do so, we condemn another whole generation to years of emptiness, lack of identity, and fruitless searches.
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