Child Adoption Safeguards

November 9, 1951

Report Outline
Abuses and Shortcomings in Child Adoption
Methods of Safeguarding Adoptions
Aid and Counsel for Unmarried Mothers
Activity of Citizen Committees on Adoption

Abuses and Shortcomings in Child Adoption

Exposure of Lucrative Black Markets in Babies

An extensive black market in babies for adoption, centering in New York City with connections in Maryland, Massachusetts, and as far a field as Florida, appears to have been uncovered by recent grand jury investigations. Indictments returned in New York on Nov. 1 named a Brooklyn lawyer as leader of a ring accused of selling babies of unmarried mothers to childless couples for amounts ranging up to $4,500. The same lawyer had been named in indictments returned in Massachusetts on Sept. 17 and in Maryland on Oct. 15, Others indicted by one or more of the grand juries included five doctors, the wife of one of them, two nurses, a hospital superintendent, and a medical supplies salesman. The ring was alleged to have grossed $500,000 in four years. Its leader was accused, in addition to procuring babies, of arranging to legalize their adoption by perjured testimony in an upstate New York court.

The recent indictments follow a series of postwar exposures that has revealed the existence of a far-reaching baby traffic and disclosed the methods by which it is carried on. In 1946 the United Hospital Fund of New York City found that unscrupulous lawyers were establishing contacts with hospital nurses, who would inform them of ‘the birth of children out of wedlock. Gaining entrance to a mother's room, the lawyers would obtain her consent to relinquishment when she was in no physical condition to give it. Evidence was found also that at least three teams of doctors were working in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx in connivance with hospital personnel to obtain newborn children directly from the nursery for adoption.

In November 1950 a New York lawyer was convicted of transporting infants from Miami for adoption in the New York area by couples who paid up to $2,000 for a baby. Using newspaper advertisements to contact women pregnant out of wedlock, the lawyer agreed to pay their maintenance and hospital bills and confidentially place their infants with “friends” who wished to adopt children. Infants were usually whisked from the hospital to air or rail terminals.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Adoption and Foster Care
Dec. 06, 2011  International Adoption
Apr. 22, 2005  Child Welfare Reform
Sep. 10, 1999  Adoption Controversies
Jan. 09, 1998  Foster Care Reform
Nov. 26, 1993  Adoption
Sep. 27, 1991  Foster Care Crisis
Dec. 11, 1987  Independent Adoptions
Nov. 16, 1984  Issues in Child Adoption
Jun. 27, 1973  Child Adoption
Nov. 09, 1951  Child Adoption Safeguards