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America Has A Black» Market In Babies
By A Staff Correspondent
In New York
AMERICANS are disturbed at ~ revelations of the extent of "babies for-sale" rackets.
LAW enforcement auth- orities are waging war on this racket throughout the country; but because of
the victims' reluctance to talk, the racket still goes on.
The racketeers-and their associates in the medical and legal professions-find money in two ways.
• There are many child- less couples in the United States, as everywhere else, who want children so desper- ately that they will pay hea- vily, and ask no questions, if a healthy baby is found for
. Unmarried mothers, who have at first gratefully ac- cepted this solution to their problem, become easy sub- jects for blackmail-especi- ally when they do marry and fear that their secret will be
Here is a case history, as it was told to me in a District Attorney's office in this city. It is typical of thousands of other cases, but the people in it are real.
The names given to me were Jean, the mother, and Frank, the father (who was married to another woman when their child was born, though subsequently they were married). This is their
THE girl had contemplated
an abortion, expensive and dangerous though it might be. Eventually she had made a confidant of a girl she worked with, who was married and had children of
"Don't worry, dear," this girl had said. "I know some- body who can help you." And she took Jean along to see her "friend." The "friend" col- lected a 100-dollar (£44) fee -and put her in touch with "my lawyer."
The man was a lawyer all right, and an astute one. He had an impressive office in an impressive building right op- posite the office of the Dis- trict Attorney where I heard Jean's story.
It was all very simple, the lawyer said when he had the
facts. He knew a farm 150 miles away, owned by a doc- tor and his wife. Jean would find she could trust them. Their barn was a well equipped hospital. The moment the baby was born the doctor-he had a long list of people waiting for babies would deliver it to one of them.
The foster parents would be a fine couple, who would take good care of the child. They would pay all the expenses, the doctor's fee and the law- yer's.
"And there'll be a thousand dollars in it for you," the law- yer added.
To Jean the solution looked wonderful. She agreed to go to the farm. All went through as planned and in due time she came back to work, suntanned and refreshed after her long "vacation in the country."
Frank and Jean were mar- ried. And then the trouble began.
Of his first marriage, Frank had had no children. He
had not been married long to Jean when he began to hint that it was a pity they hadn't got the baby. Was it a boy or a girl? She did not know, for she had never seen it.
Steadily, Jean's own doubts grew. And the day came, as it mostly does, when her long- ing became great. She wanted her baby back, even if it meant giving up the thousand dollars she had been paid.
Then it was that she dis- covered new facets to her lawyer, who once had seemed such a heaven-sent benefactor. "Impossible!" he said when she went to see him. The couple who took the child had left the district and he didn't know where they were.
Frank and Jean felt better about it when they discovered that there was to be another baby. And Jean more or less forgot her longing for the first- born. Until one day the tele- phone rang and a husky voice dropped hints that scared her half out of her wits.
The caller knew all about
the disposal of her baby. She realised it was a crime, didn't she? It happened that he (the man on the wire) was short of money just now, and a hundred dollars would be of great help. They paid.
That was only the start. They went on paying, for years -until finally, driven to de- spair, Jean went to the police, and another sordid story of the baby blackmarket reached the desk of the District Attor- ney.
New "Ring" Found In New York
ring very similar to the one into whose clutches Jean fell has just been uncovered in New York. Thirty-six-year old Aaron B. Z. Silver, As- sistant District Attorney and himself a father of three children, spent all his time for more than two years working on the case. And last week he told "The Sunday Herald" all about it. His work has re- sulted in a Grand Jury indict- ment of a Brooklyn lawyer and in revelations of the ex- tent of the racket.
The ring operated, Mr. Silver said, precisely as in Jean's case. There was the shady lawyer who managed everything. There was the "private hospital" on the re- mote farm.
"One of the cases we un- covered," Mr. Silver revealed, "concerns a girl who parted with her baby that way and then wanted it back, only to be told that the child had died. She was shown a photograph of a tombstone with her child's name on it. Actually the baby had not died, but an-
other had-and had been buried under a false name.
"There was a case of a girl who, though married, was not living with her husband in the accepted sense of the term. He and she occupied separate rooms. She became pregnant and, incredible as it seems, concealed it all through from her husband.
"She had her baby alone in her room-with her husband
asleep in the next room. She did everything for herself and when her husband left for work she got up, took the baby and got in touch with the blackmarket. To this day, her husband does not know. What a subject she made herself for blackmail!"
ONLY a few months ago
it became apparent that the blackmarket had inter- national implications. After the arrest in Toronto, Canada, of a New York couple and a Canadian doctor, the Canadian police charged that at least 20 Canadian babies had been illegally exported into the United States in three months and sold like slaves on the blackmarket there.
Mr. and Mrs. Jack Chinder were detained on the Toronto airport as they were about to board a plane for New York. With them was a baby boy, a week old, in a wicker basket. They were charged with obtaining a birth certificate by fraud. - "This thing is bigger than it looks," commented a detective-sergeant, in a guarded reference to the ring's operations on a conti-
Arrested the same day on charges of making false state- ments was Dr. Joseph S. Chaikoff, of Toronto. The police stated that Mr. and Mrs. Chinder had paid 400 dollars (£176) for the child.
This case-unlike most on the blackmarket-had a happy ending. Dr. Chaikoff cleared himself on appeal against a 500-dollar (£220) fine, and the Chindcrs, too, whose motives were above suspicion, also won acquittal and are now in process of adopting the baby in legal form.
Many victims of the callous racketeers who have driven them almost to desperation and taken thousands of dollars from them envy the Chinders.
It is not only the unwed mothers who find themselves the victims of . blackmailers. Often it is the adopting parents too-with the mother on the blackmailing end.
Couples have found that a year or so after they took the child, and have grown to love it dearly, the mother pretends to have changed her mind. And since the adoption is not an adoption at all in the law's eyes, and they dare not let the facts come out, they are in no position to object when she battens on them year after
Babies-any nation's most valuable natural resource are in tremendous demand. There simply are not enough to go around. It is a seller's market. But what about the child himself? How does he suffer if he is taken in by parents whose desire for a child is strong enough to turn them to illicit means to obtain one?
Mr. Silver pointed out that there were other factors in the many-sided viciousness of the baby blackmarkct not readily appreciated by the public.
"There was one child I know of," he said, "both of
whose real parents had 'at some time been in mental institutions. In the right sort of home that child would have a chance. Had he been pro- perly adopted, through a reputable agency, he would have been placed with a couple of calm, level-headed character, who would have known his background.
"The luck of the game on the under-the-counter market landed him with precisely the wrong sort of people: them- selves highly strung and ner- vous. In the end, he was taken away from them fortunately."
Grand Jury's Figures
THE New York Grand
Jury which has been look- ing into the babies-for-sale racket since October, 1951, has handed up a presentment
to the County Court. It reveals that some 100 cases like that of Jean and Frank have been discovered and that doctors, nurses, lawyers, and go-betweens were skill- fully organised to carry on thc traffic smoothly and un- obtrusively.
One of the causes of the racket's existence, said the Grand Jury, was a widespread lack in the United States of proper pre-natal care. "Many unmarried mothers," the jurors reported to Judge Louis Gold stein, "were thrust into the
blackmarket because they could not find suitable lying-in pre-natal care."
A prominent lawyer is now under formal indictment as the kingpin of one of America's largest baby blackmarket rings. It is alleged that he operated in conjunction with a doctor now dead.
How much did he make out of it? 1 asked Mr. Silver.
"Plenty!" he replied. "Fees paid on the blackmarket in this case ran from 2,500 dol- lars (£1,100) to 5,000 dollars (£2,200). The lawyer drew 1,000 dollars a time, and in two years handled at least-a hundred cases that we know of. Fifty thousands dollars a year! I believe it was more,
a good deal more." - j
The worst aspect of the racket, the authorities main- tain, is the impact on the children themselves. In most cases the people who take them never adopt them legally, for they dare not. Sometimes "parents" change their minds and pass the child along to anybody who will take him. Cases are known where a baby has changed hands half a dozen times.
When the child has grown up he will need a birth certi- ficate, for any of a variety of reasons. He cannot get one. If he has one the details are fictitious and may land him in grave trouble. When his "parents" die, can he inherit?
The trail of heart-ache that starts with a frightened girl's
desperate efforts to conceal
her shame seems to have no
Victims of the
baby blackmar ket, Jack Chin- der, of New York, Dr. J. S. Chaikoff, o f Toronto, and Mrs. Chinder have been cleared in court.