Montreal Black Market Babies
We are ( From left to right on photo ) Donna Roth of Ann Arbor, Michigan ( born Aug. 17, 1946 ), Esther Segal of Vancouver ( born Jan.7, 1946 ), and Sharon Edelson of Ottawa ( born Nov. 7, 1944 ).
Many among us have struggled for years to find any information regarding our adoption and heritage. Secrets abounded; fantasies took the place of truth, and many of our adoptive parents harbored concern about our questions and the real answers. In each of us some level of curiosity flourished and it was just a matter of time before this curiosity took on a collective energy.
As members of CANADopt, an Internet group that supports all members of the adoption triad, we share information, compassion and resources in this area. With the Butterbox Babies (Ideal Maternity Home) story evolution, several of us began to apply the similarities from that story to ours. Also, Hicks Babies in Tennessee (featured in People Magazine in March 1998) added fuel to each of our adoption-story repertoires.
The City of Montreal along with Jewish adoptive parents are common to each of us. Early in 1997, through a search of the Montreal Gazette archives, several articles emerged about a baby market ring (see bottom of page for list of articles) that existed in the 1940s & 50s. Babies were being sold to Jewish couples in Canada and the States. These infertile Jewish couples were desperate to have children. Payments for babies ranged from $1500 to $10,000. Furthermore, adoption of a non-Jewish baby was not acceptable in Quebec as in many places in that era. This was a major eye-opener for all of us.
Through CANADopt some of us starting noticing Jewish surnamed members who were born in Montreal in the 1940s & 50s. We started approaching each other with details about our adoptions. Names and places related to doctors, lawyers and birth clinics were the same. Excitement, added to our growing curiosity, mounted. Most of us appear to have been designated as "Jewish" whether we were or not. Many of us have papers that are similar but inconsistent within the legal realm of adoption.
- Action seemed to be the next step. Determined to get some information and certain of the strength of numbers, several of us (about 16 initially) loosely organized and sent information to social services agencies. As has been the case for most of our lives, the few responses indicated that no information was available. However, we had found each other.
Around Mother's Day weekend in 1998, several of us met in Montreal. We made arrangements for an interview with Ingrid Peritz, reporter for The Montreal Gazette. Two of us were interviewed on Montreal AM, a local TV morning show. And we met with Pat Danielson, our Montreal Parent Finders angel. It was an intense, but amazingly glorious weekend. Three of us visited the clinic neighborhood, Esplanade and Laval Streets. We even coerced a young fellow to take our picture in front of what may be one of our birthplaces ( see photo ).
From this flurry of activity, we have encouraged others to come forward. We have had several other interviews. And several of us remain in contact, sharing inspiration, information and the joys and heartaches of our personal lives.
It is a wonder to have found one another. We may not find birth families, but we will always be Birth Buddies. This is a kind of human relationship that brings a special gratification, understanding and fondness that may supplant the joy of finding one's birth family. This is joy most of us will not experience. But, we are the Birth Buddies. We support and enjoy each other.
Does the Birth Buddies experience sound familiar to you? If you have any information about the people or places involved, or if you'd like more information, you can write to the Montreal Black Market Birth Buddies or, for more information about other black market baby rings and survivors, visit the site of the Black Market Adoptee Registry.
*** Update ***
Donna Roth, one of the 'Montreal Black Market Babies' has recently been reunited with her birth family (winter 1999). Congratulations Donna!
History of Related Montréal Newspaper Articles
Finders Montréal / Text © 1998
Source for Newspaper Article list: André Desaulniers