News 12 at 11 o'clock / Thursday, September 23, 2010
AUGUSTA---For more than a year now, News 12 has been investigating an alleged black market for babies in Augusta. Our stories aren't just uncovering the past. They're giving people futures with family they never thought they'd find.
Since airing our first story, News 12 has received hundreds of phone calls from all over the country. Two of those calls were from Augusta women. One was looking for her mother; the other was looking for her daughter. After some detective work, I realized they were looking for each other.
"I've been busy as a beaver today," Faye Stringfellow laughs. "I've shampooed my carpet, bedroom, living room. Mopped my bathroom. I've been so busy." Faye is preparing her house, and she's preparing food. But her heart? That's been ready to meet her child for years. She says she's waited ever since she willingly gave her daughter up for adoption. "I didn't know it was a girl. They never let me know what she was. "
How much does it cost to use the registry? (Source)
What if I don't want to be contacted by the party searching for me? (Source)
"The Reunion Registry cannot release identifying information without written consent of the person being sought or a court order. If you want to protect your right to privacy, you must file an Affidavit of Non-Disclosure with the Adoption Reunion Registry. If there is a court hearing, you may be contacted if you have not filed this affidavit."
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The Reunion Registry is now offering In-Depth Individual Consultation Services, either in person or on the phone, to:
As fate would have it, Faye's daughter only lives five minutes away. All this time, she's been so close, but so far.
Faye is standing on her front porch when Valerie Robinson pulls up. It's emotional for both of them to see each other. Immediately, they recognize some physical similarities. They both wear glasses. They are both roughly about the same height. Neither one stands five feet tall. After a hug and some deep breaths, Faye and Valerie venture inside. They have a lot of celebrating to do. They also have a lot of catching up to do, starting with how Valerie ended up with her adopted family.
"I really didn't think this was going to happen," confesses Valerie. "Because I had been told stories. So many stories."
Then, she saw our stories.
News 12 has investigated case after case of questionable adoptions. Some claim they were sold. Some claim their babies were stolen. Most of these cases seem to have one thing in common: Richmond County juvenile court officer Elizabeth Hamilton, known as "Bee".
Valerie was watching and wondering. Could Bee Hamilton have taken her and sold her? She contacted News 12, and we went to work. We put her in touch with the Georgia Adoption Reunion Registry.
Meanwhile, Faye was watching News 12 too, and when she got a packet in the mail from the registry, she picked up the phone. Faye wanted to know about the paperwork they sent her. As I was answering her questions, I couldn't help but think of Valerie. Could this be her mom? I had a feeling she was, so I did some digging...and my feeling was right.
Just a few days after we put them in touch, they met for the first time. "I tell ya. I'm so happy to see you," Faye said as she looked at Valerie. "I'm glad you're ok."
Valerie says the Georgia Adoption Reunion Registry confirmed they are mother and daughter. Their search has ended, but this is a new beginning. "When I saw Faye, I was - I knew. it was undescribeable. It was awesome," she said.
Even meeting Faye and knowing Faye gave her up for adoption, Valerie still has questions, the answers to which she thinks Bee took to her grave. Valerie was adopted twice. She might never know what happened and how, but that's okay. "It's nice to have a connection with someone rather than being all alone."
Faye is happy to be connected too. "Well, she's got a smile like me, but I think my nose is bigger than hers," she laughs. "But it don't matter really." All that matters to Faye is that "I'm her mother, and that's the way it's going be the rest of my life."
Faye and Valerie wanted to tell their story and wanted to share their first meeting in hopes they will be able to reunite another family out there. Who knows? It seems every time we air one of these stories, lives change for the better.
This the second mother and daughter we've reunited. After we started investigating Bee Hamilton, the Georgia Adoption Reunion Registry got busier. Investigators there will probably have even more calls now. News 12 has given their contact information to hundreds of people already.
Basically, the Georgia Adoption Reunion Registry is a state agency that finds families, and they're good at what they do. There is a $300 fee for their services, but they don't want to turn anyone away, so they will work with you on the price.
Valerie says it was worth every penny. She says feeling connected to someone is priceless.
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