Meredith Anderson">

Special Assignment: Black Market Babies?

News 12 at 11, November 19, 2009

It sounds more like a movie than real life: a juvenile court officer and a judge steal babies and sell them all over the country. But, some say this drama really happened in Augusta, and it played out for years.

News 12 started investigating these alleged black market babies when a North Augusta Public Safety officer came to us, claiming to be one. He believes hundreds, maybe thousands, others just like him are out there, and he says all of them deserve answers.

Landon Terry and Barbara Seeger sit on the same couch, but they represent very different sides of the same past. "I've never actually met a mother looking for their child," says Landon. Barbara looks at him and replies "I will never give up." Barbara's never met a child looking for his mother, at least not one like Landon. He thinks he may have been ripped from his mother and sold to his adoptive parents.

Barbara reaches across the couch and grabs his hand "I know you loved your parents," she says. "Oh, I did," Landon answers. "That's still my mom and dad. I just have a lot of unanswered questions."

Both of them do.

They might look like old friends, but this is the first time Landon and Barbara have ever met. After Landon came to News 12 with his story, we came across a post of a woman looking for her daughter. She wrote her baby "was taken by county juvenile department," so we tracked her down. She was living in North Carolina. Turns out, her daughter was born in 1963, the same year as Landon. Like Landon's birth mother, she never took her baby home.

"There was a cop, more than once, standing outside that hospital, waiting for you to walk out that door with that baby, if you did not sign those papers," remembers Barbara.

Those papers gave her child to the Richmond County juvenile court and to a woman named Bee Hamilton. She's the same woman whose name is all over Landon's adoption documents, "plus, you know, copies of bills that Bee sent. That one additional bill like, you know, I got another bill from the hospital. could you pay this for me please?"

But it wasn't just Landon's hospital bills that went to Bee directly. News 12 found the transcript of a 1955 court hearing in Miami that explored adoption. A lot of the adopted kids came from women who lived at boarding houses. Bee was collecting money to pay rent for these girls, but the cash may have never left her pocket. A Mrs. Epps, who ran one of these houses, testified she never saw any.

Mr. Mitler: You never received any money from Miss Hamilton for these cases ?

Mrs. Epps. No, sir.

Mr. Mitler: So that if any money was paid to her, it did not get to you?

Mrs. Epps: Nothing.

But, it looks like Hamilton was getting that money. This is a bill, read in that same courtroom :

Judge Harry A. Woodward, $250 fees for filing temporary adoption papers, et cetera. Miss Elizabeth B. Hamilton, $165 board for 11 months in a boarding home at $15 a month.

The judge mentioned here, Judge Woodward, is one of Bee's supposed partners in crime. His wallet was getting fat during these adoptions too. He had bills of his own. Here is more testimony from the 1955 hearing: "Normally, it was around $250 or $300, even though he did not act in any way as a private attorney for them." Another person testified, "the fee ranged from $100 to $300, and in some cases it was more."

Judge Woodward died in 1969. He had retired the year before, but rumor has it, he wasn't the only judge in on Hamilton's scheme. Both Landon and Barbara believe other judges, including one who handled both of their cases, were involved. Landon's tried to get people to talk about it, but no one will give him any concrete answers, although one judge tried to help.

Landon "went in one day and was talking to his secretary and I said, do you know anything about the bee Hamilton babies? And, they all started laughing, and the judge knew my dad well, and said come on back here."

He showed Landon a book with the names of adopted children. In it, he read "Baby Boy Cooper, October 17, 1963." That's the name and date on all of Landon's adoption records. He made a copy of the page, but wonders what other records are out there.

Barbara wonders too. She's tried to leave a letter for her daughter at the hospital where she was born in case she ever wants to know her medical history, but there is no place to put it. "The man told me that there's probably not a file there. She will never be able to find that because there's no file for that to go into."

Landon's young daughter, Vivian, is a main reason he wants to find his parents. Being a father has suddenly made finding his own that much more important. "I've got a lot of unanswered questions. I'm like you Barbara). I'd like to know."

There's a lot of things Barbara would like to know, but most important to her is that her daughter ended up with a good life despite this bad situation. "She might say I don't have the right to know, but I really would like to know that she is safe, and that she was loved, that by not fighting back, I did the right thing."

But she is fighting back now by looking for her, trying to get those answers. Plus, she has new hope after meeting a new friend. Landon does too.

Bee hamilton died in 1988, so Barbara and Landon worry she took a lot of answers with her to her grave. They are hoping, though that by telling their story, somebody will remember something and maybe help them or other alleged black market babies.


You must be logged in to post comments.

Username:
Password (case sensitive):
Remember Me:

Read Comments

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Romany Location: Uruguay on Dec 27, 2011 at 12:49 PM
    With crimes committed and records destroyed, the best thing the government can do is set up a DNA database (similar to the one they have in Argentina) to reunite families separated by Bee Hamilton.
  • by Shocked on Jun 4, 2011 at 05:12 PM
    my baby was stollen too! I will never give up! someday more people like me will get a voice and get answers.. I was in a halfway house too and so was my friend. She was murdered and my baby was stollen. no lie! I can show you paper to prove what I am screaming. A couple from an adoption agency has my child. I have their still born. HELP!
  • by FAY Location: AUGUSTA on May 5, 2010 at 08:45 PM
    I HAVE FIVE FEMALE COUSINS THAT WERE TAKEN FROM MY AUNT BACK IN THE 70'S, BY BEE HAMILTON.MY AUNT WENT TO HER GRAVE THINKING THAT ONE DAY HER DAUGHTERS WOULD BE RETURNED TO HER.SHE CRIED DAY AND NIGHT.THEY WERE HER LIFE.BEE HAMILTON RETURNED HER THREE BOYS BACK AFTER A FEW MONTHS BUT KEPT THE GIRLS.THE YOUNGEST GIRL WAS 2YRS AND I THINK THE OLDEST MAY HAVE BEEN 7 OR 8..MY PARENTS ASKED IF FAMILY MEMBERS COULD TAKE THEM AND SHE TOLD US NO..THEIR NAMES AT BIRTH WERE JANICE,PEGGY,PAM,WANDA,AND PENNY.I THINK THE BROTHERS HAVE FOUND TWO OF THEM.PAM AND PENNY.THE OTHERS NO ONE HAS HEARD FROM OR KNOWS WHERE THEY ARE AT.WOULD LOVE TO SEE THEM.
  • by Roberta Location: Spartanburg, S.C. on Apr 15, 2010 at 05:34 PM
    I know there's a guy out there who is my brother, born on June 14, 1964 in Spartanburg,S.C. and somehow ended up with other parents. He has made contact with us and mentioned a lot of people would be in trouble if he revealed who he was, even though other phone calls during the early part of the 90's as good as told us what my mom and my sisters have always known. Somehow my mom gets a dead baby to bury, we never get a birth or death certificate; nothing to be found on him whatsoever.....she always knew this baby we buried wasn't ours.......once the phone calls started coming in and a few weird things happened to me during my pregnancy and afterwards, we knew he was our brother. There is much more. My mom was laughed at and called crazy for telling her story to a select few. A private detective offered to help me, but I just don't have the money to pay him. He was smart, and believed our story after I revealed certain things. He called my mom several times, is a cop, and is J.T.
    • reply
      by Shocked on Jun 4, 2011 at 05:15 PM in reply to Roberta
      my baby was stollen too! I have been searching for him since 1998. I found him in 2001 and was almost killed. I made it out but my friend Darren Driggers didnt. sounds like a trident medical mix up!
  • by ricky Location: stapleton on Feb 19, 2010 at 09:00 AM
    i was adopted in 1968 my birthday is 12/31/68 doctors name was carol pryor in augusta ga born at st joseph hospital birth records is mostly blank only name on birth record is adopted father i dont know if im one of those children but if anyone had a child 12/31/68 boy or have any answers please contact me would like to find my famliy
  • by John Location: Augusta on Jan 24, 2010 at 08:18 AM
    I also three weeks ago found I was one of Bee Hamiltons children stolen and given to a family to raise. I was raised in a christian home by two wonderful parents but now have so many questions with noone able to tell me where I came from. I feel like with Bee being a employee of the city and state of Georgia they should be responsible to find answers for all of us. If anyone has any answers please let me know
  • by Theresa Location: Honeoye NY on Nov 21, 2009 at 12:34 PM
    My Mother says that she is one of her victims. In the mid 40's, she and her siblings were taken from their beds in he middle of the night. I keep scourin the internet looking for bit and pieces. I was over joyed to see that someone is listening to these people!
  • by ROSAMOND Location: AUGUSTA on Nov 21, 2009 at 07:51 AM
    IT'S JUST SO SAD THAT SOMETHING LIKE THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED !!!!MY PRAYERS ARE WITH YOU YOU ALL. THE GOOD THE GOOD THING IS THE LORD WILL TAKE CARE OF THESE EVIL PEOPLE,BETTER THAN WE CAN!!!EVEN IF A SPARROW FALLS TO THE GROUND THE LORD KNOWS; HOW MUCH MORE IS HE GOING TO CARE FOR YOUR LOVED ONES ? MY PRAYERS ARE WITH YOU ; GOD BLESS YOU
  • by TK3 on Nov 20, 2009 at 04:38 PM
    Not much has changed. Many still think the courts, judges and various government agencies and their personal are honest and can always be trusted. Best think again.
  • by Marion Location: Augusta on Nov 20, 2009 at 10:10 AM
    Best of luck to anyone seeking a Bee Hamilton baby. She destroyed all of her records, so as not to leave a paper trail. I found great difficulty in trying to help familes search out loved ones taken by Ms. Hamilton. She would take in children through the DFACS service of the time, and the youngest of the kids would never make it back home. Poor families had no way to fight it, and the legal system was corrupt. God bless everyone in their search. Maybe a website could be set up to help those involved search for each other?
    • reply
      by Shocked on Jun 4, 2011 at 05:17 PM in reply to Marion
      sounds like the alpha pregancy center and the chosen child adoption agency took over the south babies born into their terms.
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 newsroom@wrdw.com Fax: (803) 442-4561
Copyright © 2002-2016 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 70589432 - wrdw.com/a?a=70589432
Gray Television, Inc.