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Special Assignment: Black Market Babies?

Black Market Babies?

Landon Terry and Barbara Seeger say they too are victims of Bee Hamilton. Landon believes he was taken from his mother when he was one day old. Barbara says Hamilton threatened her into giving up her baby. Read and watch their stories:

News 12 at 6 o'clock, February 18, 2010

AUGUSTA---Hundreds of people are looking for answers after a News 12 investigation uncovered an alleged black market for babies in Augusta. It all centers around juvenile court judges and a court officer accused of selling children for a profit. Those children are now adults. A lot of them want to find their families. They want answers. They were too young to remember anything.

Others are trying to forget.

Bee Bee Ashley was an orphan the first time she saw "The Little Match Girl." She felt just like the girl she watched on television, only she wasn't selling anything. Bee Bee believes she was the one being sold. "When grown-ups came, they all sat in a circle and all us little kids were sitting on the floor like puppies," she remembers. "And they're sitting looking at you, if they want to take one of you home."

Bee Bee lived at a boarding house on Emmet Street in Augusta run by a woman named Elizabeth Hamilton, or Bee Hamilton as everyone called her. Bee Bee remembers her life there was all about impressing potential parents--Bee's customers.

Life was much different after business hours. "I remember black patent leather shoes and a red dress that had little rows of buttons that looked like apples up here. And they'd take that off and then all the toddlers would run around in their underwear. It was that bad," Bee Bee says.

Sleeping arrangements weren't any better, but at least Bee Bee got to be with her sister. "We slept at the head and there was two other ones that slept at the foot because they were small, and we were were small."

Bee Bee was also young. She was four or five at the time. Her sister was three or four. She doesn't have a lot of pictures, but she has a lot of memories even though she was so little. She remembers never having enough to eat and being forced to work. Bee Bee also says she and the other children "really only got a bath when grown-ups was coming to see us, and pick you out." One of those times, Bee Bee got noticed and Bee Hamilton struck a deal. "They got two for the price of one because they couldn't separate me and my sister."

So, Bee Bee and her sister left the boarding house for a life she hoped would be better: It wasn't. "I could have survived Bee Hamilton, but what the woman that raised me did to me was worse." Bee Bee says the girls weren't abused at the boarding house, but her adopted mother beat them until "blood run down your back. Then afterward, she'd take alcohol and rub the stuff all over your back and you'd be in a lot of pain. I don't know which was worse. The beating or the stinging."

This allegedly went on for years, but those scars have healed. Her emotional wounds, however, have not. Bee Bee says she never felt wanted. "The most important thing in this world is a family and feeling like you belong. And to feel loved. And if you don't have that," she says, crying, "you don't have nothing. No matter what. You just don't have nothing."

Justice is something else Bee Bee feels she's missing. Bee Hamilton and the judges she says were involved in her adoption, or sale, are all dead. Bee Bee thinks what happened to her and maybe hundreds others was a crime, and she says they should have paid. "She got money. Judge Hardin got money. Judge Woodward and all the lawyers and investigators. All of them should have went to jail. I don't mean some posh jail. I mean hard core jail. And I think they should have served their time there until they died of natural causes."

Bee Bee believes they all killed something in her. And like the "Little Match Girl," she will never get it back.

But Bee Bee says she wants to try to move forward. She hasn't spoken with her sister in a long time, but she wants to speak to others who also went through the same experience. She says meeting other people who remember life in a Bee Hamilton boarding house will help her. Maybe, she won't feel so alone.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Elaine Location: Anderson SC on Jul 11, 2012 at 08:39 AM
    I am looking for my sister she was a "black market baby taken from my mother". She was born in Augusta, Georgia August 5, 1959. Please contact me if anyone has infomation. Thanks.
  • by Sue Location: Homestead, Fl on Sep 7, 2011 at 02:33 AM
    Born 5/22/48 in Spartanburg, SC-adopted by Mary Jane and James Bulkley - Dr. Robert Leonard handled black market adoption for $7500. He specialized in SC adoptions for people in NY. Parents and Dr. have all passed away now.
  • by Tiffany Location: South Carolina on Jun 6, 2011 at 03:37 PM
    Thomas plunkett is my uncle but he is only one of four children and i hope one of the others see this post Jackie if you are out there we all would love to meet you, we have searched along time, you have 2 sisters, 1 is deceased, and 3 brothers, 1 is deceased.please contact us if you find this post and if anyone else has any info we are open to search it out.
  • by thomas b plunkett Location: pageland sc on May 16, 2011 at 05:11 PM
    in 1963 i was steve hamiton i was one of these black market babies., and i just found out this week, and i know how it feels not being able to find out who you really are, all because of bee hamilton.
    • reply
      by Cheryl Collins on May 19, 2011 at 08:21 AM in reply to thomas b plunkett
      I was also possibly one of these black market babies. I have someone in Richmond County Juvenile Court searching records for me to find out any additional info she can. I have all my adoption papers and the original signature of Bea Hamilton on my paper. My birth mother never signed off on it.
  • by John Location: Columbia County on Jan 8, 2011 at 07:33 PM
    I was born June 7,1964. I know my parents told me that they went to a motel room and about 1 hour later walked out with me.(strange) and this was supposed to be during the time Bea Hamilton was still in the black marketing. I know I love My parents but would really just like to know for medical reasons.
  • by Julie Location: Augusta on Oct 2, 2010 at 07:12 PM
    @Barbara, I am happy that you found your biological mother, thank & Praise be to God. I went to Dr. Frank Story as my OB/GYN and I never left that office without wondering why he would employ 'Jo' as his front office secretary. She was classless, and very rude to say the least. I see the ties now...if Jo was Bea Hamilton's bff, then she got connections through Dr. Story to girls that didn't want to have their babies or wanted to give them up and couldn't afford or have anywhere to turn and was scared. It all roles down hill from there. I wished they had been caught but political reasons probably stopped them because they were all in it together with Jo being a Judge, a doctor in the picture, police, secretaries...the whole kitten kaboodle. I am deeply disturbed by all of this. I pray that all of you reading this tell your grandparents or families and help them. God Bless
  • by Susan Location: Lawrenceville GA on Mar 24, 2010 at 09:02 AM
    There are more people who want to find than want to forget. Most of my reunions have been the best I could hope for. The problem is many birthmoms do not have computers from back in the day when this happened. There only source is broadcast news or a newspaper. There are hundreds of thousands of birthfamilies searching for one another. These black markets existed throughout the U.S. These and all other adoptees and birthparents most of the time were forced to relinquish. Without it being brought to the public many will never find without stories like this.
  • by joanNYadoptee Location: az on Mar 24, 2010 at 06:17 AM
    Hi, There are search groups to help people. I hope this story brings attention to those affected by this.Try signing up with and also is right on line, and can be checked right now. I hope more find from this story, that are involved in this Black Market babies. Dont forget DNA banks can help too. There is a Dna site for adoptees to do their dna and submit the results. Also parents who are not able to track where their child went. Siblings too can sign up with www.ISRR.NET and Joan
  • by Karen Location: Augusta Ga. on Mar 18, 2010 at 04:39 PM
    I have found my biological mom thanks to this news story that Meredith Anderson did on the 2/27/10 and I called her and got Barbara's number and GUESS WHAT???? She is my mom so believe and never give up looking or praying.
  • by Karen Location: Augusta Ga. on Feb 26, 2010 at 11:14 PM
    I am one of Bea Hamilton's Black Market Babies...My story is long and I will leave that for later because I just saw where Barbara Cooper is looking for her daughter and she was born in 1963 well my birthday is 3/27/1963 and my file is on the missing and like I said the story is really so long because Bea was my Grandma Jo's best friend ans her boss was my godfather and was a OBGYN so. I have looked and I was told I am a big figment of the imagination (they say in jokingly).But I really must find this Barbara Segal. My name is Karen and this is my e-mail...
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