Welcome to a very special half hour, as we hear the remarkable stories of several adults who have found biological siblings many years after they were separated by adoption.
They’re known as Bee Hamilton babies, referring to the juvenile court officer at the time, Bee Hamilton, who died in 1988.
My stories with Bee Hamilton babies started in August of 2015, when Audrey Crook contacted me about her search for her long lost brother Joey. It was an amazing story. Audrey and Joey Sidler were put up for adoption more that 50 years ago, literally ripped apart on the courthouse steps.
Audrey tearfully recalls, “Not a day that goes by, that I don’t visualize coming down them steps, holding his little hand, and being told, ‘Audrey you go with that family. Joey, you go with that family. We don’t love y’all no more.'”
We shared Audrey’s story of her decades of searching for her brother, Joey. She had the court documents signed by Bee Hamilton. She had the name of his first adoptive family. But then the paper trail stopped, until our viewers shared the story on social media. Thousands of you shared our story on Facebook, and two days later Joey drove to Augusta to meet the sister he had missed for decades, even though he didn’t remember her name.
Audrey and Joey’s reunion was a moment I for one will never forget. They had missed each other for 50 years. The memory of a sibling somewhere haunted them throughout those decades.
My first guest today didn’t even know they had a sibling, and only recently learned they were Bee Hamilton victims too. I want to introduce you now to Debi Drummond and Barbara Hudson. Their story is just remarkable. Again, they didn’t know each other. They didn’t know that each other existed.
Barbara takes us back to a moment 15 years ago, when she was looking through her mother’s family bible.
“And for the first time in my life, I saw a name, Beverly K. Perry, born May 10, 1953. I was so stunned. It took a moment, and I finally asked Mother, ‘Who in the world is Beverly K. Perry?’ And she said, “It was a baby I had.’ And she said it so softly, and it took me a moment to think, should I go press her about it? And she said, ‘They told me she died.’ And at that, I never asked another question.”
Debi (Beverly Kay Perry in the above picture), on the other hand, knew growing up that she was adopted. She had the typical questions many adoptees share, like “Why didn’t they want me?” “Who am I?” and “What is my medical history?” But is wasn’t until she lost her husband and both of her parents, within about a-year-and-a-half, that she felt truly alone in the world.
“I had the three people that had loved me the most in my life were now gone. And I mean I have the girls of course, but you know this is just God’s timing in bringing us together 65 years, 70 years later. You know, God said this girl needs a sister. And look what He gave me.”
Sossette Clark Shivers grew up in a family with her twin sister and two brothers, all of whom were adopted. By chance, she was reconnected with her biological brother and father.
“I was at work, and overheard my boss saying to her mom about her preacher was wantin’ to find his twin sisters and his other biological brother. And one thing led to another, and that’s how I found the biological family.”
It’s so interesting because she wasn’t scheduled to work that day.
“They called you and needed you to come in?”
“That’s right, so it was at the right time. Everything works out.”
“He can remember that Bee Hamilton and a gentleman came and took the other brother straight out of the mother’s arms. And he just stood there ’cause he was a little bit older, and he just sat there and watched as they took his brother. There was nothin’ that they could do. And what I’ve been told from Pops, which is the biological father, that he said that back then they would go and take babies from the poor, and they would sell them to the rich, or adopt them out.”
Like many others, Sossette is sharing her story because she understands the need for closure, and wants to help others if she can.
“You know, I can’t imagine what my biological mother felt when they came and took the brother, and then forced her to give us up in adoption. I can’t imagine the devastation that she went through, and all the other parents, and even us kids. And there needs to be some kind of closure. And so I reached out, ’cause I wanted to find my other brother.
“The grass isn’t always greener. You expect certain things, and then it turns out completely different. And just because you’re not blood doesn’t mean you’re not family, because my family is who I grew up with. They will always be my family.”
WJBF shared a series of adoption stories in a special documentary, “Finding Birth Families.” You will find a link in the box to the left of this article. We have also posted another reunion story from the Jennie Show, Mother Reunited with Daughter… with guests Sandra Schmeiden and Becky Martin Warner. That link is also in the box to the left of this artiicle.
So many questions about the Bee Hamilton black market babies will never be answered, but as you’ve seen closure can come for some of the victims. If you are looking for biological family members, you may have success with some of these websites: