What began has a remarkable mother-daughter reunion has led to something downright sinister: accusations that hospital employees stole newborns from poor black mothers and sold them for profit. The story began to emerge when Melanie Gilmore's children tracked down her birth mother as a birthday surprise. That stunned the birth mother, 76-year-old Zella Jackson Price, because she had been told by a nurse at Homer G. Phillips Hospital in St. Louis that her baby girl had died soon after birth in 1965. When the reunion made headlines, the family started getting calls from other women who'd been told the same thing at the now-defunct hospital. So far, 18 women have come forward, reports AP, and Price has called on the mayor of St. Louis and the governor of Missouri to investigate.
In a letter to both, her attorney says it's now clear that multiple people at the hospital engaged a "scheme and artifice to steal newborns of color for marketing in private adoption transactions." At the time of the alleged kidnappings, roughly the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s, few adoption agencies served black couples, notes AP. (Gilmore wasn't adopted, however; the letter alleges that those involved in the scheme later realized the child was hearing impaired and "unmarketable"; she entered foster care.) The hospital shut down in 1979. There's no official response from state or city officials, but don't expect the issue to go away: Producers for Oprah, Ellen, and Dr. Oz, already have been in contact with Price, reports KSDK. Read more here. (Read more St. Louis stories.)