March 5th, 2007
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This site will tell you the story of Bessie Bernard.

Bessie Bernard was a part of a baby peddling ring in the 1940s which charged as much as two thousand dollars per baby, which was a lot of money at that time.

Many of the unwed mothers were found in the Miami Florida area and once the babies were born they were brought north and were sold in New York and nearby states.

Bessie Bernard was charged with conspiracy and illegal placement for adoption in December 1949. She worked with two others who were Brooklyn attorneys Irwin Slater and Harry Wolfson. Mr. Slater drafted formal agreements. Bessie Bernard was in charge of placement and transportation of the babies.

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During the trial, witnesses testified about giving their babies to the attorney for three hundred dollars or less. The families in which these babies were placed paid between one thousand six hundred fifty dollars and two thousand dollars.

A woman who testified said that she flew to Florida to pick up a baby for Bessie Bernard and flew home with the baby who was placed with a couple a few days later.

At the conclusion of the trial Bessie Bernard was denounced for “buying and selling babies for profit”. Bessie Bernard and Irwin Slater were each sentenced to one year in jail. Slater was assessed a fine of one thousand five hundred dollars and Bessie Bernard was assessed a fine of two thousand five hundred dollars. In his ruling it was said that if she paid her fine by November 17, 1950 that the judge would suspend execution of her prison term.. Harry Wolfson was acquitted.

It was later learned that after all of this, Bessie Bernard did illegal adoptions or black market adoptions as late as 1970 under the name of Elizabeth Weiner which was her maiden name.

36 Responses to “Bessie Bernard – Miami, FL”

  1. petals says:

    Does anyone know anything about this person besides this? Who were her relatives? I will tell you why I am interested. My biological father was a “Bernard”. The birthday that he had was June 5th, 1938. The couple that were is supposed “black market” parents, as this is exactly what they told him, abruptly moved from Queens NY around 1938. He was told that he had a twin sister and that he was purchased for a couple of thousand dollars. This family also had another set of twins after him, also “adopted.” I need to know where he came from but I believe this is probably the lady who sold him or placed him…has anyone ever found their heritage after a black market adoption???

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