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Eighteen strangers have
now become allies in the search for the truth surrounding a tragedy that may
have happened to all of them nearly 50 years ago. This group of black women all gave birth at a segregated hospital called Homer G.
Phillips in St. Louis between the ages of 15 and 20 . All of these mothers were told that their babies died after birth but were not allowed to see the baby's body, have a funeral or
receive a death certificate.
Fifty years later, these women became
curious about their unfortunate pasts when they heard about the reunion between
76-year-old Zella Jackson Price and her daughter Melanie Gilmore. Price gave birth at Homer G. Phillips Hospital in 1965 and was later
informed that her daughter had died. Her daughter did not die that day.
Instead, she was sent to foster care and told that her mother had given her up
The reunion happened as a
result of a search by Gilmore's children to celebrate her 50th birthday. They wanted to try to find their mother's birth mother to deliver the
ultimate surprise. The reunion between Price, who has remained in St. Louis and
Gilmore, now of Eugene, Oregon, was emotional and joyful. But most importantly,
it inspired other women to come forward to share that they too had endured the same painful experience.
Price and the other
mothers have come together to ask for an investigation into the records of Homer
G. Phillips Hospital. Price's attorney, Albert Watkins, is leading the call to
action for an investigation. Watkins suspects the hospital coordinated the
theft of the newborns to sell to adoption agencies.
Each case was strikingly
similar: The mother would give birth to what seemed to be a healthy child, the
nurse would take the child away and return later to report that the child had
died. These mothers, young and economically disadvantaged, did
not question the nurses or hospitals, they simply believed what they had been
"These are moms," Watkins
said. "They are mothers at the end of their lives, seeking answers to a lifelong
hole in their heart."