CHAPTER LII. BABY FARMING.

A recent number of a city journal, contained the following account of the system of bringing up and adopting out illegitimate children in New York. We present it in place of any description of our own.

                     FEMALE MEDICAL ESTABLISHMENTS. 
          [Footnote: The writer of this article is a woman.]

Having read in the English and Scottish journals of the day a great deal of curious and startling matter in reference to the practice of 'baby-farming,' as it is called, and having constantly accumulating proof submitted to our eyes and understandings of the existence of similar practices in our midst, here, in this great Christian city of New York - having also read with mingled shame and wonder, and with suspended judgment (as to the vital question whether, as the world goes and must go, they were criminally injurious or socially beneficial) concerning the numerous private establishments where wounded love and brazen immorality alike find refuge and concealment, and where the true orphans of life, those innocents who know not and who can never know, their fathers or their mothers, find a temporary home, prior to their entrance upon life and their struggle with the world - a married lady friend of mine and myself determined recently to personally inquire into these subjects and to investigate their condition and practical workings, so far as possible, and to make public our investigations for the benefit of the world at large and of all whom it may concern.

Having arrived at this determination, the next morning we glanced over the advertising columns of the papers, and having read and reread the subjoined advertisement -

'Important to females. Dr. and Mrs. - - (20 years' practice) guarantee certain relief to married ladies. Patients from a distance provided with board, nursing, etc. Private advice letter free. Office, - - . New York' -

We resolved to visit this establishment that very day.

We found it located upon Third Avenue, near - - street, over a shop, and situated in the neighborhood of a number of little stores, sandwiched, as it were, between all varieties of trades. A sign on the exterior of the building directed us to pull the bell and walk up stairs. This injunction was probably designed to give the parties notice of the approach of persons desirous to see them, and to put them, and whoever might chance to be with them at the time, on their guard. The correctness of this view was proved by the fact, that, as we entered, we saw a woman peering at us from the floor above, who immediately withdrew on seeing us. We were shown into what had evidently been intended for a hall bed-room but now served the purpose of a reception room or office. Here we were, in a few moments, waited upon, by the very lady or woman who had just peered down upon us, but who, of course, assumed to be totally unconscious of this fact. She was neatly dressed, and of quiet manner; and bowing, awaited our introduction of the object of our visit. We made a poor enough show, doubtless, in our pretended statement of our design in calling, but between us we gave her to understand, as we had previously arranged, that we acted in behalf of a lady friend of ours who had been 'unfortunate,' and who desired nursing, medical attention, and above all, secrecy. Mrs. - - listened to our statement in a matter of fact way, as though our story was 'as familiar as household words,' and then, it must be confessed, kindly enough, with more delicacy and feeling (or show of it) than we would have, a priori, given her credit for, explained to us the modus operandi to be pursued. No patients were received at the office in Third Avenue; they were all sent to another branch of the establishment in - - street, presided over by a Dr. - - .

The terms were in all cases strictly the same. Twenty five dollars per week were charged for board and lodging, or one hundred dollars for the month, 'payable invariably in advance.' The fee for nursing and medical attendance was one hundred dollars; while the charge made for receiving and taking care of the child reached the same figure - making in all the considerable sum of three hundred dollars, for which amount it was guaranteed to furnish the most comfortable lodging, the best professional skill, and the most inviolate seclusion - certainly a convenient arrangement on both sides of the transaction.

"It must be here mentioned that no pay whatever, not even in the shape of presents or equivalents, is received from the parties who 'adopt' the children thus confided to the care of Mrs. - - and Dr. - - . On the contrary, this amiable couple are only too glad to get rid of the 'infant darlings' in some lawful way, and thus to avoid any further expense or delay upon their account. Those to whom the children are really indebted for their birth are required to bear the expense, which, as just stated, is fixed at one hundred dollars. And the only fear entertained by the madame and the doctor is, that 'people will not apply fast enough for the babies,' who are, from the day of their birth, sent at once to wet-nurses dispersed over the city, who, if the regular methods fail, are themselves allowed to adopt the children, or to dispose of them, by 'adoption,' to other parties."

But few of these "private establishments" are well managed. The majority are conducted by ignorant, avaricious quacks, who have no knowledge of surgery or medicine, and who either kill or injure their victims for life. Frequent arrests of these people are made every year, but the punishment is seldom inflicted as it should be. It is, as a general rule, only in such first-class establishments as that of the wickedest woman that patients are well treated or skilfully served. In the majority of them the most horrible suffering and certain death await the poor creatures who enter them. There are very few exceptions to this rule. The newspapers are full of the advertisements of the wretches who conduct these establishments, and there are always an abundance of applications from unfortunate women. They come here from all parts of the country. In the best establishments nature is allowed to take its course. In the others, the ignorant quacks attempt to hasten the result by artificial means. The end in such cases is death.

                     A JUVENILE ESTABLISHMENT.

You will see in almost any city paper a number of such advertisements as this:

"ADOPTION. - Two beautiful infants, male and female, five and six months old. Call upon Mrs. - - , No. 25 E. - - th street."

The following will show the meaning of such advertisements:

There is located on 19th street, New York city, a large establishment devoted to the obtaining and preparing of infants for 'adoption.' This Temple of the Innocents is presided over by a Madam P - - , and combines with the features common to the establishments elsewhere referred to, the new and novel feature of a 'nursery' in which the innocents are kept, nursed, and clothed, after a fashion, until they are 'adopted.' The babies are housed in a large and airy room, plainly but neatly furnished, and are attended by a corps of nice-looking nurses. Each babe has its own cradle, and a rattle or toy or two, and the little creatures are really well attended to, as it is evidently and directly the interest of Madam P - - to have her stock in trade as healthy- looking as possible, in order to dispose of them rapidly and to advantage. Madam P - - is a stout brunette, gaily dressed, and has made a great deal of money by the practice of her peculiar 'profession.'

She possesses a large wardrobe of baby-dresses, in which the infants are attired when 'presented,' in order to look as captivating as possible; and the lady is a thorough 'artist' in her way. She has been 'assaulted' by the papers, and 'interfered with' by the police, but, nevertheless, the facts are stated as we have found them.

"Another institution, located near that portion of the metropolis denominated Yorkville, is of a much more nefarious description. Here children are left by their unnatural parents to be 'disposed of,' and 'disposed of' they are - not killed outright, but neglected - given to suspicious characters, to mere strangers, and never heard from or thought of afterwards. A pensive-seeming, expressively-faced young woman clad in black, with a shawl thrown over her person, is engaged occasionally to appear as 'the mother' - 'the poor, heart-broken mother' of the babies. By her appearance and well-feigned tears, she excites the sympathies of such ladies (few in number) as visit the establishment in good faith for the purpose of 'adopting' infants, and her bursts of maternal tenderness and grief when imprinting a 'farewell kiss, forever' upon the lips and cheeks of her departing darling, seldom fail to draw an extra fee from the benevolent pocket of the 'adopting' patron."

Many mothers offer their children for adoption, simply to get rid of the trouble and expense of supporting them. Others part with them with tears and heart pangs, in the hope that the little one's future will be bettered by the change. Various causes are assigned for such acts.

                     AN INCIDENT.

"A French schoolmistress, a pretty young woman, who taught her native language to the younger scions of several of our 'first families,' having been brought to Dr. - - 's establishment, expressed her willingness to allow her child to be adopted, and it was accordingly placed at the disposal of a fashionable lady and her husband, who visited the establishment, and were about to bear the child away, when, suddenly, the poor young mother rushed down stairs, and, seeing her own flesh and blood, her own baby, clasped in another's arms, and about to be torn from her heart and her grasp forever, fell at the feet of the lady of fashion, and plead piteously, passionately, desperately, for permission to retain her child. In vain the lady of fashion remonstrated; in vain she argued the matter; in vain she offered the girl-mother money; in vain, too, were the upbraidings of the astonished housekeeper and her assistant; nature would have its way, and the mother would have her child, and the contest of Gold versus God terminated, as all such struggles should, in the victory of God and Heart, and the French mother kept her child."

                     A FASHIONABLE "INNOCENT."

Some strange, almost romantic incidents have occurred in the history of the 'patients' of the establishment of Dr. - - .

"A lady of the highest fashion, residing in Madison Avenue, accompanied by her husband, (not like the poor girl, who, seeking a refuge, must come secretly and alone,) called, one day, in reference to the receiving within the accommodating shelter of the asylum, her own sister, who had been 'unfortunate,' as women go. The 'sister' - a fair-haired brunette, with exquisite eyes - was accordingly admitted, (it being announced to her circle, the curled darlings of society, that the young lady would be 'out of town, visiting some of her friends in the country' for a limited period.) In three months, the young lady returned to her admirers, and a delicious cherub (given out to nurse) is at the present writing almost daily visited by a beautiful young lady, 'who has conceived a great liking for it,' and by an older and more matronly lady, who speaks of, at some future time, 'adopting' the little darling (who, apropos, bears a strong resemblance to the younger lady) for her own."

                     FACTS.

Some years ago, a handsome young woman, of respectable parentage, sought the shelter of the convenient establishment of Dr. - - . The lady subsequently married a well-to-do farmer, from the West, and in the full confidence of the marriage state, trusting to the passionate devotion of her husband, she revealed the secret of her early misdemeanor to her liege lord, who proved himself well worthy of her confidence. The wife, who resided in Illinois, came to New York; visited Mrs. - - , (the lady who acted as Dr. - - 's agent, and a call upon whom has already been described,) and begged Mrs. - - to restore the child, who had been separated from her and 'adopted' by other parties, years before. With this request Mrs. - - refused to comply. She knew the whereabouts of the child well enough, but she also knew that it was now the protege, the pet, the heir of a wealthy old couple, who were devotedly attached to it, and whose hearts would be almost broken by parting with it, while the worldly interests of the child would also be materially injured by the removal. Above all, the revealing of the child's locale would be a violation of a 'professional obligation,' and would be initiating a very dangerous precedent in matters of this kind; and so Mrs. - - 's lips were sealed, and to this day the real mother knows naught of her own child; would not even be able to recognize her offspring, if they were to meet face to face in the streets of New York.

"A rising young politician of this city has recently married a lady, whose early history resembles that of the mother just mentioned. But the politician is of a different mould from the Western husband, and having ascertained the 'little episode' in his wife's history, is now negotiating with her for a separation. Unlike the mother just alluded to, however, the politician's wife has recovered her child, and finds consolation in the fact, even in view of the contemplated separation.

"A terrible scandal, which was on the verge of becoming the property of the greedy public of New York, compromising a young Jewess of great wealth and high social position, has been recently, and let us trust, finally 'hushed' through the invaluable aid of Dr. - - 's establishment. A horrible revelation of domestic depravity has thus escaped publication, and a woman who would otherwise have been an outcast from her circle, and a blot upon the religion of her people, is now, thanks to skill, secresy, and money, the admired wife of a leading Hebrew merchant."