FLA. MAN BRINGS BABY-BROKERING BUSINESS TO S.C.
The Charlotte Observer/Associated Press
March 8, 1988
A Florida man is doing business in South Carolina because the state`s adoption laws don`t outlaw middlemen in for-profit baby brokering, a practice in which he specializes.
Three family-practice lawyers in Columbia say they have been approached by Richard Gitelman, who Florida investigators say charges $24,000 to $45,000 to secure a baby for prospective parents.
Gitelman also moved a woman from California to Columbia 4 1/2 months ago so she could have a baby for a client of Gitelman`s, but the woman had a
miscarriage, The State newspaper said Monday.
The woman, who already had had one baby for a Gitelman client, said she didn`t feel mistreated, and said Gitelman seemed to be a "very nice guy."
She said Gitelman told her that he wanted her to move to South Carolina. The miscarriage occurred in December but she still is in Columbia working as a waitress at a pizza parlor.
Gitelman, reached in Coral Springs, Fla., where he lives, would not comment about any aspect of his business, the newspaper said, nor would his attorney, David Bogenschutz.
Sweeping revisions to S.C. adoption laws were passed in 1986, following the case of a Fountain Inn woman who tried to sell her child for $3,500.
The new laws required that a certified investigator had to report that the adoptive parents and the birth mother were fit to handle a baby transaction
before it could take place.
They also tightened residency requirements so that only people who could prove they had permanent state residence could adopt, except under special
It also became a crime for a woman to sell her baby, and licensed agencies, such as the Department of Social Services and church-affiliated agencies,
couldn`t profit from placing a baby.
But fees for adoption middlemen were not outlawed.
"We had been addressing a specific situation. We were trying to make it narrow so we could get it passed," said state Rep. David Wilkins, R-
Greenville, and author of the law.
Wilkins said Gitelman`s actions have made him realize broker fees also need to be outlawed.
Responding to Gitelman`s operations, lawmakers banned broker fees in Louisiana last year and in Oregon in 1985, the newspaper said.
"On the one hand, I`m sure there are many parents who have adopted who say it was well worth the money they paid to the individual," Wilkins said.
"By the same token, it bothers me that we`re allowing our children to go to the highest bidder. I don`t think it`s healthy, and I don`t think it`s
something we should allow," he said.
Wilkins, who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he intends to talk with the state`s Joint Legislative Committee on Children about
amending the law. That committee`s chairman, Sen. Nell Smith, D-Pickens, said she is eager to listen.
Jeff Rosenberg of the National Committee for Adoption in Washington said there are some costs - legal, medical and possibly housing - that go with
adopting a baby. But he said the total rarely tops $15,000.
"I tell people when they ask, If you`re paying more than $15,000, I would have some questions,` " said Rosenberg, director of adoption services for the committee, a privately funded information bank, which takes a strong stand against profits in adoption.
Gitelman`s base charge is $15,000 before additional medical, legal and other fees, said Morton Laitner, an attorney with Florida`s Department of
Health and Rehabilitative Services.
Those additional fees usually amount to another $9,000 to $30,000 - much more than typical medical and legal expenses accrued in adoption cases, said Laitner and Judi Cochran with the Pennsylvania Task Force on Interstate Child Exploitation.