A Hollywood Mystery: I was a Black Market Baby

I learned I was a black market baby when I was 14. There was no legal adoption, and it’s still unclear if money had changed hands. The parents who took possession of me changed my identity and pretended to be my biological parents. The deception was deliberate and deep.

It came to a crashing end when my adoptive mother’s lawyer took it upon himself to tell me the truth. For years, after that bombshell, both my adoptive parents said it was a lie, and that I was their “real” child. The reason he told me about the fake adoption was because my adoptive mother was on her deathbed. She had six months to live according to her doctors. The lawyer took pity on me fearing what would happen if my adopted mother died before I could talk to her about my situation. It turned out she survived until I was in my late teens, but she had a rough time of it: her leg amputated, she finally lapsed into a coma and spent her last year in a hospital, kept alive by machines.

Toward the end of her life, she told me I was not her daughter in the most unloving way possible. From her wheelchair, she chased me out of her home brandishing a butcher knife.

She told me to leave her home and never return. She didn’t offer any information about how I came into her life. She left me with no sense of my lineage or why she bitterly raised me as her daughter. After inquiring carefully within my adopted family, it was clear that only my adoptive father, whom I was close to, knew about my origins. He guarded the secret all the way to his death bed. He had died from cancer before I had the chance or maturity to ask the right questions.

The difficulty with secrets is that the truth only comes when you ask the correct questions. Like a politician, my father was a master at deception. He never let loose the secrets. He was cunning and smart, but most of all, he was mysterious. Long after he died, I researched what little I knew of him. His past was filled with friends indicted for mafia crimes committed across continents. Was my father connected to that? I will never know for sure, but I would call my adopted father “a person of interest” in today’s language.

About five years ago, a thin manila envelope suddenly appeared on my doorstep. My late father’s lawyer—a one-term congressman—had sent me my file, which only deepened the mystery. Much to my disappointment, the envelope contained few facts about my biological parents. The bulk of contents was about the unconventional upbringing I had endured with my adoptive family.  My adoptive parents had divorced when I was little, and my mother was always worried they might take me away. Who “they” were is still a mystery. There were letters from California, Hawaii, and mentions of quick departures abroad.

As a child, I was taken out of the United States to be raised in Australia and then abducted by family members to England only to have Scotland Yard inquire about my welfare.

Using the sparse information I had, I worked with a highly regarded TV search personality who was interested in my story. Through my research I discovered my adopted family had a salacious past, some became well-known in the entertainment industry. Two people attempted an unsuccessful murder. When I asked family members about the attempted murder, they confirmed that the story was true without shock or surprise. However, when I asked about my origins, I was hit with a brick wall of silence.

Heidi Parks
Photo from Heidi Parks personal collection

The more I asked about my origins the less my adopted family would talk to me. My aunt went as far as telling a private investigator that I didn’t exist. I was gutted, reduced to being non-existent in the only family I knew.

These people were not particularly warm to me over the years, but they were my only family. Now I officially didn’t exist to them. Years of detective work on my part resulted in nothing. I was no closer to knowing who my biological family was. Then the holy grail of research became available, DNA testing.


I dipped my toe into the water. I tested on 23andMe. I didn’t have any close DNA matches, but I had opened the floodgates to the brave new world of DNA genealogy. I found out I was English, French, Polish, and Ashkenazi Jew most likely with Russian and Ukrainian origins. This new information was groundbreaking.

For the first time, I had a connection with my distant past. I still didn’t know who my biological parents were, but at least I had scientific proof that I did actually exist. DNA also told me that my maternal line was English and French and non-Jewish so that at least gave me a place to start my new research. Next, I tested at FTDNA (Family Tree DNA) and got more matches, all too distant to provide any solid clues about my biological parents. FTDNA further confirmed my European ancestral background.

My next step was AncestryDNA. Bingo! I got a match to a first cousin, once removed. That match was open to talking to me, and while we had no idea how I fit into his tree, he accepted me, more so than the family who raised me. For a year, we struggled with our research always hitting dead ends. Then I got three more DNA matches on AncestryDNA and after a year, we learned that all these people were in the same rather large, complicated tree.


Then it happened … I figured out who my biological mother was! She had changed her name* several times, and her paper trail was sparse at best, but DNA doesn’t lie. I found her!

Then, I was told she died four years earlier and had lived half an hour from me. That blow was hard, painful, and knocked the wind out of me. I had driven past her home thousands of times, never knowing I was that close to my biological mother all these years.

Heidi Parks listed as an actress with the Agency of Performing Arts, Inc.
Heidi Parks listed as an actress with the Agency of Performing Arts, Inc. Photo from Heidi Parks personal collection

Fearful and excited I drove to where she had lived. Her name was still on the mailbox. Was it left there for me to see and confirm I had indeed found my biological mother? I spoke to neighbors who told me I reminded them of her.

I was so close to her yet separated by the divide of death, to never look into her eyes or hear her voice. I looked down and told myself she probably once stood where I now stood. It was a hollow victory. I hurt.

The next step was to learn about her and find my biological father. I was again hit with a wall silence. It turns out my mother had a stage name, Heidi Parks. She was an actress. She worked in television during the golden age of TV in the 1960’s, but little of her credits survived into the age of the Internet. She had no electronic footprint; she was private to a point that is unimaginable in the 21st century.

"Beverly Hills Edition, Citizen-News" November 21st, 1968. From Heidi's personal collection.
“Beverly Hills Edition, Citizen-News” November 21st, 1968. Photo from Heidi Parks personal collection

She went into seclusion, never to work again, from her late 20’s on. Heidi had one close friend she confided in who was reluctant to tell me what he knew, but eventually gave me a short list of the men in her life, and he speculated on who my father might be.

He confirmed I was Heidi’s child. She had named me Bambi, and he knew I was Heidi’s Bambi. To this day, he tells me little, and I’m left with so many unanswered questions.


Heidi dated a Los Angeles Dodger named Roy Gleason. Roy is well-known for being the only Dodger to have a Purple Heart from Vietnam and a World Series ring from the Dodgers. Roy was kind and met me for lunch. He was in love with Heidi, and when he spoke of her, he smiled with the look of someone recalling fond memories from a romantic youth. Roy told me Heidi was a sweet and quiet young lady, perhaps a bit naive. He told me she was a conservative person and did USO-type shows in Vietnam (how Roy and her met) and visited the wounded Vietnam soldiers at Letterman Hospital in San Francisco to cheer them up. Their paths separated as he pursued baseball, and Heidi pursued acting. He knew little of her beyond their brief romance. Roy is not my father, but he remembered her once mentioning Bambi, unaware Heidi was speaking of her daughter … me.

Barry Goldwater Jr. & Heidi Parks "Shoes of the Fisherman" Premiere 1968
Barry Goldwater Jr. & Heidi Parks “Shoes of the Fisherman” Premiere 1968. Photo ©Irv Antler from Heidi Park’s personal collection.

Heidi also dated Barry Goldwater, Jr. former Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from California. He is the son of the late Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater. I was sent a picture of them together from a movie premiere they attended. Heidi and Barry also show up in newspaper columns from California to Pennsylvania as a couple. I contacted him and asked if he would be willing to tell me anything about Heidi.

The congressman promptly called back, less than 24 hours after I sent an email. He left a message on my phone stating he had no memory of meeting her in a don’t contact me again tone.

New Castle News 11/27/68 "Shoes of the Fisherman" Premiere. From Heidi Parks personal collection.
New Castle News 11/27/68 “Shoes of the Fisherman” Premiere.

Why would he call me to tell me that? I’m no one of importance, yet he called to tell me he didn’t know Heidi? Why bother? I couldn’t help but wonder if the mere mention of Heidi  upset him enough to call me and leave that message. I only wanted to hear what he remembered of her. I saved the message. Perhaps he will reconsider speaking with me. I can only hope.

The shortlist also included  Jackie Mason. I contacted Mason’s agent. Mason’s current wife responded and told me Jackie neither knows nor ever knew a Heidi Parks.

Another brick wall. Did I mention I found three newspaper clippings about the engagement of Heidi Parks to Jackie Mason, and Jackie responding about his relationship with Heidi, the woman he never knew? Jackie Mason stated that he and Heidi were just good friends, and they had no plans to marry.

A note from Frank Gorshin. He was a rumored boyfriend of Heidi.
A note from Frank Gorshin. He was a rumored boyfriend of Heidi. “Heidi!! There’s not enough room here to say very much — not enough to say what I feel! — I’ll think of you often — especially when I reach for a “coke” and a cigarette!!! — Love Frank  Photo from Heidi Parks personal collection

Everyone else I’ve contacted—with the exception of Roy Gleason—feigns ignorance about Heidi. Why would this sweet and rather quiet woman make people lie to me and say they never knew her?

Why did Heidi go into hiding starting in her late 20’s? She wore hats, gloves, and coats, hiding in plain sight even in the heat of summer. What was she hiding from? Why were all my birth records forged, fake names and fake DOB’s for both parents? Why did my adoptive parents have fake consent to adopt with a fake notary?

I found my OCB (Original Birth Certificate), and there is a fictitious name for the mother and “decline to state” written where the father’s name should be.


The pediatrician involved in my birth was indicted for participating in a black market baby ring with several Beverly Hills attorneys. The pediatrician never went to jail, but even his adult son confirmed in a phone call that his father did help place babies for some rather prominent people in the entertainment industry. So while the courts didn’t find him guilty, we know he was a participant in discreet adoptions.

Photo from Heidi Parks personal collection

Both my adopted parents and adopted brother are dead. I was closest to my brother. I asked my brother if he knew anything about my birth parents, and he told me in a harsh tone I will never forget,

“There are just some things you should never know.”

I argued with him and begged for answers, but he refused in anger—the only time in my life my brother and I raised voices at one another. I never asked him again, and I deeply regret not pushing harder for answers. Good or bad, I want the truth. We all deserve to know where we come from and to claim our place in our own family tree. I want to know my past and my heritage, something many people take for granted. And by the way, I EXIST!

*Heidi Parks also was known by two other names: Zygma Jo Kempinski and De Ann Carol Pierce or “DeDe” Pierce. Her agent changed her name to Heidi Parks. She sometimes went by Parkes with an ‘e.’

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B. Janine Morison

Janine holds a BA cum laude in History from USC, a Professional Certificate in Feature Film Writing from UCLAx, earned with distinction, and an AA with honors in physical science/geology from Pasadena City College. She wrote a bi-weekly newspaper column called "Cyber Culture" about the Internet and culture. Janine worked in radio as a daily on-air announcer in San Francisco and a stringer for ABC radio, interviewing Major League Baseball players and managers. She has extensive journalism skills and wrote PSA’s and commercials for radio and appeared in an Air France print ad with Gene Kelly. Janine has worked in all areas of film/TV production. Along with her love of film/TV/music, Janine has a passion for science and interviewed Nobel Prize winner, Richard Feynman just prior to his death. Fascinated with technology, Janine worked at NASA/JPL as a computer tech for two unmanned spacecraft missions and a military war games simulation project. Recently, Janine completed a feature film action adventure script, Stormstoppers and developed a documentary about Keith Moon, drummer for “The Who.”

  1. OMG–your story could almost be mine!

    I was a black market baby, born 1958 in San Antonio, TX, and I absolutely did not know this until I was 19 years old. Unfortunately, I was acquired by a narcissistic, functioning schizophrenic for a mother, and a sociopath for a father. Oh, these people wore their respective masks of sanity to the outside world; they were able to hold-down jobs and have “normal” interactions with strangers, and they also provided me with all the material wealth of a solid, 1960’s middle-class existence. Privately, though, I suffered periods of instability, emotional and physical abuse, mostly due to my adopted mother’s toxic combination of narcissism, cruelty, and schizoid episodes. My adopted father, on the other hand, could be “kind and loving,” but it was all only contrived–this was the MO he would use towards the countless other women he pursued while still married to my adopted mother. My a. mother and I frequently clashed, even more so as I grew into my teens, and this is when, in a complete fit of anger, that she told me that I absolutely “did not belong” to her. My a. father swore up and down–to my face–that my a. mother was “just being crazy again,” like the bold-face lying sociopath that he was until the day he died. Soon afterwards, my a. mother stole my ID and locked me out of the family home for good. I never lived there again.

    From 19 onward, I’ve felt like a visitor from some other world, that I don’t really belong to anyone or any family. I’m on my 3rd (and last marriage), and I was blessed with my own biological child whom I love with all my heart, by my second husband. But, at the same time, I feel an island on my own. My adopted parents really messed with my head and my secure sense of identity. It’s not good when you realize your formative years were really nothing more than a lie that everyone knew and whispered about–except you.

  2. What a story, what a life! Thank you so much for sharing this! I too found out that I have Ashkenazi Jewish heritage – 56%!

    All thanks to a DNA test, which I have been inspired to pursue.

    Thank you, Julie Anderson for suggesting I read this – and for accompanying me on this bizarre journey…

    Absolutely incredible!

  3. Thank you for writing about this horrifically sad story. God surely used you to spread the world of “I DO EXIST.”

    I commend you on your values, honesty, and love in your heart. I pray you find your biological family. Anyone would be honored to call you family!!!

    I cry listening to your beginnings, but honor the struggle in the end, for the truth!! I’m so sad you suffered so much. Many of us suffered and can’t discuss our story due to the pain many feel.

    I send my hugs and love to you!! I pray for your true happiness:) Thank you CeeCee for helping this angel:)

  4. Sharon Rife Anatra

    Erica, I have one question for you. When have you been told is your date of birth? I had a daughter, and when she was born I was told that she died shortly after. I saw her in the nursery and she was very healthy looking. The story of my search can be found on facebook “Finding Baby Anatra”

  5. Wow! No kidding! I definitely see a resemblance. Can’t you do anything legally to do paternity testing?

  6. My back-story is wholly different from yours, but wow, what an amazing story you’ve written here. Your writing is fetching, uncluttered, and riveting. If this were a book, I’d certainly read it.

  7. B. Janine Morison

    B Carr, all points you bring up are things that have been considered. I wish those who knew my bio mother would talk to me about her. I only seek the truth.

  8. B. Janine Morison

    Thank you for your kind words. It’s been a difficult journey. I hope my story helps others. I know I’m not alone. Many of us are searching for the truth.

  9. B. Janine Morison

    There certainly was great effort to hide who my bio parents were. Finding my bio mother only deepened the mystery about the biological father since no one will step forward with information. I hope to one day find out the truth. Thank you for your kind words of support.

  10. B. Janine Morison

    My greatest wish is that the people who knew my bio mother would step up and talk to me and tell me about her. The constant stonewalling is beyond frustrating. Regarding my bio father, I would like to meet him before he dies, assuming he is still alive. I don’t know who my biological father is at this point in time.

  11. B. Janine Morison

    Thank you, Julie. I too hope for answers soon. Thank you for all your support. xox

  12. B. Janine Morison

    Thank you for your support. It’s very possible we are distant “cousins.” If you DNA test you will find hundreds if not thousands of distant cousins on your match list. DNA has certainly changed the way we view our connections with one another.

  13. B. Janine Morison

    Thank you, Marla. It’s only with the support of Feminine Collective that I told my story here. As a mother myself, that is what started me on this journey, to find my son’s grandparents so he would know his ancestry and roots. I’m heartbroken that my biological mother never got to meet her grandson. I will keep you posted.

  14. B. Janine Morison

    Yes, I work with some very talented people. My genealogist has worked on this for years and her ability to find information is what lead us to the results we have today. CeCe Moore the genetic genealogist https://www.facebook.com/CeCeMooreDNA/?fref=ts has been a good friend and helped me go over DNA results and matches as I continue to do my research. I’ve also had the help of countless other people who have been generous with their time over the years. There is a huge community of support for those of us searching for the truth.

  15. B. Janine Morison

    Thank you, Mary. I too hope that one day I have a part 2 to this story. The stonewalling by all parties is particularly frustrating. We all deserve to know our roots.

  16. B. Janine Morison

    Please keep us updated on your search. Misinformation is difficult as you mentioned, it is not clear when dealing with searches such as your if the dates and info you have is the original information or “amended” info. Please find me on FB at https://www.facebook.com/BJanineMorison13/ and keep me updated on your work. Uploading to GEDmatch is a smart move. I’m on GEDmatch as well. ~Janine

  17. Agree!! That was my first thought. It’s someone she dated and if her adopted family had mafia ties, so did/does Mason and the rest of the “Rat Pack”. And that would explain her having enough money to be a “recluse” at an early age. Someone was paying her bills. Sometimes just looking in a mirror and at a photo will tell you enough.

  18. If you click on the auhor’s name and look at her photo along with a photo of Jackie Mason it’s pretty striking and I would say very clear that he is the father. She does not resemble Heidi Parks at all but resembles Jackie Mason strongly especially in the eyes. This along with the Ashkenazi Jewish DNA results point to Mr. Mason. An unplanned pregnancy was also often followed by an engagement during this time period which would make sense that they may have chosen to marry her for a brief period of time (hence the engagement announcements) but broke up and cancelled the engagement for some unknown reason. I would suggest the author find known relatives of JM that might be willing to dna test on the down low. This might answer some questions but based on simple photo evidence alone I would say JM is the father.

  19. My thoughts are only that I wonder if you have tried search teams that are amazing in their finds. I know it is worth a try. God bless you on your journey. Adoptees and parents/siblings of adoptees are deserving individuals.

  20. What a mystery, and the stonewalling by “family” is so distressing. You’re right, you deserve to know where you came from. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope one day there is a part 2 with the answers you’re looking for.

  21. For the doctors, run this search in Google, with and without quotes, Biographical directory of American Physicians.

    I hope it helps to give you more information on them.

  22. This story touched me in so many ways. First of all, you do exist. I can’t imagine the loss you felt knowing you had missed your birth mother by such a short time, especially when your adoptive mother displayed such hostility in the end. I hope someone reading this article decides to step up, if they know anything about your story. Thank you for sharing such an intimate and shocking account with us. I can’t wait to hear updates. Please keep us posted on your findings and find some peace in knowing that you have a piece of your birth mother, the name she chose for you. I’m sure she loved you very much. My heart and thoughts go out to you.

  23. I’m actually searching for 2 children that were given up by my grandmother in the 1950’s. The only person I know who knows anything is not talking. At least to me. I have found a number of posts from this person on adoption sites looking for these children as well. Black market baby adoption is not a term one uses lightly, but all their posts say that scary phrase. Terrant Fort Worth is where this happened. I have been looking for info on my father, who was trying to get his foot in the door through acting and music along with comedy as well. Everyone who knew him clams up like a little vise when I finally get them to talk to me. He got as far as a production company shared with his wife. Along with a television appearance. His wife was not very helpful, and skirted answering any questions. She is relatively known in the entertainment community, and has even won a Grammy award. It took months for her response, and it happened shortly after I started saying a number of negative things about her online. I’m sure that she has a stage name too. Everybody’s vague and even takes back things that they have said originally when I came back and asked more questions about it.
    My father was smart, and move to Arizona where public records are not public for 50 years. I was able to obtain his death certificate, but there are many incorrect entries.
    My grandmother was born in the UK, comes to the United States during the war- 1945. She disappears from the paperwork radar from 1952-1976. She shows back up at her death in 1976 in San Francisco California. Via stories, I can place her in San Francisco in 1968. And other stories tell me that she stayed in Dallas until 1955 at least. Due to all the posts searching for these two adopted kids who would be adults now, I have been able able to obtain two crucial dates, they may be adopted on dates or birthdays, the names of the places The children were supposed to be born at, but the posts also say they were not born there. I also have The names of the lawyers, and the doctors involved in the adoptions. I cannot find these people on basic searching. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Or if anyone has any questions for me, you can find me on social media by searching my username. As this is very public, I do not wish to include any names or dates here. It just opens me up for people with Ill-intensions. I have also done my DNA, and expect my results back at the end of May 2016. I will upload the raw data to GEDmatch.com.

  24. It seems pretty clear that the “truth” of your father would’ve caused PLENTY of turmoil and confusion among some very high-profile persons in Hollywood. Someone went to GREAT LENGTHS to conceal it, and your mother received “hush money.” I am glad you at least know who she was, and sad that you were so close–yet so far. Best of luck in your journey!

  25. I would love love love to speak with you about your story. I’m a black market baby being stonewalled by my adoptive family and I would do anything for a little guidance from someone who understands, ok how to go about researching what I can. It’s comforting knowing someone else has my story- I’m not alone.

    You can email me at airee915@gmail.com


  26. PS – although I am probably posting things that you already have checked out, I would be remiss if I didn’t ask if you have searched as to how Heidi supported herself all those years. Is there any way to investigate her income tax records, bank records, etc. to see if she was supported by someone or had an influx of “hush money” around the time you were born? Some sort of way to try to figure out who might have been that close to her.

  27. I see that you mention Ashkenazi Jewish as one of your paternal DNA results. I’m sure that you probably are aware of the fact that both Jackie Mason and Barry Goldwater, Jr. are of Jewish descent. I know that Barry Goldwater, Sr.’s wife and his mother were not Jewish whereas Jackie Mason’s parents were both Jewish and I believe immigrants. I’m not familiar with the other men you mentioned who might be candidates for your birth father.

    I myself have a small amount of Jewish DNA but it is so small there is little chance of discovering where it came from. However, in your case, I would look at the Ashkenazi Jewish percentage of your DNA. Jackie Mason for example would have contributed a larger amount than Barry Goldwater, Jr. because both Barry’s mother and grandmother (and perhaps great grandmother) were not Jewish and why Barry was raised in the Episcopal faith.

    I wish you well on your search for the truth. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for adoptive parents who knowingly work via the black market to adopt a child and I feel that you deserve the answers you are seeking. Best wishes to you.

  28. Thank you for sharing such a harrowing and heartbreaking story B.Janine…I am inspired by your courage…I am a Euro-American mutt with ancestors spread out from one end of Europe to the other so I like to think that its very plausible that we are related in a distant cousin kind of way…it is my sincere hope for you that you find all the answers that you are looking for my friend.

  29. Donna Raye Hutchison Deverna


  30. Thank you for sharing your fascinating and tragic story, it has me crying tears into my coffee…..
    I had a childhood best friend who was adopted. From her I can only gather an inkling of what it feels like to ‘not know’, but I know it runs deep.
    What your parents and adoptive parents did, is all about them.
    As a fellow human being and soul, I would remind you that you absolutely exist and you are part of all of us, an important part of all of us, you may never know it directly but your sharing will likely help some other souls out there, to feel less alone.


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