Breaking

"4 Children for Sale", 1948


This photo first appeared on August 5, 1948 in Vidette-Messenger in Valparaíso, Indiana. The kids posed and looked a little confused as their pregnant mother hides her face from the photographer.

The caption read: "A large 'for sale' sign in a Chicago yard tells the sad story of Mr. and Mrs. Ray Chalifoux, who face eviction from their apartment. With no place to turn, jobless coal The truck driver and his wife decide to sell their four children. Mrs. Lucille Chalifoux turns her head to the camera while her children stare in surprise. On top are Lana, 6, and Rae, 5. Below Milton, 4, are and Sue Allen, 2".

Family members accused the mother of giving money to stage the photo, which was probably part of the story, but unfortunately, she was serious about selling her children. Within two years the photographs of all the children, as well as the child she was carrying at the time, were sold to different homes.



Ryan Mills and his brother Milton were sold to the Zoetman family on August 27, 1950. Their names were changed to Beverly and Kenneth, and although her birth mother's status was dire, her new home was not much of a salvation.

They were often tied up in a barn and forced to work long hours on the farm. Milton remembers being called a "slave" to his new father, a label he accepted at the time because he didn't understand what it meant.

Although it appears that Ryan and Milton were never officially adopted by their abusers, their brother David, who was in his mother's womb at the time of the photograph, was legally adopted by Harry and Luella McDaniel, who only lived a few miles away.

David, who says that his adoptive parents were strict but loving and supportive, remembers unwinding them before riding back home on his bike to see his siblings.

Soon after going through a brutally traumatic situation, Ryan left home at the age of 17. As a young teen, she was kidnapped and raped, resulting in her becoming pregnant. She was sent to a home for pregnant girls and adopted her child when she returned.


As Milton grew older, he reacted with violent anger at beatings, starvation, and other abuses. A judge considered her a threat to society, and she spent several years in a mental hospital, when forced to choose between her and a reformatory (a juvenile detention center).

The siblings didn't know what happened to Lana and Sue Allen, however, years later they were able to reconnect with her via social media. Lana died of cancer in 1998, but Sue Ellen Chalifoux was still alive.

Sue Allen was raised not far from her original home, having grown up in the East Side neighborhood of Chicago. Her opinion of her biological mother: "She needs to burn in hell".

The woman in the picture remarried after selling/giving away her five children and had four more daughters. When her other children finally came to see her, she was described as completely lacking love for her separated children, or having any remorse for letting them go.

David McDaniel defends his mother's coldness as evidence of a different, harsher world. "As soon as my mom saw me, she said, 'You look just like your dad'", McDaniel said. "She never apologized. At the time, it was existence. Who are we to judge? We're all human. We all make mistakes. She must have been thinking about the kids. Didn't want them to die".

Milton had a different view on the situation: "My birth mother, she never loved me. She never apologized for selling me. She hated me so much she didn't care".

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