Butterbox Babies

The Ideal Maternity Home was operated by William and Lila Young in East Chester, Nova Scotia, between the late 1920's through the 1940's. William was a chiropractor and Lila was a midwife but marketed herself as an obstetrician. The Home began as a place for local married couples to find maternity care, as well as a discreet location for unwed mothers to have their babies. At the time legal adoptions in the U.S. were not permitted across religious lines and with a shortage of available newborns, many American couples traveled to Nova Scotia to adopt from the Ideal Maternity Home. The cost of the adoptions varied but it is believed that some couples paid up to $10,000 for a baby. At times, there were upwards of 100 babies available for adoption. As time went on, the Youngs' practices became more and more corrupt. Babies who were considered 'unadoptable', either because of skin color or health issues, were left to die and buried in the woods behind the Home or dumped into the ocean. The term 'Butterbox Baby' comes from the small mitered pine butterboxes that came from the local dairy and were used as coffins, just the right size for a newborn.

That is why we call ourselves “Survivors of the Ideal Maternity Home”, we were the lucky ones.