Dr. Thomas Hicks is accused of selling more than 200 babies out of his clinic in a small town in McCaysville, Georgia in the 1950s and 1960s to adoptive parents in Akron, Ohio. The babies, now well into adulthood, are known as the “Hicks Babies.”
The youngest of the Hicks Babies, Jane Blasio, works as a professional private investigator. She uncovered the black market adoption ring in 1997, when she was trying to reveal the truth of her own origins.
The birth certificates for the Hicks Babies were forged, accurately listing their birthplace as McCaysville, Georgia, but listing their adoptive parents as their birth parents. That forgery erased the biological parents of the Hicks Babies, leaving many in the dark as to who their biological parents were. Several of the Hicks Babies appear on Taken At Birth, hoping to find biological relatives. The story has been featured in many TV specials, including TLC’s Taken At Birth, which originally aired over three nights in October 2019.
Here’s what you need to know:
Dr. Thomas Hicks Sold More than 200 Babies Through a Back Window of his Clinic in Georgia
Dr. Thomas Hicks was a family doctor who ran a practice, Hicks Community Clinic, in McCaysville, Georgia. McCaysville is a small town that sits on the Tennessee border. The illegal adoptions stopped in 1964 when he was charged for performing illegal abortions. He forfeit his medical license that year to escape prosecution for conducting abortions long before Roe v. Wade, according to Appalachian History. Despite the illegality, he would advertise the services on telephone booths, bus stations and bridges.
Although Hicks performed abortions, they conflicted with his faith, according to WKYC. He was married to a Baptist Sunday school teacher. He would sometimes convince the expectant mothers to continue the pregnancy through birth, putting them up for several months, and telling them he would handle the adoption process.
The clinic has long been shuttered, and Hicks died in 1972 at age 83. But the building that once housed the clinic still stands, nestled between a barbecue restaurant and a pizza shop, according to Narratively. Several of the Hicks Babies have visited the clinic to see where Hicks passed them through a back window as newborns to their adoptive parents late at night.
The Hicks Babies Are Hoping to Find Their Biological Relatives Through DNA Testing
Jane Blasio has led the charge for the Hicks Babies to find their biological relatives through McCaysville Lost and Found. Her search for her biological parents hit many roadblocks until she met a probate judge, who uncovered records revealing the truth about Hicks’ clinic.
“She didn’t have knowledge of what Dr. Hicks had been doing, and she did not have an allegiance to him or his family,” Blasio told PEOPLE. “And so she went ahead and she perused the birth certificates that he was taking to the county registrar back in the ’50s and ’60s, and found that there were an estimated 200-plus babies that had gone to Akron, Ohio, from the Hicks Clinic.”
Blasio works as a private investigator and is working with other members of the Hicks’ de-facto family to connect those who were illegally adopted to their biological parents and relatives.
“In the 40s, 50s, and 60s, a doctor was selling babies from his small town abortion clinic in the heart of McCaysville, Georgia. Doctor Hicks was NO saint and we recognize his dysfunction, the pain he caused many, and have learned to bear it,” she wrote on her website. “We are the Hicks Babies, parents, health professionals, and genealogists-a search and support group for those connected directly and indirectly to the Hicks Clinic in McCaysville, Georgia.”
In 2014, 30 people traveled to Ducktown, Tennessee for free DNA testing provided to help the Hicks Babies find their relatives, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Among them was Stephen Delbick. Now age 69, he is the oldest of the Hicks Babies.
“In all, 30 people — some Hicks babies, some potential relatives and their supporters — turned out for the testing, performed free by Ohio-based DNA Diagnostic Center,” the newspaper said. “It could take up to three months to test all the participants’ samples, but what’s 90 days compared to the lifetime these baby boomers have been waiting to find their birth families?”