Stephen Dilbeck was the first baby Dr. Thomas Hicks sold out of his small-town clinic in McCaysville, George.
Dilbeck lived most of his life never knowing the truth about his origins. He was one of 200 babies Hicks allegedly sold illegally to adoptive parents in Akron, Ohio. Dilbeck and many of the others, known as “Hicks Babies,” began to learn the truth about their birth when Jane Blasio, the youngest Hicks Baby, uncovered the truth during her investigation into her own story.
Dilbeck is hoping to learn the truth about his biological mother during his appearance on Taken At Birth, a three-part TLC special airing October 9, 10 and 11 at 9 p.m. EST. He lives in Blue Mountain, Georgia with his wife, Ruth, and has children and grandchildren of his own. He is proud of his Christian faith, often wearing a hat that says “I love Jesus.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Stephen Dilbeck Drove to Tennessee for a DNA Test, Along With Other Hicks Babies, in 2014
Dilbeck’s appearance on Taken At Birth is far from his first attempt to locate his birth mother. In 2014, he and many other Hicks Babies drove to Ducktown, Tennessee, to have their DNA tested in hopes of locating their biological relatives, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Then 64, Hicks made the 15 mile drive across the border from his home in Blue Ridge, Georgia to Tennessee. Thirty people participated in the testing, according to relatives of the Hicks Babies, the newspaper reported. The group had an uncommon bond. Although they did not share blood, they shared a strong connection.
“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?”
2. Stephen Dilbeck Is the Oldest of the 200 Hicks Babies Sold by Dr. Thomas Hicks from a McCaysville, Georgia Clinic
Stephen Dilbeck is the oldest of the “Hicks Babies,” a nickname given to the 200 babies Dr. Thomas Hicks sold from his clinic in the small town of McCaysville, Georgia. The “Hicks Babies” are now grown and many have babies and grandbabies of their own. Dilbeck is the oldest of the Hicks Babies at age 69, according to TLC’s Taken At Birth.
Hicks’ illegal adoptions stopped in 1964 with Jane Blasio, who eventually broke the case while investigating in search of her own biological parents. Hicks would forge birth certificates which would list the adoptive parents as the parents, and list the place of birth in McCaysville, Georgia. The forgery practice kept the black market adoption process concealed, but also erased any trace of the biological parents for the Hicks Babies, according to Narratively.
“I wish I would have been given the opportunity to know my mother,” Dilbeck said on the show.
3. Stephen Dilbeck & His Wife Live in Blue Ridge, Georgia, Just 10 Miles from His Birthplace
Stephen Dilbeck, 69, and his wife, Ruth, live in Blue Ridge, Georgia. He lives only about 10 miles from McCaysville, Georgia, where he was born and given up for illegal adoption. Although he was so close to the place where his mother gave birth to him, he said on Taken At Birth he thought he would never find his mother and buried the urge to seek her out.
“I tried to bury a lot of it because it hurt so bad,” he said.
Dr. Thomas Hicks ran the Hicks Community Clinic in the small town, which sits just on the edge of the Tennessee border. Many of the Hicks Babies’ birth certificates listed their places of birth accurately as McCaysville, Georgia. But the birth certificates were forged to erase the true birth parents of the children.
The clinic is shuttered but still stands in a plaza between a pizza shop and a barbecue restaurant, according to Narratively. It was there that infants were delivered and passed through a back window late at night to adoptive parents.
4. Stephen Dilbeck Is a Member of the Yaarab Shriners Based in Atlanta, Georgia
Stephen Dilbeck is a member of the Yaarab Shriners, which is based in Atlanta, Georgia. His wife’s Facebook page shows him actively involved with the Shriners Yaarab Temple, participating in activities including a parade.
The Atlanta branch, like many Shrine Temples, is known for its work with Shriners Hospitals for Children and the Shrine Circus. The Atlanta faction supports the Atlanta Rollergirls, a roller derby league, and the Atlanta Jugglers Association, according to its website.
“Shriners are a brotherhood of men committed to family, engaged in ongoing personal growth, and dedicated to providing care for children and families in need,” the mission statement on its international website says. “Our backgrounds and interests are diverse, but we are bound together by our shared values and a desire to have fun, do good and build relationships that can last a lifetime.”
5. Stephen Dilbeck Is Married & Has Children & Grandchildren
Stephen Dilbeck is married to Ruth Dilbeck. They have been married for 42 years, since December 4, 1976, according to his wife’s Facebook page. The couple also has children and grandchildren.
Dilbeck appears to be actively involved in the lives of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Ruth has shared pictures of him attending his grandchildren’s graduations and holding some of the youngest members of the family.
One touching picture shows Dilbeck holding his great-grandson for the first time. The baby was surrounded by family members soon after his birth, as Dilbeck should have been when he was born.
Instead, Dilbeck was passed through the back window of a clinic and sold.