In the mid-1940s, Dr. Thomas Jugarthy Hicks opened the Hicks Community Clinic in the small town of McCaysville, Georgia, mere steps from the Tennessee state line. Within a decade, he was not only performing illegal abortions but selling newborns on the black market. Some birth mothers knew they were placing a baby for adoption, some thought they had an abortion, and some were told their infants died.
At the other end of the transaction, adoptive parents drove to a window in the alley behind the clinic, shelled out $1,000 or more—big money for the time—and were handed a newborn. The so-called “Hicks Babies” had falsified birth certificates, and Dr Hicks kept no records tying them to their biological families. Many had no idea they were adopted until well into adulthood.
There was a tip-off, though. No matter where they grew up—most often in the industrial cities of Ohio—their birth certificates said they were born in the Hicks Clinic in McCaysville, Georgia.
At least 200 babies had their identities stolen. Now, they are using the power of DNA to reunite with their biological families. I am honored to be part of the behind-the-scenes team of passionate and compassionate people who helped some of them in their journeys.
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Bragg, Rick. 1997. Town Secret Is Uncovered In Birth Quest. New York Times, accessed 17 September 2019.
Bruen, Matthew Steven. 2016. Babies For Sale: The Secret Adoptions That Haunt One Georgia Town. Narratively, accessed 17 September 2019.
Chang, Juju, Jasmine Brown, Geoff Martz and Lauren Effron. 2015. ‘Hicks Baby’ Adoptee Sold by Georgia Doctor 50 Years Ago Reunites With Birth Mother, Brother. ABC News, accessed 17 September 2019.
Table, Dave. 2017. Busted not for selling babies, but for the abortion clinic. Appalachian History, accessed 17 September 2019.