TLC’s ‘Taken at Birth’ and the True Stories of Georgia’s Hicks Babies

Credit: Maarten de Boer

Some babies were stolen at birth. Others were given away at birth as their desperate, dirt-poor mothers simply couldn’t afford another mouth to feed. In all, hundreds of babies were born and illegally sold out of Hicks Community Clinic in McCaysville, Ga., in the early 1950s to mid 1960s, their real identities completely erased.

This lucrative, black-market baby operation was the work of Dr. Thomas Hicks, an abortion doctor well-known for being able to fix female problems for about $100. Hicks pretty much ran this tiny copper-mining town located in the backwoods of northern Georgia. He assumed a godlike role, deciding who was worthy of children and who wasn’t, and sold many of the babies to desperate couples in the Cleveland-Akron area.

Jane Blasio was one of those babies. Her adoptive parents went to the back of Hicks’ clinic, where they were handed baby Jane with dried blood on her — not knowing if she would survive.

“From the time I was 5 or 6, when my adoptive parents told my sister and I that we were adopted, and that I knew it was black market, that it was illegal, [I was interested],” Blasio explained. “I always had this kind of cloud in the back that was, ‘I got to find my birth family. I have to find them.’”

Blasio’s journey to find other Hicks babies and help them find information about their birth parents is told in the TLC three-night series Taken at Birth (Oct. 9-11 at 9pm ET/PT). Helping her in this story of loss and reunion are Long Lost Family hosts Chris Jacobs and Lisa Joyner, adoptees themselves.

Having dedicated her life to learning the truth about Hicks and serving as the lead investigator in this case, Blasio was able to find her birth parents through DNA registries. “My mother is alive, but she is denying that she had me,” she shared. “My father had passed, gosh, almost 20 years ago, so he was much older. I have a sister and three brothers on that side.”

But with knowledge also comes some closure. “I know everything about what I had been seeking,” she said. “I’m so thankful for the DNA registries and how DNA technology has moved forward so much. If we would have had that same DNA database and the internet back in ’97-98, I’m estimating about 90% of our cases would have been closed and we would have had birth families for them, but we’re working with what we have now.”

11 Comments

  1. We are looking for sister from a black market adoption. Someone should do a story on the black market adoptions out of Margaret Hague Hospital in Jersey City, NJ. Look up the 1962 case of State vs Faye Wasserman. Dr Faber, another doc and a few nurses were doing the same as Dr. Hicks. So many were illegally adopted, the courts decided to not place them back w/their biological parents and their adoption files were sealed. There is speculation that close to 1000 babies were part of this in the metro NY/NJ area in the late 50’s early 60’s.

  2. After watching the series I am left to wonder if some of the mothers who came to the clinic for abortions left believing that had received an abortion. Ms. Blasio found that many of the children were born weighing less than 5 lbs. Dr. Lee in the series stated this may have put their gestational age at 31-32 weeks. This would be the time it would be almost impossible to hide a pregnancy. Dr. Hicks found a way to play God delivering preterm babies and selling them before they could pass away. I know this was not the case of all of the mother’s stories that were known. Some were told the child was stillborn or had died. They stated that the adoptive parents were called and told they had to be there in 12 hours. I believe that he was calling them before some of these babies were born, inducing labor and handing these fragile preterm infants over in exchange for what in today’s prices would be around $7500.00. He cared little if some of these children died on their trip north and some of them most certainly did. There is much more to this story I am sure. I do hope that the “Hick’s Babies” receive the closure they deserve.

  3. How many episodes were there? I had it set up to dvr and got 4 episodes. Were there more than that?
    Will they air again?
    I also did notice that is was poorly done, we seen a lot of the same thing over and over, and we seen a lot of trees, water, road and sky in between things that happened to take up space. This could have been done in one night in a 2 to 3 hour show without so many commercials, thank goodness for fast forward.

    • All I got was episodes 1 thru 5 recorded. I can’t find any way to find that last episode. I’m going crazy with suspense.

  4. I have lived in or close to Mccaysville my entire life. I have worked in the area for 35 years. You should talk to me. I know a lot of people I could connect you with who might know names of women who went to the clinic. My mother for one. We want to help these people.

  5. Please look into the butter box babies. Even today the survivors are looking to find their birth families. A book and movie is based on this illegal black market situation.

  6. There is another leg to this “Baby/abortion ” market in another town in North Carolina not far from the Hicks Clinic. In addition One might find additional families mixed with the Hick’s blood in north east Georgia.

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