Georgia Tann may have facilitated the most adoptions in the history of the United States (believed to be from 5,000-10,000 children impacted over 3 decades of time) but there were others pursuing the same opportunity to enrich themselves by taking children from unmarried, white girls and placing them into wealthy homes – whatever the market would meet. The time period is known as the Baby Scoop Era and it’s range was approximately the end of World War II and the early 1970s. The social mores of that time period were a factor as well.
One such “business person” was Dr. Thomas J. Hicks, who sold or gave away more than 200 infants from the ’40s to the ’60s. Some of the infants were illegally placed through a local Akron OH woman who was a black-market adoption channel.
Most of the girls who went to the Hicks Clinic were young, unwed and poor, trapped in a depressed mid-century Appalachian mining community. Many were teenagers whose parents were struggling to feed the mouths already under their roofs. An unplanned pregnancy had serious consequences, even beyond the obvious social stigma.
The TLC network will highlight this story in a six part, three night special titled Taken at Birth.
Dr Hicks was a father of three, who was married to a Baptist Sunday school teacher. Hicks died at age 83 in 1972. At the time he died, Hicks was without a medical license, having surrendered it to avoid prosecution following his 1964 arrest for performing abortions.
A local probate judge who didn’t have any knowledge of what Dr. Hicks had been doing, and so had no allegiance to him or his family, decided to look into the situation. There were an estimated 200-plus babies that had gone to Akron Ohio from the Hicks Clinic.
Two hundred babies? To Akron?
Hicks started out from compassion but soon saw there was money to be made and turned his efforts into a business. Dr. Hicks housed pregnant mothers in the attached apartments to the right of his clinic and at his farm and in an abandoned telephone company building. A local woman in Akron OH then informed desperate, childless couples who paid $1,000 per baby that their baby was ready for pick-up. Most of the babies were passed through the back door of the clinic along with a forged birth certificate. No record of biological parents was maintained making it particularly difficult for “Hicks Babies” to discover their roots.
McCaysville Lost and Found serves to facilitate searches and provides a communal link for Hicks Babies and their families. Their mission is to support of those beginning, in the middle of or who have already completed their birth quest.