A woman who was searching for her biological parents has recounted how she discovered she was taken from her birth mother and sold on the black market by a corrupt doctor.
Jane Blasio, 56, from Akron, Ohio, was one of the hundreds of babies who were trafficked out the back door of Dr. Thomas J. Hicks’s small-town clinic in McCaysville, Georgia, from the 1940s through the 1960s.
‘My father knew [that Hicks’ actions were illegal], but my mother just wanted a baby and didn’t want to know anything, so my dad was going to do whatever would make her happy,’ she told People magazine.
Black market adoption: Jane Blasio, 56, from Akron, Ohio, was one of the hundreds of babies who were sold out of Dr. Thomas J. Hicks’s clinic in McCaysville, Georgia
Horrifying discovery: Both Blasio and her older sister Michelle were illegally adopted by their parents, Jim and Joan. The family is pictured in the late 1960s
The federal law enforcement officer wrote about her decades-long pursuit to uncover the truth and reunite Hicks’s other victims in her new book, Taken at Birth: Stolen Babies, Hidden Lies, and My Journey to Finding Home, which will be published on July 13.
Blasio was six years old when her father, Jim, and mother, Joan, sat her and her 11-year-old sister Michelle down in the kitchen and announced that they were adopted.
‘It’s like that moment was burned into me,’ she said of that fateful day in 1971.
She was 14 when she saw her birth certificate, which named the Hicks Clinic and illegally listed Jim and Joan as her parents.
Scheme: From the 1940s through the 1960s, Hicks (pictured) sold more than 200 newborns to out-of-state couples, many of which hailed from the Akron area
Looking back: Hicks was forced to close his clinic in 1964 after being charged with performing illegal adoptions, but the building (pictured) still stands today
Crime: The black market adoptions took place out the back door of Hicks Clinic (pictured present day)
Blasio turned to her local library, searching for any information she could find on Hicks and his practice as she tried to piece together details from her past.
She explained on her website that her birth search began in the early ’80s when she turned 18. Before Joan died of cancer, she made her husband Jim promise to tell their daughters everything.
In 1988, a 23-year-old Blasio visited McCaysville for the first time looking for answers, one of many trips following her mother’s death.
What she learned from her father and three decades of research horrified her: she and her sister Michelle were black market babies.
Investigation: Blasio was told she was adopted when she was six, but it wasn’t until she was a teenager that she the discrepancies on her birth certificate
Pursuit: Blasio (pictured in third grade photo) uncovered the truth behind Hicks and his human trafficking scheme after more than 13 years of personal investigation
‘My parents bought a child in a way that gave me no option but to search and possibly find no answers,’ she told People. ‘That’s not love, that’s desperation.’
Blasio broke the story of Hicks and his clinic in 1997, after more than 13 years of personal investigation, according to her website.
The revered town doctor sold more than 200 babies, many of which were illegally adopted by Midwestern couples from the Akron area.
Hicks performed illegal abortions at his clinic, but he would sometimes convince his patients to carry their babies full-term and allow him to handle the adoptions, WCYC reported in 2018.
Life’s work: Blasio has spent years helping other Hicks Clinic victims find their biological families
Spreading the word: Blasio’s research has turned her into an expert on black market adoptions, and she has appeared on a number of news networks
Candid: In 2019, she shared her story on TLC’s three-part series Taken At Birth
In other instances, he would tell mothers their babies were stillborn and sell them off to eager families.
He charged anywhere from $100 to $1,000 for the infants — now known as ‘Hicks Babies’ — and forged birth certificates that didn’t include the names of the biological parents,
Story: Blasio wrote about her pursuit to piece together her past in her new book
Hicks was forced to give up his medical license in 1964 after being charged with performing illegal abortions, but his human trafficking scheme remained a mystery.
He died in 1972 at age 83 — 25 years before the truth was uncovered
Blasio’s research has turned her into an expert on black market adoptions, and she has appeared on a number of news networks over years.
In 2019, she shared her story on TLC’s three-part series Taken At Birth.
She is still working to help other victims find their biological families through her website and McCaysville Lost and Found, a support group for those connected to the Hicks Clinic.
‘Hearts heal when truth is revealed and restored to those who have lost medical and historical ties through illegal and legal adoption,’ she wrote on her website.
‘As [a] researcher and “adoptee” searching my entire life for family, I want you to know to keep digging and moving forward and you’re not alone.’