Hicks Babies Scandal: A Dark Chapter in The History of Adoption


Yesterday I was going through a few old newspaper cuttings in my office to search more about some scandals and the role of DNA tests in them. I came across the Hicks Babies scandal, the biggest tragic and shocking part in the history of adoption in the United States. In the mid-20th century, Dr. Thomas J. Hicks conducted the illegal adoption of hundreds of babies from his clinic in McCaysville, Georgia. This scandal remained hidden until the late 1990s, when the truth of the illegal adoptions began to surface everywhere. In this blog, I have covered every possible detail of the Hicks Babies scandal, how it happened, its consequences, and the demands for identity and justice by the affected persons.

Brief information of Hicks Babies

Aspect Details 
Who is behind the scandal? Dr. Thomas J. Hicks, physician in McCaysville, Georgia
When did it happen? 1940s to 1960s
Where did it happen? Hicks Clinic, McCaysville, Georgia
How many Hicks babies are related to Dr Hicks  Approximately 200-300 
Cost of adoption of Hicks Babies $800 to $1,000 per baby
Illegal Methods of Adoption  Falsified birth certificates, secrecy, and deception
Discovery  of truth 1990s, through media and DNA testing
Impact on victims  Emotional and legal challenges for adoptees, biological parents, and adoptive parents
Present efforts Advocacy groups, DNA testing, legal reforms

Who Was Dr. Thomas J. Hicks?

Dr. Thomas J. Hicks was a physician in the small town of McCaysville, Georgia. In addition to his legal medical practice, Hicks operated an illegal adoption network largely from the 1940s to the 1960s. He used to sell babies, often without the knowledge or consent of their biological parents, to couples across the United States. Hicks exploited helpless women, promised them to help with unwanted pregnancies, only to sell their babies for personal profit.

Hicks Illegal Adoption Network

  • Acquisition of Babies

Hicks primarily acquired babies from unmarried women who came to him for help with their pregnancies. Many of these women were young, poor, and without support. Hicks would often tell them their babies had died during childbirth, while in reality, he sold the babies to adoptive parents.

  • Selling the Babies

The babies were sold for prices ranging from $800- $1,000. The adoptive parents were typically told that the biological parents had willingly given up their children. Birth certificates were falsified, listing the adoptive parents as the biological parents to cover up the illegal transactions.

  •  Keeping it Secret

Hicks’ clinic operated under a veil of secrecy. The town of McCaysville was complicit, as the illegal activities brought in money and business. Local authorities either turned a blind eye or were unaware of the extent of Hicks’ operations.

Hicks Babies

Discovery the truth of Scandal

  • Breaking the Silence

The scandal began to open up in the 1990s when some of the adopted children who were grown into  adults started looking for information about their origins. News reports and journalism investigation brought light to the issue, revealing the Hicks Babies scandal of the illegal adoptions in the country.


  • DNA Testing

With advancements in DNA testing, many of the “Hicks Babies” have been able to trace their biological roots. Few genealogy websites and their 

DNA databases have played an important role in reuniting some of the adoptees with their biological families.

  • Legal and Emotional Battles among families 

The discovery of the Hicks Babies truth has led to many  legal and emotional tussles among families. Many of the adoptees and their biological families have struggled with the emotional impact of the truth. This led to the rise of legal challenges, particularly due to the fake birth certificates and the limitations on prosecuting those involved in the case.

  1. Impact on the Victims of Hicks tragedy 
  • Adoptees

For the adoptees, knowing their true origins has been a difficult experience. While some have found a sense of closure and identity, others have faced significant emotional turmoil. It’s quite distressing for them to know about their illegal adoptions and their biological parents. 

  • Biological Parents

The biological parents had different sets of challenges. The discovery of the truth about their alive children causes immense pain and anger. Reunion with their children also fills them with a sense of grief for the years lost. 

  • Adoptive Parents

For the adoptive parents, the revelation about  the children they raised were adopted illegally has been shocking. Many have accepted the fact to support such a criminal investigation in a desire to have a child. 

Efforts for Justice and Reconciliation of Hicks Babies

  •  Advocacy and Support Groups

Several advocacy and support groups have emerged to help the victims of the Hicks Babies  scandal. These groups help people emotionally, help them in connecting with their biological families, and demand for justice and administrative changes to stop any such situations like these in future.

  • Adjustments to the Law

People started to demand for more strict laws that govern the adoption system. The scandal raises the demand for transparency in the adoption process. To make the adoption process more ethical and legal, changes have been made in legislations to protect the rights of all the parties involved 

  • Public Awareness

The Hicks babies scandal raises the awareness among the public to be cautious of such scandals for the future. The media and journalism helped in giving Dr. Hicks babies updates and in spreading public awareness through documentaries, news reports and books. People learn the importance of ethical adoptions and the danger of illegal adoption practices.


As we come to the end of the blog, I hope you get a clear reminder of the flaws in the adoption system and the disastrous effects of unethical behavior provided by the Hicks Babies scandal. Their stories demonstrate the need for ongoing awareness, assistance, and reform in adoption procedures even though many of the victims are still working toward justice and recovery. Adoption ethics and transparency will hopefully improve in the future thanks to the bravery of those impacted and the work of advocacy groups. 

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