Children of illegal adoption clinic look to find family decades later
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
Paul Payne has known since the age of 5 that he was adopted. Born in McCaysville, Georgia he grew up in Florida but never knew the story behind his adoption until the 90's when news broke of an off the book clinic in McCaysville that operated in the 1950's and 60's.
"We found that there were at least 200 of us so you weren't in it by yourself anymore, you weren't wondering all those questions by yourself," Payne says.
Besides Payne's, only three names were on the birth certificate, the adopting mother and father plus the doctor, Thomas Hicks.
"Doctor Hicks was basically an old country doctor, pretty good one from what everyone said," says Payne.
Debate continues whether Hicks sold the babies on the black market or was acting with compassion to help parents, both expecting children and looking to adopt.
"If he made a profit, I don't believe he made very much," Payne says.
However, the time to point fingers has passed. As the years go by Hick's adopted babies, now adults in their 50's and 60's want to find answers, possibly for the first and last time.
"This is more or less to us, its probably our last chance to connect," says Payne.
That's why Diane Warner is traveling from Michigan back to the town she was born in where, just maybe, her biological parents still live.
"Its hard to imagine what they're like. Were they young, were they poor, did they have too many children they just couldn't afford? That's the biggest answer I'd like to know, why," Warner asks.
"You can't expect to find a large ratio of matches but even one is worth it," Payne says.
Hicks passed away in the early 70's, the clinic he operated has been shut down for decades. DNA testing will take place from 10 until 2 p.m. Saturday at the Ocoee River Inn in nearby Ducktown, Tennessee.