A 51-year-old woman who was taken away from her biological family and sold on the black market was finally able to reunite with her birth mom and brother in 2015.
While it's a privilege to grow up in a loving family with affectionate parents, sometimes children can find themselves questioning their very existence. This is particularly true for people who are raised by adoptive families.
Kristin Hughes was lucky to have an adoptive father who always loved and cared for her. He was particularly supportive when it came to his daughter's quest for her birth parents, including the many questions she had in her head.
Kriste Hughes pictured with her birth mom, Thelma Tipton. | Photo: twitter.com/Ancestry
SOLD ON THE BLACK MARKET
Hughes was born in MacCaysville, Georgia, and was immediately handed over to a couple who had apparently bought her for $1,000 from Dr. Thomas Jugarthy Hicks, an evil and corrupt physician who had done the same to several other babies.
Apparently, Dr. Hicks had prepared her falsified birth certificate. At the time of Hughes' birth, he had informed her mother, Thelma Tipton, that her daughter was stillborn. The sad mother had lived her life thinking her daughter had never made it.
Just like her birth mom, Hughes had spent her entire life wondering about her familial roots. When she found out about her adoption, she couldn't have remotely thought that there were dark details about her life she had no idea about.
When she found out that she had been sold on the black market by Dr. Hicks, she didn't know how to reach out to her birth family. But her life changed when an investigation by ABC News' "Nightline" helped her see her birth mom for the first time.
The program's research team had tracked down Hughes and several others, calling them "Hicks Babies." They had also taken help from an ancestry website, running DNA tests and connecting the Hicks Babies to their respective biological family members.
Through Ancestry.com, the program's team found Hughes' first cousin and her family living in Georgia. As it turned out, Dr. Hicks had run his evil scheme from 1950 through 1965. He had sold more than 200 babies on the black market for $800-$1,000.
He specialized in not only the illegal selling of babies but also unlawful abortions. After finding out eye-opening details about her personal identity and Dr. Hicks' unscrupulous actions, Hughes was taken aback. Talking to ABC News, she shared:
"I know this is real, but I'm still kind of in shock (sic)."
While many expecting mothers willingly gave their babies to him, there were a few like Tipton, who had no intention of abandoning their baby. Dr. Hicks had told her that her child had a bad heart and made her sign her baby's false death certificate.
Dr. Hicks' medical license was revoked in 1964 for performing an illegal abortion, but he was never held accountable for his baby-selling scheme while he was alive. He died in 1972. Recalling the heart-wrenching experience, 75-year-old Tipton added:
"He stole my daughter. He robbed me of my life… I missed out seeing her growing up, missed out on her first tooth… her first day in school… I missed out on her wedding, I missed out on everything (sic)."
Hughes was finally able to meet her birth mom and brother in a tearful reunion. Her brother, Roger Tipton, shared how much he had missed having a sister growing up. He also condemned Dr. Hicks' corrupt actions that tore his family apart.
ANOTHER HICKS BABY
It seems that Hughes wasn't the only one deprived of being with her birth family. 55-year-old John Stapleton discovered dark details about his adoption story in a newspaper article. The Akron, Ohio man and his adopted sister, Cyndy, were black-market babies.
Stapleton was reunited with his half-sister, Atress Davis, with whom he shared a father. The two siblings had matching DNA tree tattoos on their backs. Sadly, his father didn't have any interest in meeting his long-lost children.
Regardless, Stapleton was happy for the little closure he got with his sister, even though he was left with unanswered questions. We only hope that what he, Hughes, and other Hicks Babies endured doesn't happen to anyone ever again.
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