“It all started innocently enough.”
Like so many adults who grew up knowing they were adopted, Jane Blasio wanted answers.
For years Blasio had known the couple who raised her in Akron, Ohio, were not her biological parents, and the little information she had to go on indicated her adoption may have not have been a by-the-books affair.
“My adoptive father gave me an idea it was a little shady,” she told InsideEdition.com. “That they had paid cash for me.”
But the truth she uncovered was more sinister than she could have ever anticipated, nor could she have imagined that in her search for answers, a small town’s secrets would be thrust into the spotlight.
Blasio was one of about 200 infants placed in an illegal black-market baby ring run out of a small Georgia clinic by Dr. Thomas J. Hicks during the 1950s and 1960s. Her journey in uncovering her own story and helping others learn their own is the subject of TLC’s three-night special, “Taken at Birth,” which premiered Wednesday.
The story is expected to shock many, but for Blasio, this has been a reality she has long lived with.
Armed with the knowledge that she, her sister and a cousin had all come from the same clinic in McCaysville, Blasio traveled to the Appalachian hamlet for answers. The trip would prove to not be a one-off.
“I was searching for 14 years,” she said. “I was meeting with people in the backs of parking lots, when it got dark out … I had a lot of pushback.”
Many in the area didn’t want to go up against the legacy of Hicks, who died at the age of 83 in 1972.
Blasio was undeterred.
“It was just an investigation, and I don’t like being told no,” she said. “I think that’s the mark of a good investigator: You don’t stop there, you find a way.”
Her way was a local judge who examined the birth certificates Hicks submitted to the county registrar and found approximately 200 babies were sent to Akron from the doctor’s clinic.
“I’d been doing the search for myself for so long,” Blasio said. “I thought, 'If I have a group, they can’t ignore me then.' I went to a newspaper and asked them to put a note out.”
The note ran on Mother’s Day 1997, she said. It did not go unnoticed.
“There was a big media circus, ’Hicks babies’ came forward, adoptive parents came forward,” she said. “This is human trafficking.”
Those revelations spurred Blasio on to continue searching for answers.
“Beyond my own search, my sister’s search … the only reason I do this, it is the most satisfying thing to help someone else,” she said.
Partnered with Lisa Joyner and Chris Jacobs, the hosts of TLC’s “Long Lost Family,” and aided with today’s advanced DNA technology, the TLC special follows Blasio as she continues her work to help her fellow Hicks babies and hold accountable those who may have been complicit in the baby ring.
“This is a dark story; Dr. Hicks was selling babies … lying to mothers, but it’s a story of restoration – Hicks babies finding their truth. It’s not always perfect, not always wonderful; it is restoration,” she said.
Her hope is that the special spurs on others to search for their own answers and serves as encouragement to never give up.
“If you’re an adoptee or there’s something in your life that you’re looking to find truth in, don’t stop,” she said. “Keep digging. Keep going.”
It’s a mantra Blasio has taken to heart.
“I’ll never stop investigating this,” she said. “It’s only the tip of the iceberg.”
“Taken at Birth” airs on TLC Oct. 9-11 from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET/PT.