Paul Reymann had known for most of his life that he was adopted. However, it was not until he was 35 that he learned his parents had traveled some 600 miles from Akron, Ohio to purchase him from a clinic in a small northern Georgia town just two days after he was born.
It was Mother’s Day of 1997 when Reymann saw a story in the Akron Beacon Journal featuring the story of Jane Blasio who had discovered she had been illegally sold as an infant for $1,000 from a clinic run by Dr. Thomas Hicks in McCaysville, Ga. some three decades earlier.
That’s when he realized the doctor and clinic listed on Blasio’s birth certificate matched his.
After reading the story, Reymann went to his adopted father’s home, slammed the newspaper down on the table in front of him and asked how much was paid for him.
“He told me that my adoptive mom went into the clinic, looked me over and she paid the cash directly to the doctor,” recalled Reymann, whose adopted mother had passed away when he was in the fourth grade. “My dad could not give me a dollar amount.
“Once the money was paid, the doctor told my mom to have my dad drive to the back of the clinic where there was only one door. That’s where they passed me through onto my parents.”
The Reymanns later received a birth certificate for their adopted son that named them as being his biological parents. The document also incorrectly listed the child’s birthdate as being two days later than it actually was in order to match when he was picked up from the clinic.
Hicks, who died in 1972 at the age of 83, is believed to have sold more than 200 newborns to families in the Akron, Ohio area between the 1940s and mid-1960s, according to Blasio. In almost every known case, the mothers were lied to and told their child had died during birth.
After learning the details about his connection to the clinic, Reymann began a search for his biological parents that would ultimately last for more than two decades. With the help of DNA testing earlier this summer, he was able to track down and confirm that his father is Paul H. Jack of Wilson County.
In September, the two met for the first time in person on the front steps of Historic Rose Mont in Gallatin. The moment was featured on an episode of “Inside Edition” last week.
“When I found out that I had Pops… there aren’t words that can describe the emotion,” Reymann told the Gallatin News about the meeting. “It was a birth and baptism at the same time.
“I finally had the best Christmas present that you could ever imagine receiving. I feel like we haven’t missed 57 years.”
Black market baby
Reymann’s history with the Hicks Clinic dates back to June of 1962 when he was adopted at two days old by Bernard and Mary Reymann of Akron, Ohio.
The couple had gotten the number for the clinic from a family member, which they called and were placed on a waiting list for a child after the Catholic Service League told then 48-year-old Mary Reymann that she was too old to adopt from their organization.
“They were extremely loving parents and devoted Catholics,” recalled Reymann, who knew from an early age that he was adopted. “I wanted for nothing. That’s the kind of parents they were.”
“My father didn’t know any more details surrounding any of these adoptions,” he added in reference to the Hicks Clinic. “In his eyes, he thought that the doctor was doing a good service for people.”
Reymann’s biological parents – Paul Jack and Mary Mason – had met at a young age at a grocery store the Mason family owned in Athens, Tenn. where Jack worked.
“Mary would come and just sit and talk to me for hours and hours,” Jack recalled. “We just got to know each other really well. Of course, it developed into a relationship thing.”
While the two never officially dated, they were intimate and in 1961 Mason became pregnant. She was 13 and he was 16.
Jack asked if Mason wanted him to marry her and she declined and told him that her father was going to send her away somewhere to give birth.
“I didn’t know at the time that the child was really mine,” recalled Jack, who is now 74. “She was gone for a period of time, then she came back and everything was quiet. That’s the way it was back then. They didn’t want anybody to know.
“Then, it was forgotten. I never knew any more until about six weeks ago.”
Reymann has since learned from a family member that Mason was wrapped in a blanket and told she was not allowed to look where her father was taking her. At the Hicks Clinic, she was told that her child died during birth and was “the devil and had horns.”
Mason never knew the truth that her son was still alive when she died in 2013.
According to Blasio, only about 50 of the 200-plus children, referred to as Hicks Babies, have been identified and located so far. The number of those who have reunited with a biological parent is even smaller – approximately 15.
The story of Dr. Thomas J. Hicks and what happened at his clinic in McCaysville, Ga. was most recently the focus of a three-part special on TLC called “Taken at Birth,” which aired on the network last week.
The show was a “last ditch opportunity” by Blasio to find any other Hicks Babies like herself and their parents who were lied to and told their child died during birth.
“We’re getting older,” said Blasio, who is now 54. “I’m the last one to come out (of the clinic) that we are aware of and that was in 1965. A lot of the mothers have passed away since then.”
After finding out about the Hicks Clinic in 1997, Reymann had a blood DNA test done, which determined that he was not a sibling to any other children that were known to have been adopted from the clinic.
As for finding his biological parents, Reymann believed for a time that his mother could have been one of his late cousins. After learning she was not, he decided to turn to Ancestry.com for help in 2018.
The DNA test results found one match – his first cousin Julie K. Jack who is Paul Jack’s niece.
With the help of Blasio, Reymann was able to track down his cousin who was able to eventually help determine that his father was her uncle earlier this year.
After their meeting at Historic Rose Mont last month, Reymann spent several days at Jack’s home where the two spent time reviewing family histories and exchanging pictures.
“It’s such an amazing thing,” Jack said. “I committed this sin at 16 and God turned it into a miracle for me at 74.
“It’s just still a whirlwind in my head.”
Since meeting in person, the father and son have talked on the phone or through text messages “pretty much every day,” according to Jack.
There are also plans for Reymann’s two children and four grandchildren to meet their grandfather for the first time later this year when the family travels to Tennessee for Christmas.
“I’m very honored to have a man like Paul Jack as my father,” Reymann said. “He could have just swept all of (his past) under the rug and I’d still be out there wondering. That says to me the character of that man I felt when I met him. He is a man of great character, strong faith in the Lord and I just knew that everything was okay when I hugged him.”