3: Georgia Tann & The Tennessee Children's Home Society

For more information on the Athalia Ponsell Lindsley case, start here.

See also: “St. Augustine: The Socialite and the Politician” City Confidential, Season 2, Episode 7


Georgia Tann, born Beulah George Tann in 1891, ran the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, a Memphis adoption agency, beginning in the 1920s. Tann stole babies in her black market adoption scam that eventually led to an investigation and closure of the facility in 1950. Tann passed away due to cancer before the circumstances of the scandal were fully disclosed to the public.

Tann used various tactics to kidnap children from poor, single, or mentally ill women, later selling them to individuals and families looking to adopt.

The scandal eventually led to massive reforms of adoption laws in Tennessee in the 1950s.

Celebrity Adoptions

  • Joan Crawford: twins Cathy and Cynthia in 1947 (Crawford’s daughter Christina was adopted elsewhere in 1943)

  • June Allyson and Dick Powell: Pamela Allyson Powell in 1948

  • Ric Flair: adopted in or around 1949