Carlina as she looks now. DNA established her identity
YOUNG woman kidnapped from hospital as a baby was yesterday reunited
with her natural family ' 23 years later.
Tears of elation and relief poured down the faces of
and her mother Joy last night as both exclaimed that at last they felt
'It's like being born again,' Carlina, 23, said as she hugged the real
mother and father she had never known but who had never given up on her.
Carlina was kidnapped from a New York hospital in August 1987 when she
was 19 days old.
Parents Joy and Carl had rushed her in with a raging fever and handed
her to someone they thought was a kindly nurse. In fact the nurse was an
Devastated, Joy and Carl made sobbing appeals for their daughter's
return. They were pictured heartbroken next to Carlina's cot, and
investigators issued a photofit of a suspect. But despite a few false
trails no major clues emerged.
After being abducted, Carlina was brought up in Connecticut, less than
an hour's drive from her parents, and renamed Nejdra Nance.
she never felt she belonged and bore no physical resemblance to anyone
in her extended 'family'.
had nagging doubts about her 'mother', especially when she couldn't come
up with her birth certificate.
After becoming pregnant at 16, Carlina reportedly confronted the woman,
who admitted she wasn't her mother.
Carlina moved away to Georgia to bring up her own daughter, Samani, now
six. And she began looking for her roots on the US National Centre for
Missing and Exploited Children website.
jigsaw puzzle came together after Carlina compared baby photos she had
of herself with the one from a 'missing' poster of 23 years earlier and
rang the centre to explain what she suspected.
was a one in a million phone call,' centre director Ernie Allen said of
hearing from Carlina. 'We preach all the time that just because it's
been a week, a month, a year or 23 years, you can't give up.'
few days ago, the centre in turn called Joy White.
may have found your daughter,' a staff member told her.
photos of now adult Carlina were emailed to her she 'went crazy', Joy
knew right away it was her. I screamed and cried,' she added. DNA tests
then confirmed what mother and daughter already knew by instinct.
case is bound to give hope to the parents of other missing children like
McCann, who disappeared in 2007 while on holiday in Portugal.
said of her daughter: 'I never took her picture off my dressing table.'
Police have yet to reveal the identity of the woman who brought up
Carlina, or if any arrests are expected.