"They can't stop touching one another, they can't stop looking at one another -- their faces mirrors of each other's past and future.This is not an adoption story, but one of abduction and kidnapping, yet the parallels are not lost to us. The young woman who was abducted from Harlem Hospital in 1987 when she was 19-days old found her own true real family herself by checking on the Internet for babies that were missing that year, and came across a baby picture that looked like her own child--and a baby picture she had of herself. Carlina became suspicious when her "mother" could not come up with a birth certificate or Social Security number. She had left home at seventeen.
"Cuddled on a couch in a Midtown hotel suite last night, Joy White and long-lost daughter Carlina began to bridge 23 years that were stolen from them, each telling The Post in exclusive interviews that now, at last, "I feel complete."
"'When I see my mother, I see myself,' said the vivacious 5-foot-2 Carlina, who could not tear her eyes from Joy. 'I see the smile, the lips the chin, and the legs -- we all have flat knees,' she giggled. 'I'm just amazed. I feel like I'm in a dream. I see my face in both my parents. I get my eyes from my father.'
"Looking around the hotel room at her dad, Carl Tyson, mom Joy and other ecstatic relatives, all the terrible years apart seemed hardly to matter. 'Talking to her doesn't feel disconnected,' Carlina said. 'They were always there, but just missing. Now I feel complete.'
"Watching her grown-up baby girl, Joy burst with pride. 'I see myself, too,' she marveled. 'I see my face, but with a smaller body,' sweetly hugging the daughter she had longed to hold. 'I see Carl in her eyes. I see my forehead, my eyebrows, my chin. 'She's just like me,' Joy said, laughing. 'We like the same colors. We like our houses to be clean. We can't go to sleep without the dishes being washed.'
"The mom and daughter listened to one another's memories of years missing so much."
Here's more than the Today Show this morning about this case:
>>>Ann Curry: a woman helped break her own cold case and find her family more than 20 years after she was abducted as a baby. Tom Lamas is from WNBC and he's got more details for us. Tom, good morning.
>> Good morning, Ann. In August of 1987, a teenage mother came to this hospital because her infant was sick. That mother would leave the hospital sick herself, heart-broken with endless depression, her baby was gone, kidnapped from right here and no one could tell her who had her child. 23 years ago, the unthinkable happened to new mom, Joy White....and for more than two decades, the Whites would never see or hear from their little girl.
>> She was broken. She was broken for so long. [Referring to Joy White, the mother of the missing baby. Sound like he could be describing any of us?]
>> Reporter: Just when the case couldn't get any colder, last month Atlanta resident 23-year-old Nejdra Nance reportedly learned the woman who raised her wasn't her biological mother.
>> Around Christmas The Center for Missing and Exploited Children received a phone call through our 24-hour hotline from this young woman who indicated that she was suspicious about her past. She had questions about who she really was...and they opened up their cold case files.
>> She says, Wow, that looks like me. She takes out her own baby photo and says, I look like the same person.
>> Reporter: Nance reached out to Joy White and agreed to meet. This week, DNA confirmed with what the family had already known.
>> I knew it anyway.
>> Reporter: Mother and daughter, reunited.
>> Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah.
Ann Curry: Dr. Janet Taylor is a psychiatrist here in New York City.....Janet, it's hard to imagine the psychological ramifications here. How would you describe it for this family?
>> Boh have been traumatized. You had early-life trauma, but also that feeling like I just don't belong. And then, you know, the family showing so much faith saying -- keeping their number with the Center for Exploited Children. So it all came together. But recovery is the right word. With so much joy I think this family is definitely on the road to recovery.
>>Ann Curry: But this means that now she has to feel like she belongs in this family that she's not known.
>> Taylor: But clearly she belongs. Her mom having the name--Joy is the right word. They have love. There will be difficult times, but they'll put the pieces together, stay in the moment and work on re-creating a new relationship as adults and thankfully themselves.
Thankfully themselves. Did she really say that?
Now that Carlina/Nedra is with her own, true family, she can be "thankfully herself." Her true self.
So we hear and read all this about a reunion after a kidnapping and a 23-years of separation, and everybody says, Oh,well, there will be much they have to make up and get to know one another, but the long lost child is going to fit right in! Yet when we try to make this same point--though we keep our mouths shut in front of the adoptive family, if we are allowed to meet them at all--we are shot down by so many....adoptees who want to act as if they don't belong in our families and aren't they glad they were raised by someone else, adoptive parents who want to deny that the "child" in question has anything in common with their biological/blood/first/birth families, when they have so very much in common, and all the friends of the adoptive family.
Now of course I'm not talking about everyone--there are wonderful adoptive parents who understand, truly understand even if it shocks them and they feel the sting of suddenly being the outsider--but how this reunion is treated in the mind's eye of the public is so very different from how the reunions between adoptees and their biological families is looked upon. However, this ought to be the norm--that people everywhere understand that coming home to your real family is going to be a reason for joy. It doesn't have to mean a rejection of the family who raised you if it was a good family but...it's not the same as the one where you belong.
And then there are the other kinds of stories, where a person who was adopted was raised in a different social class--higher than his origins, and better educated too--those adoptees seem to have a different reaction to their birth parents. It shows up in their memoirs--Sarah Saffian in Ithaka, A.M. Holmes in The Mistress's Daughter--and the barely hidden disdain they feel towards these people who are less educated and refined than they were raised.
Let's hope that this story--that of Carlina and Joy and her father, Carl (after whom she was presumably named)--registers on some level with the great unwashed public so that when they do hear about a first/birth family reunion, they "get" it.
One last thought, directed to first mothers: If there is a first mother out there who is afraid of reuniting with your child, who has turned down the reunion in the past, take the teaching moment for all of America and reach out to that child of yours. Let him or her know who he is, where she came from, let her look into your eyes and see her own reflected there. Let her have peace and let the peace of reunion come flooding into your own heart. Every day you delay denies you of comfort and peace, not only for yourself, but for your daughter or son. Take this moment to make that phone call, to write that letter, to hit "FRIEND" on Facebook.
Tomorrow may never come. Tomorrow may be too late.--lorraine
Addendum, added 9/12/11: As a reader has reminded us, reunion ain't all roses. For more see:
Why birth/natural mother-adoptee reunions go awry
When birth/natural mother-adoptee reunions go awry, Part 2