Right now in NY State, there are 115 missing kids. Their families are constantly wondering what happened. Now, a story is providing tremendous amounts of hope.
Steve Carter would never have imagined the turn his life would take in his early thirties. At 6 months old, he was placed in an orphanage in Hawaii. Three years later he was adopted. "I grew up with them and never really wondered who my biological parents were. Everybody always asked, oh don't you wonder? And I never did. I grew up in a great home, lots of love, very supportive family. It wasn't until 3 years ago that I started to wonder about those missing six months and my mother listed on my birth certificate," Carter says.
A news story in 2011 caught his attention. Carlina White was kidnapped from a New York City hospital when she was just 19 days old. Two decades later she found herself on the website, www.missingkids.com That story made Steve curious about his past.
"I had a couple of minutes over lunch went to the website, I put in Hawaii, male and 34 years and low and behold Marx Panama Barnes was the first missing child in Hawaii and the picture, composite picture the center for missing children put together, looked surprisingly like me," he says.
"They age progressed the infant picture along with the use of other family pictures to the age of about 28 and what happened with Steve is he went on our website and was trying to find out information about any infants that may have been missing around the same time frame. And he saw his age progression and for him it was like looking in a mirror, a startling resemblance," says Ed Suk.
He is the Executive Director of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children NY Region. That's the organization behind www.missingkids.com.
"When you see the work that goes into an age progression. The dilligence that goes into that and you see this type of a miraculous recovery, based on that kind of skill, it really is incredible and gives us a lot of hope and certainly gives a lot of hope to the families who are out there every day looking for their missing loved ones. It's a beautiful thing," Suk says.
In Steve's case, it took ten months to confirm through dna testing, what he already knew .
"I pretty much knew the minute I saw it and I opened it up they had some additional photos and some of them were baby pictures of myself. Before this I had never actually seen a baby picture of myself. Upon seeing it, I pretty much knew it was me."
Steve has contacted his birth father. His birth mother is still missing and may hold the answers to how he ended up in the orphanage. Steven is now getting to know his half sisters too. At first, he wanted to keep the story quiet. But, now he is sharing it, in magazines and on the news.
"It lends tremendous hope to families that are in that consistent search for a missing loved one," says Suk.
Steve lives in Philidelphia, but came to Rochester last week to take part in the Ride for Missing Children. He shared his message of hope with those still searching for answers.
"In speaking with my parents and the rest of my family and friends we decided the story provides so much hope for families that are dealing with loss of child. They've been looking for them for this long, to let them know to always continue to keep looking and keep hoping," Steve adds.
He still holds out hope that his mother will be found and he can find out what happened during the first six months of his life and how he ended up seperated from his father and in an orphanage. Most of all, he wants the families of missing children to stay strong because his story is proof that even after 35 years, there can be a happy ending.