Many adopted children grow up wondering about the place where they came from, and adoptive parents have to explain them one day. The same happened with Steven Carter Jr., when he started asking these questions as he grew older. But his story is much more complicated. The life he had before being adopted was not clear – his birth certificate was issued a month after his birth date which wasn’t even really known.
Now as an adult, he heard about a missing person and read about it only to discover that one of the missing child cases in the missing person’s list was actually him! How was that possible?
20. READING THE NEWS
Steven Carter Jr. lives in Philadelphia and is a medical software salesman. He was having a normal day at work, and as usual, during his lunch break, he was checking his phone when he got a breaking news notification from CNN. The news sounded intriguing, so he checks it out. Little did he know that the news would help him uncover his past and find out his identity…
19. MISSING PERSON
He read the news about a missing person named Carlina White that was kidnapped as a newborn baby in a New York hospital. She was taken to the hospital at 19 years old, and in the middle of the night, a person dressed as a nurse took Carlina away. The missing person was now an adult, and she was sharing her story.
18. STEVEN’S STORY
All Steven knew about his past was that he was born in Hawaii, but apart from knowing that he was born in 1977 on January 16 under the name Tenzin Amea, he knew nothing else.
He didn’t know why he was an orphan – just that he was in an orphanage and in foster care when he was a few months old. He would soon learn about his past…
17. MEMORIES FROM HIS PAST
Steven recalls that life at the orphanage was all right, but as any child of his age, he yearned for a family. A woman from that period that was caring for the orphans, Caridad Balcita, would later recall that Steven was a good kid. He got lucky when a couple visited the orphanage in 1980 and caught their attention!
Steve Carter Sr., a US army officer and his wife Pat, a teacher, fell in love with Tenzin Amea.
16. TENZIN AMEA
The pair fell in love with the boy but had no idea the truth about his first months of life. It would be him that would find out later…
On 23 September 1980, the couple officially adopted the boy who the staff said that he was half Native Hawaiian. How come the pale blond haired and blue eyed boy have those features?
15. A LOVELY CHILDHOOD
The boy was renamed William Steven Tenzin Carter, and soon enough, they moved from Hawaii to south New Jersey. There, Steven Jr. had an awesome childhood, filled with fun games, sports, and friends. He also had a special anniversary called “Came To Be Our Boy Day,” so that the boy remember that he was adopted and never forget about his past and identity, as little as they all knew about it…
14. LEARNING ABOUT HIS PAST
The adoptive parents didn’t want Steven to forget about his past and how he joined the family, but they had no idea what the truth was about Steve’s past. As he grew up, he wanted to learn more about the time before he was adopted, but the parents didn’t now more than what they already told him!
It started in his early 30s when he got a DNA test as a gift for Christmas!
13. THE DNA TEST
The DNA test he received as a gift showed that Steve had Scandinavian roots, and he was not even a bit part Native Hawaiian as they were told. This result piqued his interest. And as he was reading the CNN news, he found out that the woman that raised White was actually her kidnapper!
He didn’t think his story would be similar, but he searched his own name at missingkids.com.
12. MISSING CHILDREN
He entered his name in the database and entered the birth date he was told. He narrowed the results and looked at the page that revealed an incredible thing, something he never thought he’d see!
Tenzin Amea didn’t exist in that database, but his search came up with a name he’s never heard before: Marx Panama Moriarty-Barnes.
11. MISSING SINCE 1977
Marx Panama was missing since July 1977, and it also matched the time and place when Steven got at the orphanage. Looking at the artist’s rendering of how Marx might look at 30 years made Steven’s heart skip a beat. It was his face there, like looking into a mirror. Was it a coincidence? He asked some friends if this guy looked like him…
10. EVERYONE WAS STUNNED
Steven’s friends were stunned, telling him he should continue his search. He called his parents and showed them his photo, and his wife Tracey encouraged him to pursue his investigation. There were too many coincidences, so he called the Honolulu Police Department.
Three and a half decades, someone was calling the police in Hawaii asking about Marx Panama Moriarty-Barnes’ case…
8. THE POLICE WERE SKEPTICAL
When they heard about Steve’s investigation, the police were skeptical. Who would call after so many years about a missing baby? But they gave him the benefit of the doubt. He was going to take another DNA test to learn about his origin…
On 21 June 1977, Vietnam War veteran Mark Barnes who was from California was a journalist in Hawaii.
7. BUILDING A HOME
Barnes’ girlfriend Charlotte Moriarty was there with him and their baby Marx who was half-a-year-old. The man was planning to build a house in Oahu, and his neighbor helped him build a deck. Charlotte was talking the baby around town for some shopping. Little did the man know that he would be left all alone.
6. A NORMAL DAY OUT
Mark Barnes was now filling the deck with flowers, and his girlfriend and the baby were on their way to a leisurely stroll. But that June day, Barnes would realize something was wrong. Somehow, the woman and the baby vanished! Police were notified, but it was like they disappeared into thin air!
The father was heartbroken, but looked for his family for a year and a half all across the Hawaiian Islands and heard not a single thing. Years passed, and the man still expected a knock on the door or a phone call…
All that time, Marx was in Oahu, Charlotte stole him and was spotted in a stranger’s home. Authorities came, and she told them she was Jane Amea, and the boy was Tenzin Amea…
4. WHY LIE?
The police didn’t connect the dots, and she even said that the father was Native Hawaiian. Charlotte (artist’s rendering above) was sent to a psychiatric hospital, and Marx was sent to an orphanage at six months old under the name of Tenzin. Nobody knew that he was a missing person. Mark’s baby boy was 30 miles away from him without him knowing.
Charlotte was released from the hospital and again vanished. But that’s not all!
3. STEVEN HAD A SISTER!
The boy had a half-sister – Jennifer, who was eight years older than Marx. She was living in Mexico with her father, and in 2001 she asked the police about her brother, and that’s how the sketch was made – the one 10 years later Steven would stumble upon! Without Jennifer, Steve would have never found out the truth!
2. TIME TO MEET THE FAMILY
Stunned to learn the truth, both Steve and his adoptive parents were speechless. In an interview with the Daily Mail Pat said: “I felt like we’d taken someone else’s child, though that wasn’t true.”
Steven was ready to meet his biological family. He called Jennifer and then his father.
1. REACHING OUT
He called his sister, and they met and talked for hours. Then, Steven had to meet his father who was now living in California with two daughters. Mark picked up the phone, heard what Steven had to say and shocked, he only said “Wow.”
So many questions about why his mother kidnapped him and then disappeared still lingered, but the longest missing child in the American history was now solved!