Everyone wants to know where they came from. There is something in our DNA that gives us this burning desire to explore what and who came before us. One man knew very little about his origins. However, that all changed after visiting a missing children’s website.
Family Mystery Solved?
Steve Carter spent the majority of his life with a very obscure idea of his family history. However, after what can only be described as a domino effect of events, he has finally unraveled the truth behind his past.
Carter, 39, has been curious about his family history for as long as he could remember. One day, he decided to go online and started digging for information that could give him some more clues. After visiting a missing children’s website, he noticed something completely out of the ordinary – a photo that put one of the most incredible stories of self-discovery into motion. Steve’s convenient life was about to be turned upside down with the click of a button…
Steve grew up at his adoptive parents’ home in New Jersey, and for the most part, lived a pretty normal, happy life. He eventually made a life for himself, working for a medical software company in Philadelphia. That’s not all though, Steve is on his way to building his own family and is happily married. However, he has been determined for a while to work out the truth behind his family past. There was no doubt that Steve had some big questions.
Becoming an adult, Steve was as inquisitive as ever about his past. He always wondered who is biological parents could have been and also wondered why his birth certificate was created a year after he was born. It stated that he was born in Hawaii, of all places, which was something that became a bit of a family joke. “With his blonde hair, blue eyes, and light complexion,” Steve Sr. said, “[He] does not strike one as being of Polynesian extraction.”
Steve’s adopted parents can only give him a murky account of his origins. Anything that happened before he was adopted is impossible for them to confirm. In 1980, Steve Carter Sr. was stationed in Oahu, Hawaii a U.S. Army officer. He went with his wife Pat, who planned on adopting a child during their time on the Hawaiian island. “It was love at first sight,” Pat said, upon meeting three-and-a-half-year-old Steve Jr. for the first time. This is how he was adopted.
After bringing the boy back home with them, Steve Sr. and Pat were bemused by their child’s Hawaiian records. They claimed that the boy’s name was Tenzin Amea, who had been in foster care for three years. Not only was his father apparently a native Hawaiian, but his mother, Jane Amea, was white. The reason that the boy had been put into the Hawaiian care system in 1977 was because his mother was arrested when he was just five months old…
As a result of their early realization that Tenzin had suffered during his first few years of life, Steve Sr. and Pat were determined to give him the upbringing he deserved. They renamed him William Steven Tenzin Carter and brought him up in an affluent part of southern New Jersey. Steve Jr., as he was known in short, had fond memories that stretched throughout the 80s and the 90s. Steve had a great childhood and excelled at school. However, something was missing…
Upon receiving a Christmas gift in the form of a DNA testing kit, Steve Jr. had a great opportunity to unlock an important door in his journey of self-discovery. Amazingly, the results revealed that he is actually of Scandinavian ancestry. This threw a massive spanner in the works, and certainly didn’t seem to make things any clearer. However, there was one particular news story that peaked his interest and put a fresh spin on this fascinating investigation…
Fear Or Guilt?
Steve Sr. and Pat’s guilt has been ongoing; a constant feeling ever since adopting Steve Jr. all those years ago. They always worried that someone would come along to claim their son as their own. However, that never actually ended up happening. “For several years after his adoption, Pat and I had a nagging fear that someone might pop up claiming to be his biological mother or father,” Steve said. “When nobody did, our anxiety eventually passed.”
Although Steve Jr’s birthday has always been the subject of mystery as a result of his turbulent origins, the Carters decided to give him an annual celebration that had an extra layer of significance. Every year, on September 23, the family celebrated the day that Steve came into their lives, calling it “Came to be Our Boy Day.” They have celebrated the special day every year since 1980 and will continue to do so. Moreover, as each year passes, the celebration becomes even more special.
Freedom To Choose
From as early as they can remember, the Carters have always been straight with Steve and made sure that he had the freedom to choose his own destiny. “We belonged to an adoptee/birth parent clearinghouse (ALMA) that connects people who are looking for each other, but never received any messages,” Steve Sr. said. “When Steve turned 18, we asked him if he wished to continue registering on the site and he declined.” However, Steve became soon developed a huge interest in his background…
One story that Steve learned about back in 2011 completely changed the way he looked at his own potential family history. Carlina White was kidnapped as a baby from a Harlem hospital and had grown up believing that it was her mother who abducted her. In an incredible case of happenstance, Carlina’s biological parents were actually living less than 45 minutes away from her. Then, when the 23-year-old looked online for missing people, she finally solved the mystery. Eventually, this was Steve’s next move…
Ever since the internet has been around, finding out one’s ancestry and long-lost relatives has become so much easier. One of the main websites that Carlina White used to solve her family mystery was missingkids.com. It’s the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children who put the website together and it wouldn’t take long before Steve was looking for potential clues. Soon enough, he found something that turned this story completely on its head.
Like Looking In A Mirror
When Steve came across a missing boy by the name of Marx Panama Moriarty Barnes, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. This boy, who had been missing since June 1977, had a portrait that was painted by an artist of what Marx may have looked like as a young man. It was the absolute doppelganger of Steve. “I got chills,” he said. “I was like, ‘Holy crap, it’s me.'” But was it actually him? A startled Steve needed verification.
Time To Take Action
It was natural that Steve was in a state of absolute shock. Here he was, staring at what could potentially be the strongest indicator of his past. The next step for Steve was to contact the authorities. After receiving a torrent of advice, he felt like his best port of call was to get his DNA tested. Despite the test not taking too long to organize, it would take Steve eight long months before the results arrived.
Results Are In
During those eight months, it was like absolute torture of Steve. Every day, he woke up and knew exactly how long he had to wait. It was the only thing on his mind. Eventually, though, the wait was over and the results were in. It turns out that Steve and Marx were one and the same. His wife, Tracey, who had been by his side, every step of the way, persuaded him to dig deeper. However, nothing could prepare them for what was to come…
Going Back In Time
The true story of Steve Jr’s origins can be traced all the way back to June 21, 1977. Vietnam vet-turned-journalist Mark Barnes was in the garden of his Hau’ula, Oahu home, attending to his plants. His girlfriend Charlotte Moriarty decided to take their son, Marx, who was six months old, out for a walk. She had told Mark that she was just planning on going to the grocery store with Marx. However, things didn’t exactly go as Mark had anticipated…
Charlotte didn’t end up coming back. However, Mark wasn’t worried in the slightest. It is believed that Charlotte liked to live a free life and would often go on impromptu flights. However, she had been away for three weeks. At this point, Mark was concerned and got in touch with the authorities. Despite a search for the mother and son being underway, there was absolutely no indication as to where they may have gone to. However, there was a good reason.
Never Gave Up Hope
Mark did what any proud husband and father would do. He spent over a year searching all over Hawaii, looking for his beloved wife and son. He never gave up hope that one day, his family would come back home. However, it wouldn’t take long before Marx was living in a different place, with different people, and a different name. How exactly did Steve, or Marx, as he was originally known, get from Hawaii to New Jersey?
Other Side Of Oahu
What Mark didn’t realize was that Charlotte and Marx were certainly still in Oahu the year that they had gone missing. However, they happened to be on the other side of the island and had broken into the property of a random couple. When the lady of the house came home and found Charlotte and Marx inside, she wasn’t too sure how to handle it at first. Eventually, the lady got in touch with the police and they handled the rest.
When the police arrived, they were unable to make sense of these two individuals that they had been reported on. When filling in the files, Charlotte decided to fabricate her and her son’s identities, referring to her as Jane Amea and her son as Tenzin. That wasn’t all though. She also gave him a fake date of birth, which happened before Mark realized that his family had gone missing. This meant that Mark had no chance of finding Charlotte and Marx.
It turns out that Charlotte was more than just a “free spirit.” She had severe mental issues and was eventually taken to a psychiatric facility. Although she was soon released from the institution, it wouldn’t take long before she was never heard from again. She completely disappeared off the radar, which meant that the last person who knew for sure where Marx was, was eliminated from the mystery altogether. However, what did this mean for Marx? What happened to him?
Not only did Charlotte’s downward spiral into chaos knock her completely off the radar, but this also spelled certain trouble for Marx. Being separated from his mother was only the beginning of Marx’s misfortunes. In what can only be described as a tragic case of irony, the young boy was sent to an orphanage. That wasn’t all though. The worst part about this scenario was that it was just 30 miles away from his original home. He was still missing in Mark’s mind. But did anyone else know about Marx?
Another Piece To The Puzzle
Not all hope was lost. It turns out that Marx actually had a half-sister by the name of Jennifer. Eight years his senior, Jennifer reignited the search for Marx in 2001, convincing the Hawaiian authorities to double down on their efforts in their attempts of finding her missing half-brother. After getting an artist to draw what Marx may have looked like in 2001, this is what brought the story full circle. Steve Jr. found this exact image online and connected the dots accordingly.
Scared To Reunite
Despite being in touching distance of being reunited with his real family after over three decades, Steve was extremely apprehensive to meet them. He used the term “terrified” when describing how he felt about the prospect. The last thing he wanted was to get in touch with his father and sister-in-law, only to feel regret after doing so. What if they didn’t click? Maybe they won’t like each other. What if Steve decided to pull the plug on the reunion?
Anxious Phone Calls
Despite his apprehensions of reuniting with his long-lost family, and waiting for many months, Steve finally built up the courage to make the first move. He called Jennifer, which was a pleasant experience. Shortly after, he also got in touch with his dad, Mark. He was now living in California, where he once came from. “All I could say was, ‘Wow. Oh wow. Wow,'” Mark said in an interview. The reunion didn’t just affect Steve’s biological family…
Ma & Pa’s Mixed Emotions
Steve’s adopted parents can’t be underestimated in this story; that’s for sure. After Steve Jr. told Steve Sr. and Pat about his three names – Marx, Tenzin, and Steve, and how they are all connected, it was an emotional gut punch. To a degree, they felt guilty for taking Steve away from his biological family. “On an emotional level, I felt like we’d taken someone else’s child,” Pat said. However, things have changed since then…
Time has passed since Steve revealed everything to his adopted family. Now that the dust has settled, Steve Sr. and Pat have come to terms with this torrent of life-changing information. In an interview on the TV chat show The View, Pat made it clear that she is feeling more optimistic about the situation. “It’s taken a while for us to get used to the idea that we have to share him. But I’m sure it’s going to be wonderful,” she said.
Lesson For Other Families
There are still so many loose ends to this incredible family saga. Charlotte Moriarty’s fate is yet to be confirmed and it is unclear whether Steve will ever reunite with all of his biological family. However, there is a huge lesson that broken families around the world can take from this story: never give up on hope. If you have lost someone close to you, or if someone in your family has gone missing, never lose hope that one day, they might come back.
What’s Next For Steve?
It’s not entirely clear what might be next on the horizon for Steve and his two very different families. One thing is for sure: the internet has helped bridge the gap between him, father Mark and half-sister Jennifer in a way that he could have never have anticipated. Whether or not the family rebuild their relationship that was fragmented all those years ago is remained to be seen. However, the potential is now in place for Barnes’ to pick up where they left off.