Steve Carter, a 35-year-old Philadelphia man, was adopted at age four from a Hawaiian orphanage. He wasn’t too interested in searching for his biological parents growing up as he was always very happy with his adoptive ones. It was a gut feeling that spurred him to do some searching later in life. That’s when he saw his own likeness on a missing children’s list.
CBS reports what Carter saw on MissingKids.com stunned him. It was a composite image of Marx Panama Barnes aged to be 26 years old:
“My first thought was, ‘Oh my God, that’s me.'”
Carter and Barnes had birthdays one day apart. Their birthplaces are identical.
Carter emailed the picture to his adoptive mother. Carter recalled, “She’s like, ‘Oh my God, that’s you.’ And I was like, ‘That’s what I thought.’ And she’s like, ‘But it can’t be you. You know, we adopted you at 4. There’s no way you could have been missing at 6 months and we’d be able to legally adopt you at 4.’ I was like, ‘I was thinking the same thing.'”
A DNA test confirmed Steve and Marx were in fact the same person, but the mystery doesn’t stop there. CBS goes on to detail that Carter’s biological mother went missing with him in 1977. It was later revealed Carter’s mother had taken him, changed his name, his birth date and the race of his father on his birth certificate. CBS notes that while Carter was given to an orphanage, his mother was put in a psychiatric hospital from which she has since vanished.
Eventually, Carter’s father Mark Barnes was located and he said Carter’s biological mother had left him several times before this incident, but she would always return. This last time, she didn’t. CBS has more on Barnes’ reaction when he first heard from his biological son after three decades:
“He introduced himself over the phone. And I was absolutely, positively, thunderstruck and amazed. And we just sort of, in an hour of conversation tried to catch up on 32 years.”
“Not one day went by when I wasn’t – he wasn’t in my thoughts.”
Check out the full CBS report:
CNN states Carter does plan to meet his biological father in person someday, but right now he is “still going forward, testing the waters.” He said he is currently trying to figure out what happened to him during the three-week time period between when he was reported missing and turned in to the orphanage. CBS notes Barnes saying he wishes he had reported Carter and his mother missing sooner than he did. In the years that followed the baby and mother’s disappearance, Willits News reports Barnes saying he did everything but turn the island upside down and shake it in his efforts to find Carter.
Watch CNN’s video report:
For some time, Barnes said he was treated by authorities as suspect to potentially murdering Carter and his missing mother. Since Carter’s reappearance, the police have apologized to Barnes, according to Willits News.