Sunday, January 23, 2011

The search is over for the woman who allegedly raised a child for 23 years after she was kidnapped as an infant. Ann Pettway turned herself in to authorities in Bridgeport, Connecticut and is due to appear in court in New York to face kidnapping charges.

Pettway is being accused in the kidnapping of Carlina White (pictured above) when she was only 19 days old. White found her birth mother after finding out that she was listed on a missing persons website. She also found it suspicious that her "mother" could not produce a copy of her birth certificate.

White was taken from a hospital in Harlem as a newborn after her real mother took her to the doctor for a fever. After being kidnapped, she was raised as Nejdra Nance in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

White was excited about reuniting with her family back in New York.

"I'm so happy," she said. "At the same time, it's a funny feeling because everything's brand new. It's like being born again."

The Carlina White case shocked the nation for a few reasons. First, most of us can identify with the serious trauma felt by this mother after losing her newborn child. To her credit, Joy White never gave up on her daughter and always remained spiritually connected: She celebrated her birthday and would think about her on a regular basis, always believing that she was somewhere alive. Secondly, Carlina White's extraordinary effort to determine the nature of her circumstances is simply remarkable. After realizing that something just wasn't right, she did her own research to find that there was another life she was meant to have lived. In some ways, her story reminds us of Cinderella, given that white reportedly suffered some degree of abuse while being raised by Ann Pettway.

Pettway deserves nothing less than the absolute maximum penalty allowed for her crime against Joy White. There's almost nothing a person can do that is worse than taking a child away from a mother. Pettway's actions were both shameful and unethical, and she deserves to pay a significant price for the 23 years of pain she's inflicted on Carlina and Joy.

The Carlina White case also reminds us that our kids eventually grow up. If you've lived a life in which you've hurt your children through selfish actions or deceived them in some meaningful way, you'd be remiss not to realize that chickens eventually come home to roost. Given that it's quite difficult to go through American life without a birth certificate and social security number, Pettway had to know that eventually, her "daughter" would learn the terrible truth.


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