Mother Reunites With Son 35 Years After His Abduction

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A Wisconsin mother whose 2-year-old son was abducted by her estranged husband 35 years ago recently received a life-changing phone call with the news she'd been waiting to hear for decades: Her son had been found. 

In 1977, Kathy Amaya left her husband of several years and took their 1-year-old son, David, with her. She and David moved from their house in Chicago to her sister’s nearby home, and Kathy allowed her ex-husband to periodically visit the boy. The following year, when David was 2, the boy's father picked him up so the two could spend the day together. “That was the last time I saw my son,” Amaya, now 60 and an assistant head housekeeper at a Holiday Inn Express in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, tells Yahoo Shine.

A few days later, her ex-husband called Amaya from Mexico and said he had taken David there on a one-month permit to live with his grandparents, but promised to bring the boy home after that. After the month came and went without David's return and her ex-husband cutting off contact, she filed a police report. “The police couldn’t help because it was out of their jurisdiction,” she recounts. “It was infuriating.”

Over the next three and a half decades, Amaya tried to move on with her life, bearing four more children (three sons, now ages 34, 30, and 23; and a 25-year-old daughter) and later getting engaged. In more recent years, she began searching for David online. “As my other children grew older, I explained that they also had a brother who was taken by my ex-husband,” says Amaya. “I couldn’t hide the truth from them.”

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On October 31 of this year, Kathy checked her cell phone voicemail during her lunch break and found a message from the Border Patrol in San Diego, California. “A man said that he needed to verify some information about a David Amaya,” she says. “Him and a few others were caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border without documents. I was excited but cautious because I wasn’t sure if it was my David.” During the two days that David was detained, however, officials uncovered his birth certificate, revealing that the 37-year-old was born in Chicago in 1976. “I stayed calm on the phone but when I hung up, I just dissolved,” says Amaya.

One day later, she received another call from a Border Patrol official, who handed the phone to David. “He didn't speak English, only Spanish, so with the help of a translator, I told David how much I missed him, and that I had been searching for him for 30 years,” Amaya says. “I couldn’t find him because he was using my maiden name, Barrick, as his last name.” She also learned that David had lost sight in one eye after getting into a car accident and that he is a father of two children, ages 4 and 9. He also shared some news that Amaya could sadly relate to: Three years ago, David’s ex abducted their children, and he hasn’t seen them since.

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Currently, David is living in a shelter in San Diego, which is raising funds to buy a plane ticket to send him home to Wisconsin. Meanwhile, mother and son have chatted on the phone several times and write each other daily messages through Facebook. “David is learning English and the other day, he said, ‘I love you, Mom,’” says Amaya. 

Grateful to finally be in contact with her son again, she says she’s not angry with her ex-husband. “I can’t hate anyone, but I won’t ever forget that he robbed me of 30 years with my son,” she says. “But now I have David. The other day, he told me, 'Don’t worry, mom. We don’t have our past, but we have our future.'”

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