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This Mother’s Kidnapped Son Was Finally Found — 21 Years Later

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Maria Mancia never lost hope that she would once again see her son who had been kidnapped in 1995. For this mother hanging on to a small thread of hope, her dream finally came true after 21 years of waiting.

Steve Hernandez was only 18 months old when his father stole him away from his mother and took off to Mexico. Maria returned to her home in Rancho Cucamonga, California, to find that it had been ransacked and her son was missing.

As any mother would be, Maria was struck with an immediate panic. She frantically called the police to report the abduction of her son, but for decades they were unable to do anything to locate Steve.

She Was Left Without Any Trace Of Her Son

To make things even worse for the emotionally distraught mother, her husband had also taken all of the child’s photos and identifying documents. Desperate to cling to any memory of her son, Maria contacted a relative in El Salvador to get a picture of her son, and for years, that photo was the only thing she had to remember him by.

15 more years passed, and in 2012, the case was turned over to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Child Abduction Unit. Investigators soon received a tip that Steve was living in Mexico with his father.

After months of pursuing the lead, the investigators were able to track down Steve, obtain a sample of his DNA, and match it to Maria’s. Investigators didn’t alert Maria or Steve throughout the process in order to keep them from having any false hopes.

Once the match was made, though, the investigators drove to Maria’s home to share the good news.

“It was like she didn’t believe us at first,” Cragg, one of the investigators, told the Associated Press. “She began to cry. She said she couldn’t believe he was still alive.”

A Reunion 21 Years In The Making

Not long after, Steve and his mother were brought together for an emotional reunion. Maria couldn’t stop the tears from running down her face as she embraced her son, and Steve tenderly wiped the tears from his mother’s face.

What did the pair have to say about their reunion?

Originally, Hernandez’s father had told him that Maria had abandoned them when the boy was just a child. When Steve found out the truth, he said, “I lived all these years without my mother, then to find out she’s alive in another country, it was emotional.”

As for Maria? “This anguish I’ve carried is gone,” she says, “now that I have my son back.”

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