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Woman reunited with her family after being kidnapped as a baby 51 years ago

Missing Texas woman reunited with family 51 years after being kidnapped by …

A woman who was missing for 51 years has been reunited with her birth family after being abducted as a baby.

Melissa Highsmith was one year old when she was abducted by her babysitter in 1971 in Fort Worth, Texas.

A single mother to Highsmith, Alta Apantenco posted an ad in a local newspaper seeking help with childcare and hired a woman without meeting her first.

Apantenco’s roommate handed the baby over to the babysitter, but no one could have guessed it would be 51 years until the mother and child were reunited.

The baby was reported missing and every year her friends and family would remember her by marking her birthday with a party.

As technology developed, a Facebook group called “Finding Melissa Highsmith” was created and the family was given a tip-off that she may be living in Charleston, South Carolina.

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Technology also helped reunite the family as they used a DNA test by 23andMe to confirm that the woman was, in fact, Highsmith.

With the same birthday and birthmark from childhood, there was no doubt that the woman living 1,00 miles away from Fort Worth, going by the name Melanie Walden, was her.

At a party, she was reunited with her mother, her father, Jeffrie Highsmith, and two of her four siblings.

In a statement, her sister, Victoria Garner, said: “I couldn’t stop crying, I was overjoyed, and I’m still walking around in a fog trying to comprehend that my sister [was] right in front of me and that we found her.”

Another sister, Sharon Highsmith, said: “My mom did the best she could with the limited resources she had – she couldn’t risk getting fired, so she trusted the person who said they’d care for her child.

“I’m grateful … we have vindication for my mom.”

It’s unclear what happened to the babysitter who is believed to have taken the baby in 1971.

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