All his life, he had felt as though a piece of him was missing. Although he grew up with a kind foster family, his longing to find out more about his origins never really went away. Years passed by and he tried to suppress his desire to find out more.
Until one day, he saw a picture that changed everything.
Steven Carter Jr. never knew who his biological parents were. He assumed that his parents had given him up while he was an infant. He was just a few months old when he was placed in an orphanage in Oahu, he was first given the named Tenzin Amea.
His memories as a child weren’t that clear, but he did remember one thing. He longed to have a kind family of his own.
Meeting his adoptive parents
It wasn’t long before Steven’s wish was granted. In 1980, a United States Army officer Steve Carter Sr. and his wife Pat were stationed in Hawaii. During their stay, the couple decided to visit the orphanage that Steven was in.
Steven was three years old at the time. When the couple first saw him, they knew he was the boy they wanted to take care of.
On September 23, 1980, Steven was officially adopted. His name was changed from Tenzin Amea to William Steven Tenzin Carter Jr. The staff at the orphanage explained how Tenzin was half native Hawaiian but something just felt off.
After all, Steven did have blue eyes, and blonde hair which was not a common trait native Hawaiians would have. But his adoptive parents didn’t mind.
After a while, Steven’s family left Hawaii and moved to Medford Lakes, New Jersey. He grew up in a privileged household, often getting everything he needed. Steven had nothing to complain about.
Since he was a child, he had always been well-aware of the fact that he was adopted. But he would often ask questions that his adoptive parents cannot answer. Steven grew up not fully knowing who he was or where he came from.
What he knew
Steven knew very little about himself. One was that his birth certificate stated that he was ethnically Hawaiian and that his birth certificate was strangely issued a month after his birth. His parents had always been transparent about him being an orphan, they even had a celebration called “Came To Be Our Boy Day,” where they commemorate the day they adopted Steven.
But despite knowing all this, Steven still felt a hole in his heart. But everything was about to change one day.
Thanks to his adoptive parents, Steven was able to grow up healthy and well. He studied at Penn University and worked as a medical software salesman for his company in Philadelphia. He grew up and became a normal functioning adult.
Until one day, he finally uncovered the truth in the form of a DNA test in his 30’s.
It took a really long time before Steven finally had the chance to look for answers. He was already married and in his 30s when he suddenly received a strange gift for Christmas. It was a DNA test.
Little did Steven know, this DNA test was his key to unlocking the mystery of his origins.
Steven held his breath, then let out a hefty sigh. He opened the piece of paper and read the results. “This is it,” he thought to himself. Finally, the first piece of the puzzle was here. He read the texts thoroughly.
It was revealed that Steven did not have native Hawaiian genes, but he had Scandinavian roots. He was confused and dumbfounded. Could his entire life have been a lie?
Steven was curious, he was fueled to find out more. He found himself searching for answers on the internet. Soon, Steven discovered a website that he believed would be a big help. He used a site called missingkids.com, It was a database of missing persons.
He hesitantly typed in the birth date that was written on his birth certificate and narrowed the location down to Hawaii. He then pressed search.
Steven patiently looked for his name, “Tenzin Amea.” After all, that was his name on his birth certificate. But to no avail, his name was nowhere to be found.
But Steven found something else instead. He looked closely at the children reported missing on his birth year and there was one case that caught Steven’s attention. He saw a report on a missing child in July 1977 with the name Marx Panama Moriarty-Barnes. At first, Steven thought it was just a coincidence but one picture changed Steven’s views.
On the page, he saw the artists’ rendition of what the boy would look like 30 years from when he first went missing, it made Steven’s jaw drop.
The picture looked exactly like him! The uncanny resemblance made Steven go on a frenzy, he took a picture of the photo and sent it to his close friends. “Could this really be me?” Steven thought to himself. The picture was enough to convince Steven’s wife, Tracy, to dig deeper into the mystery. But was Steven ready to know the truth?
Steven felt fired up but anxious at the same time. It was undeniable that the resemblance between him and the boy in the picture was uncanny. Steven knew that if he dug deeper into this, it has the potential to change his entire life.
He held his breath and dialed up the Honolulu Police Department in hopes of finding out more.
Naturally, the police were worried. After all, it had been more than three decades since the case was first open. The chances of solving it were slim but Steven was willing to take that chance. The police demanded more evidence from Steven to help with the case and he happily obliged.
He was tasked to undergo another DNA test, and they had to wait another eight months for the results. But the wait was worth it. After Steven received the results, it was enough to convince the police to open the case once again.
It was 1977, Mark Barnes who was originally from California stayed in Hawaii with his girlfriend, Charlotte Moriarty. They lived a peaceful and simple life together in the small town of Hau’ula.
The couple soon had a baby boy whom they named Marx and this urged Mark to work hard as a journalist to provide for his growing family. But little did he know, their peaceful life would soon be disrupted.
The dreaded day
Charlotte told Mark that she would be taking their son out for a quick stroll, but Mark had no idea that he would never see his family again after that day. Charlotte suddenly vanished, and she took their son with her!
Anxious and worried, Mark sought the help of the local police three weeks after his son and his wife went missing. For two years, Mark would keep looking for his family but to no avail, they were nowhere to be found.
Charlotte was found on the other side of the island. Eventually, Charlotte was caught trespassing. When confronted about who she was, she told the authorities that her name was Jane Amea and that her son was named Tenzin.
She fabricated her son’s birth date and identity, going as far as convincing the authorities that her son was native Hawaiian. But this led to a devastating tragedy, Charlotte was taken away from her son.
Charlotte was brought to a psychiatric facility while her son, who was known as Tenzin, was brought to the orphanage. Tenzin was only six months old at that time, the same age as when Steven was first surrendered in the orphanage.
But Mark was actually just 30 miles away from the hospital, but he had no idea that his son had been surrendered there. Fortunately, another person never gave up and continued to search for Marx.
It turns out, Marx has a half-sister named Jennifer Monnheimer. Jennifer and Marx were born from the same mother, Charlotte. Jennifer was eight years older than her half-brother but this didn’t make her love him any less.
In fact, after several years of her mother and her half-brother’s disappearance, Jennifer didn’t lose hope and started to search for them again in 2001. And her efforts paid off.
Jennifer consulted the authorities in Hawaii and even went as far as to pay an artist to create a realistic interpretation of what Steven would look like 30 years later. This was the same picture that Steven saw years later. With the DNA evidence in their hands as well, the Honolulu Police Department was convinced that the missing child from 30 years ago was Steven.
It was a groundbreaking discovery for both Steven and Jennifer. Not long after, Steven and Jennifer were able to contact each other and catch up. And soon enough, Steven was able to call his biological father as well.