Imagine living 23 years with a woman you think is your mother — only to discover one day that you had been kidnapped!
In the Oct. 31 issue of New York Magazine, Nejdra “Netty” Nance spoke out about her fascinating tale. It all started when she became pregnant with her daughter, Samani. She needed her birth certificate in order to receive free prenatal care from the state, but ran into trouble locating the document. Eventually that search led to a shocking revelation: Her entire life had been a lie.
When Netty confronted her “mom” Ann Pettway about finding her birth certificate, Ann finally revealed the partial truth — that she wasn’t her real mother. However, Ann told Netty that the girl’s mother had abandoned her. In reality, Ann had posed as a nurse and taken Netty — whose real name is Carlina White — from her birth parents Joy White and Carl Tyson.
Netty had been taken in 1987, when she was only 19 days old. She said she always felt like a part of her was missing, and family members even commented on her lack of resemblance to Ann. Yet nobody suspected the real truth.
Eventually Netty decided to figure out what happened on her own. She found the website for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, and saw a picture of a baby girl that looked just like her daughter. She called the hotline for the center and told them: “I feel like I don’t know who I am.”
She told them about a birth mark on her arm, and the center was able to narrow down the search to two possible cases. One of those was Carlina White.
“There was nothing to suggest this was not Carlina,” Ernie Allen, the center’s president, said.
Netty called up her birth parents, Joy and Carl, and arranged to fly to New York to see them. At first, the relationship was good. However, Netty soon became overwhelmed by the media attention and felt uneasy about Ann’s impending court case. She distanced herself from Joy and Carl, and they became hurt.
“I’m disappointed,” Joy told Today. “We’re reunited, and I wanted to share that with the world.” Netty’s relationship has since improved with Joy and Carl, but she’s also forgiven Ann. Although she hasn’t visited her in jail, she has agreed to help with the court case.
And the brightest part of all? She now knows who she is. “There was a part of me that wasn’t even there, and now I feel whole.” she said. She told New York Magazine that she’s changing her official IDs to Carlina White, but she’s going to keep going by Netty: “Netty’s not what the Pettway family gave me or what the White family gave me. It’s what I gave myself.”