Nejdra Nance always knew there was something different about her. As she grew into a teenager, it became more and more obvious that she didn’t look like her family or even her mother — a woman who abused drugs and abused Nejdra herself. When the young woman got pregnant at 16, she asked for her birth certificate in order to get prenatal care. Her mother, Agnotta Pettway, could not provide it. Nor, when Nejdra tried to get a job, could she procure a Social Security card or other documentation. Eventually, she confronted Pettway, who admitted she wasn’t Nejdra’s biological mom. Nejdra moved out on her own and began a long quest to find out who she really was.
She began to research with the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, where investigators showed her a baby photo of one Carlina Renae White. Carlina had famously been abducted by an unknown woman from Harlem Hospital when she was only twenty days old. Instinctively, Carlina knew that she was the baby in the picture. The Center then called Joy White, her mother. “I knew right away it was her,” White told the Post. “I was at work. I screamed and cried and ran downstairs. After that, it was just crazy.” With the help of the NYPD, a DNA test was performed on White, Carlina (who no longer calls herself Nejdra), and her dad (who had since split from White). On Tuesday the test confirmed what Carlina suspected — but the family hadn’t even waited for the results. They’d tearfully reunited on Friday night in the Bronx, a family again after 23 years.
The missing-persons case is closed, but the kidnapping case remains open. Agnotta Pettway is headed up to the New York area to “straighten all this out,” she told the Post.
“I’m so happy,” said Carlina. “At the same time, it’s a funny feeling because everything’s brand-new. It’s like being born again.” Her birth mother agreed. “I’ve been worried for all these years. I never took her picture off my dresser,” said White. “It’s a wonderful feeling! Now I can sleep.”