Netty Nance is 24 but can seem much younger. Her hair dangles in long, wild braids over enormous gold medallion earrings. On her hand, tattooed in thick script, is her daughter’s name, Samani. “She’s my miracle baby,” Netty tells me. “If it wasn’t for me getting pregnant, this never would have come out.” She is referring to the discovery she made, one so dramatic it upended her life and the lives of the people closest to her. She’s spent much of the past year both embracing what she learned and trying to wish it away.It's an incredible story. Be sure to read the whole thing, and let me know what you think -- is there a parallel to adoption here?
Seven years ago, Netty was a senior in high school living in a poor section of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and got pregnant. By the fall, she couldn’t hide it anymore, and didn’t want to. She was excited. Her cousin Brittany was pregnant, too, and now they could be mothers together. But she needed prenatal care, and to get free services from the state, she had to have a birth certificate. Her father, Robert Nance, was a sometime drug dealer who only saw Netty now and then. It was her mother, Ann Pettway, who raised and supported her. But when Netty asked her mother how to get the documents, Ann brushed her off. “She said she was going to handle it,” Netty says.
* * *
When Ann came through the door that night, she went straight upstairs to Netty’s room, sat down on the bed, and started weeping. In her whole life, Netty had never seen her mother shed a tear. “What are you crying for?” Netty asked.
“Your mom left you,” Ann Pettway told her, “and she never came back.”
It was a full seven years before Netty learned the rest of her story. Her real name was Carlina White. She had been abducted as a newborn baby, nineteen days after her birth, from Harlem Hospital and never seen again. And Ann Pettway was not only not Netty’s real mother—according to the police, she was her kidnapper.
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