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Mother, child reunite six years after kidnapping

Girl had been presumed dead since a 1997 fire

Luz Cuevas smiles Thursday after announcing a judge awarded her custody of daughter Delimar.
Luz Cuevas smiles Thursday after announcing a judge awarded her custody of daughter Delimar.

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CNN's Martin Savidge reports the woman accused of kidnapping a 10-day-old girl six years ago has surrendered to police.
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Affiliate KYW reports on the case of a Pennsylvania child who initially was believed to have died in a fire.
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(CNN) -- The mother of a 6-year-old girl who allegedly was kidnapped at 10 days old rejoiced as she was reunited with her daughter, said a Pennsylvania lawmaker who helped bring about the reunion.

"The mother came out screaming, with her hands up, saying, 'She called me Mommy,' " state Rep. Angel Cruz of Philadelphia said Friday. " 'She accepts me as her mommy.' "

The reunion between Luz Cuevas and her daughter Delimar took place Thursday night at a private location, Cruz said.

"She was thrilled," said Cuevas' attorney, Anthony Cianfrani. "She was gushing over."

Delimar allegedly was snatched from her crib in December 1997 by a family acquaintance. Carolyn Correa faces charges of kidnapping the child and setting a fire to cover her tracks. Officials at the time ruled the child had died in the fire.

Cianfrani and Cruz said a communication barrier between the mother and child -- Cuevas speaks little English and her daughter speaks no Spanish -- will be an easy one to overcome.

"The mother speaks enough English to communicate to the child," Cianfrani said. "The mother can talk about foods and colors, and how do you feel, and that sort of thing, so the mother can communicate, but she understands that she needs to learn English so she could communicate better with her child."

Cruz said Delimar also will learn Spanish.

A New Jersey judge granted custody to Cuevas, but the final transfer will not take place until the judge has set up safeguards for the child's welfare, Cruz said. Cianfrani said that was expected Monday. The child is in foster care.

Cruz said Cuevas never believed that her baby had died.

"She said when she ran up and the baby was not in the crib, she said she knew that the baby was kidnapped and was not burned in the fire," he said.

In January, Cuevas attended a birthday party for the child of an acquaintance and was struck by the resemblance of a 6-year-old girl to herself and her other children.

Telling the girl she had bubble gum in her hair, Cuevas was able to take strands of her hair in hopes a DNA test would prove she was right, according to Philadelphia police Lt. Michael Boyle.

Cruz helped put Cuevas in touch with police, who launched an investigation and had DNA tests performed that confirmed the girl is her daughter.

Police said Correa, a resident of Willingboro, New Jersey, a Philadelphia suburb, started the fire and kidnapped Delimar, whom she passed off as her own daughter.

Delimar is shown in an undated family picture.
Delimar is shown in an undated family picture.

"This is a mystery story with a happy ending," Cruz said.

Correa is being held on $1 million bail.

Cuevas said Delimar became hysterical when told that Correa was not her mother but has since calmed down and is beginning to adjust to the news.

Cruz's attorney said psychologists are working with the daughter and mother on the transition.

"We do expect some problems," Cianfrani said, "but the natural mom has a loving home and other children, and she's just committed to doing whatever is necessary to make the transition go well."

Delimar's biological father also has come forward, hired an attorney and asked to be included in the process, but Cianfrani said his role would be "fairly limited for the near future."

"There's been enough turmoil in the child's life," he said. "She does not need some sort of split custody situation."


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