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Daughter snatched from hospital reunited with mom 23 years later

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Missing girl found, 23 years later
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Carlina White was abducted in 1987 from a hospital room
  • Girl told authorities she had felt she was raised by a family to which she did not belong
  • She did internet search recently and found information on her abduction case
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Find out more about this story from CNN affiliate WABC.

(CNN) -- In 1987, an anguished, trembling Joy White pleaded for someone to help her find her infant daughter.

"I hope she's all right," the heartbroken mother told reporters at the time before collapsing in tears.

Now, 23 years later, White is crying tears of joy as the decades-long mystery of her missing daughter reached a happy ending.

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The saga started on August 4, 1987, when White took her sick baby, Carlina, to a Harlem hospital because of an extremely high fever, a New York police official said.

Carlina was admitted in the hospital and White went home to rest. When the mother returned, Carlina was gone.

Years passed as White searched for her daughter, all the time holding onto a photograph of a baby girl she had only held for three weeks.

On January 4, White's phone rang.

The 23-year mystery surrounding Carlina White has come to an end for her biological family.
The 23-year mystery surrounding Carlina White has come to an end for her biological family.

The woman on the other end of the line said she was Carlina, and she sent White a picture taken in 1987.

The face in the photograph bore a striking resemblance to that of the baby in the tattered picture White had held on to.

Police, too, agreed that the photographs looked alike and carried out a DNA test.

On Tuesday, the results came back -- and they were a match.

"Carlina was a missing link," Pat Conway, Carlina White's aunt, told CNN affiliate WABC as she raised her hands in the air. "We have gotten her back. In the name of Jesus, Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah."

For her part, Carlina Renae White, had nursed a nagging feeling that she was raised by a family to which she did not belong, said Ernie Allen from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Raised under a different name, Carlina grew suspicious when the woman who raised her could not provide her with a birth certificate.

So she scoured the internet for answers, stumbling on the website of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. There, she came across an item about a baby girl who had been taken from a New York hospital.

She called the center, which in turn notified authorities.

Authorities are not saying much about the woman who raised Carlina White as they continue their investigation.

"I never gave up hope," Carlina White's grandmother, Elizabeth, told WABC. "It is like she has been around us all her life. She wasn't a stranger. She fit right in."

CNN's Laura Dolan, Rob Frehse, Lateef Mungin and Jason Kessler contributed to this report.

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