When Maria Mancia saw her son for the first time after 21 years, she couldn’t believe it. “All that time I didn’t know what had happened to him,” she said.
Her son, Steve Hernandez was only 18 months old when he was taken away from his mother, by his own father, Valentin Hernandez. At the time, his father removed every single picture of him from his home– even his ultrasound photo.
Steve’s mother remembers it clearly– the day she lost her son from her southern California home in 1995. It was a tough time for her. The only way to show authorities what her son looked like was to find a relative who happened to have a picture.
“It’s all I had of him,” she said. “It was always with me.”
The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Child Abduction Unit was assigned to finding Steve. They had little luck for years but finally came across a useful tip that led them towards Puebla, Mexico.
They ended up finding Steve, who was now 22 years old. His father was missing or was thought dead.