Back in the early 1980s, there was a rash of kidnappings around my part of the world. You couldn’t help but notice it, even if you were a child.
So my parents started telling me something. They would say, “Loren, if you’re ever kidnapped, we won’t stop looking for you.
“It doesn’t matter what anyone says or does. We’ll look for you as long as we’re alive.”
It encouraged young me, but I never considered the emotional toll such a search would take on a parent until I became a parent myself. Lyneth Mann-Lewis of Toronto, Canada, knows that price full well.
According to the Hartford Courant, Mann-Lewis lost her son Jermaine when he was only 21 months old. She knew exactly what happened to him.
During a court-ordered visitation, her ex-husband, Allan Mann Jr., abducted Jermaine. Then the pair vanished, and Mann-Lewis had no idea where or how to find them.
For many parents, that would’ve signaled a slow slackening of familial bonds, a heartbreaking acceptance that one’s child was gone and would not return. But not for Mann-Lewis.
The Toronto Star reported that she contacted the Missing Children Society of Canada shortly after his disappearance. She worked with a tireless investigator named Ted Davis.
As the investigation stretched on with no news to speak of, Davis urged Mann-Lewis to not lose heart. ““He made a promise to Lyneth and her family that he would do everything in his power to make sure that Jermaine was brought home,” Amanda Pick, CEO of the Missing Children Society of Canada, said.
So the mother waited to learn more about her missing child. And she waited. And she waited some more.
One year turned into two and then into five — and then into over three decades. All the while, Mann-Lewis kept hoping and the investigators kept looking.
See, the police believed that Jermaine and his father had entered the United States illegally and used forged documentation to start a new life. The U.S. Marshals got involved, and all that patience paid off.
They tracked Jermaine, now 33, and his father to Vernon, Connecticut, where they found them living under false names. The only thing was that Jermaine didn’t know his name didn’t belong to him.
He also believed that his mother had passed away years ago, a lie told him by his father. But after 31 years, he finally got to see his mother again.
“I grabbed him and squeezed his head to make sure that he was real after 31 years,” Mann-Lewis said. For his part, Jermaine looked at the woman who gave birth to him and said, “Mommy, you have my eyes, you have my eyes.”
Mother and son will need to make some adjustments, but their love appears ironclad despite everything.
“I am the proof that after 31 long years of suffering that one should never give up, but be patient, be strong and believe that all things are possible and that anything can transpire,” Mann-Lewis said.
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