Woman reunites with biological parents 51 years after being kidnapped by babysitter
A 53-year-old woman from Texas, United States, was reunited with her biological parents after 51 years and the emotional moment of the reunion captured in a video is going viral on social media. Melissa Highsmith, was kidnapped by her babysitter in 1971 when she was just 21 months old. She recently met her parents for the first time since being kidnapped.
A video of the heartfelt reunion was shared on Instagram recently and the touching clip has left many users moved.
“Melissa grew up as Melanie and always dreamed of having a big family, never knowing she had been abducted from her biological family before she was able to form memories. Melissa is now 53 years old and is reuniting with her family for the first time in 51 years and meeting the siblings she never knew,” read an excerpt from the extensive caption.
The video showed an emotional Melissa ecstatic to meet her parents for the first time. As soon as she enters through the door, the 53-year-old jumps into the arms of her mother as the two share a warm embrace. “I can’t express the joy. I can’t express the joy that I’m feeling,” says Melissa’s father as he hugs her. Later in the video, her father is also seen showing the pictures of her siblings on his cell phone to Melissa.
According to a report by the New York Post, Melissa, who was a resident of Fort Worth in Texas, was kidnapped on August 23, 1971. Her biological mother, Alta Apantenco, had hired a babysitter after she divorced her husband, Jeffrie Highsmith and moved to Fort Worth. The babysitter, Ruth Johnson, used to look after Melissa when Alta was working as a waitress. Ruth was the person responsible for the kidnapping.
Melissa, who went by the name Melanie Walden, later opened up about the verbal and sexual abuse that she was subjected to at the hands of her babysitter “mom” and “stepdad”. “I ran away at 15 years old. I went to the streets. I did what I had to do to get by… I worked the streets,” shared the 53-year-old. What’s more, Melissa’s family was unaware that she was living in Fort Worth itself her entire life, and that too only at a mere distance of approximately 20 minutes.