Toddler Abducted Decades Ago Surfaces in San Diego

His birth certificate shows the 37-year-old was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1976

By Candice Nguyen, R. Stickney and Christina London
|  Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013  |  Updated 3:20 PM EDT
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Kathy Amaya told NBC 7 she hasn’t seen her son David since he was just a toddler. Her husband at the time took the boy to Mexico and she said she’s been looking for the child ever since.

Kathy Amaya told NBC 7 she hasn’t seen her son David since he was just a toddler. Her husband at the time took the boy to Mexico and she said she’s been looking for the child ever since.

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Man Taken from U.S. 30 Years Ago Describes Ordeal

When 37-year-old David Amaya crossed the border from Mexico to San Diego, he had no idea he had a long-lost family waiting for him in the U.S. Amaya, who was taken from Chicago more than 30 years ago, said he was told his mother had abandoned him. NBC 7’s Candice Nguyen has more.
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A woman whose toddler was abducted by her estranged husband and taken to Mexico three decades ago recently discovered her son is back in the United States.

Kathy Amaya told NBC 7 she hasn’t seen her son David since he was just a toddler. Her husband at the time took the boy to Mexico, and she said she’s been looking for the child, who she tried to report missing, ever since.

"I went to file a report, and they were saying they couldn't do anything because he was in Mexico," Kathy told our sister station WEAU in an interview Monday.

David Amaya was raised by his grandparents in Mexico and doesn’t speak English. His father told David he was American, but didn't tell his son that he was taken from the country without his mother's permission.

“My father told me my mother had left me abandoned and orphaned,” David told NBC 7 through an interpreter.

“I don’t know my mother, and I find out she’s been looking for me for 30 years, and I have the longing to meet her for the first time,” he said.

David's father and aunt took him to Mexico under a one-month permit to visit his grandparents. However, he said his father left him there and visited only a handful of times over the last three decades.

On Oct. 30, David tried crossing the U.S./Mexico border without documents.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents detained him for two days with a group of undocumented immigrants.

“They did not believe me that I was an American,” David said through a translator.

Border Patrol officials told NBC 7 that's not necessarily true. David's story prompted them to look deeper into his case and, indeed, they tracked down a copy of his birth certificate showing the 37-year-old was born in Chicago, Ill. in 1976.

Kathy said she received a call from the Border Patrol in San Diego.

"They told me that they had someone detained that was crossing the border and he said his name was David Amaya," she said.

"I wasn't sure if it was him, so we did some research and found out it was."

Iglesia de Cristo Ministerios Llamada Final Inc de San Diego, based in Point Loma, is providing food and shelter for David as the ministry tries to raise the funds to get him to Wisconsin so he can see his family.

The ministry’s pastor also helped organize a phone call between David and his mother. Even though the two don’t speak the same language, the pastor said the reunion was emotional.

Kathy Amaya told NBC 7 that David has four siblings, and she’s excited to have the family reunited.

"He just told me that he doesn't hold anything against me," she added. "So that makes me happy."

David finished high school in Mexico and studied music in Monterrey, Mexico. He plays drums and went on tour with a band.

He said now he wants to focus on learning English and pursuing his career as a musician.

He also wants to seek medical treatment for injuries he sustained in a serious vehicle accident.

David lost vision in his left eye and has some pain in his throat from a piece of metal that pierced his skin in the crash.

Border Patrol has responded to NBC 7 about this story and is currently interested in having the agents who found David talk about what happened. At the moment, agents have a donation box in their station in San Diego County to raise money to get David to Wisconson.

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