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Nejdra Nance, Kidnapped at Birth, Reveals Difficult Reunion

Nejdra Nance, Kidnapped at Birth, Reveals Difficult Reunion

Nance says media attention, money misunderstanding soured reunion with birth parents.

Published October 30, 2011

The story of Nejdra “Netty” Nance captivated the nation earlier this year when she was reunited with her birth family after being kidnapped from a hospital as an infant in 1987. However, the reunion was anything but sweet, Nance told New York Magazine in an exclusive interview.


In January, at 23 years old, she was reunited with her birth parents, Joy White and Carl Tyson. The pervasive media attention surrounding her miraculous story quickly took its toll on Nance, she says in the interview, and caused her to pull away from her birth parents and new extended family just days after meeting them. A misunderstanding over a $162,000 settlement set aside for Nance after her parents sued the city of New York further strained their relationship.


Eventually, Nance cut herself off from her birth parents completely, which only frustrated her father. “She says she’s got to live her life? Okay,” Carl Tyson told New York Magazine. “But you’re not spending any time with your family. You say you don’t know us? Fine. We don’t know you. But how are you going to get to know us?”


Nance also struggled with her feelings for Ann Pettway, her abductor, whom she called mother for 23 years. It forged a deep riff between Nance and her birth mother, Joy. “I know they both want justice,” Nance said of Joy and Carl. “I would feel the same way if someone did that to my child. But at the same time, I have unconditional feelings for her,” Nance says, referencing Pettway, who is in jail and faces 20 years in prison. “I’m willing to forgive her. And I still have love for her.”


Nejdra Nance’s complete interview with New York Magazine is available here.

(Photo: Hellen van Meene/New York Magazine)

Written by Britt Middleton


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