30 Years After His Adoption, A Man Sees His Own Face On A Missing Persons List

Family is one of the most important aspects of life, especially as a child. Without your parents, you would have had no guidance to mold you into the adult you are today. But what if you grew up only to find out that your whole childhood was a lie?

That’s what happened to Steve Carter Jr., who was adopted at the age of three. Though eventually he became well aware of the fact that those who raised him were not his birth parents, he still wanted to learn more about his biological family. Unfortunately, his curiosity led him to uncover a very disturbing truth…

 United States Army officer Steve Carter was stationed in Oahu, Hawaii in 1980 while living with his wife, Pat, when they decided to adopt a child. They were immediately drawn to a three-and-a-half-year-old boy named Tenzin Amea (below, third from the left), who was in foster care on the island.

Born January 16, 1977, Tenzin had already been in the care of the State for three years. Steve and Pat said the moment they saw him it was love at first sight, and adopted him on September 23, 1980, as soon as they could file the paperwork.

Steve and Pat knew little about their new son’s birth parents. His father was said to be native Hawaiian, and his mother was arrested in 1977 when Tenzin was just five months old. When Steve and Pat adopted the little boy they renamed him William Steven Tenzin Carter.

The young boy once known as Tenzin started going by Steve Jr., and settled into a new life with his parents in the wealthy town of Medford Lakes in southern New Jersey. He had the kind of “normal” childhood that many kids would be envious of, participating in local sports and enjoying plenty of friends.

Andre Engels / Wikimedia Commons

As Steve Jr. (below, middle) grew into adulthood, he was never was able to shake off his curiosity about who his birth parents could have been. Even his family took his heritage as a joke. “With his blonde hair, blue eyes, and light complexion,” Steve Sr. said in an interview, “[he] does not strike one as being of Polynesian extraction.”