Long-missing man taken to Mexico as toddler reunited with U.S. mother

David Amaya and his mother Kathy Amaya listen to a service at Iglesia de Cristo Ministerios Llamada Final in San Diego, California November 24, 2013. Credit: Reuters
David Amaya and his mother Kathy Amaya listen to a service at Iglesia de Cristo Ministerios Llamada Final in San Diego, California November 24, 2013. Credit: Reuters

A Chicago-born man, who went missing three decades ago as a toddler after his father took him to Mexico, has been reunited with his U.S. mother in California after a harrowing trek back to the United States.

David Amaya Barrick, now 37, was arrested by U.S. Border Patrol agents last month but freed after convincing authorities of his U.S. citizenship – only to vanish again for several days before turning up at a San Diego church.

The mother and son finally met each other this weekend for the first time since the son went missing in 1979, to find they have the same eyes and nose, share the same laugh, and both love plaid shirts – even if they no longer have a language in common.

“We have some catching up to do,” Kathy Amaya, 60, told Reuters on Sunday through tears a day after the pair finally met face to face at the San Diego International Airport after she flew in from Wisconsin. “We’re going to do that.”

The Border Patrol said Barrick was taken from Chicago by his father in 1979 and brought to Mexico, where he was left with his paternal grandparents, speaking only Spanish. He later trained as a percussionist and moved to Monterrey, where he built a career playing in Norteno bands. He married and had two children, but the marriage didn’t work out.

Earlier this month, he illegally crossed into California from Mexico with undocumented immigrants and was arrested by the U.S. Border Patrol about a mile east of the Pacific Ocean. At first, he said he was Mexican, then remembered that his grandparents told him he was born in a Chicago hospital.

He also told the border agents he had been beaten and robbed of his money, cell phone and Mexican identification before entering the United States.

The agents checked out his story and were able to locate his birth certificate and his mother – putting the two in touch over the phone in an emotional long-distance call. Because Barrick speaks only Spanish, agents acted as translators.

“It was very emotional,” supervisory agent Troy Matthews said. “He told her he grew up being told she abandoned him and she started crying that she was afraid they told him that and how she never stopped wanting to find him.”

On Tuesday, Amaya will fly to Wisconsin with her firstborn son, where he’ll meet her four other grown children, three brothers and a sister.

“We’ll spend Thanksgiving with so much to give thanks for,” Amaya said. “It’s really overwhelming, sometimes it feels like my heart will burst.”

Both mother and son acknowledge they have much to do to rebuild their relationship, starting with finding a common language. But Amaya pointed at Barrick’s plaid shirt, and then her own, and they both laughed the same laugh.

“We are the same blood,” Amaya said. “We can figure out the rest.”

 


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

How to donate during the blood drive at…

The Metro-North Railroad and New York Blood Center are hosting a blood drive at Grand Central Terminal Thursday.

Local

Bloomberg launches $50 million anti-gun violence effort

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to spend $50 million on a grassroots anti-gun violence network to challenge the National Rifle Association.

Local

East Village woman fights off rape attempt from…

An East Village woman fought off an attempted rapist that she woke to find standing on her bed over the weekend, police said.

International

Nearly 300 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes

Almost 300 people were missing after a ferry capsized off South Korea Wednesday, in what could be the country's biggest maritime disaster in over 20 years.

Television

Jim Rash talks 'The Writer's Room' and amazing…

For Jim Rash, as the fifth season of "Community" comes to a close, the second season of "The Writer's Room" begins.

Books

Poems from prison: 'How to Survive a Bullet…

Celebrate National Poetry Month with, "'How to Survive a Bullet to the Heart."

Movies

Review: 'Heaven is for Real' tries to be…

The mega-bestseller "Heaven is for Real" becomes a movie that tries to portray wrestling with faith — or at least it tries to try.

The Word

Jenny McCarthy and Donnie Wahlberg are engaged

If Donnie Wahlberg wants to get vaccinated against anything, he should do it soon: he and Jenny McCarthy are engaged, she just announced on "The View."

NHL

Islanders back to rebuilding mode after disappointing season

One season after qualifying for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2006-07, the Islanders finished 2013-14 with a 34-37-11 record.

NFL

Jets confident despite Chris Johnson leaving with no…

Jets fans clamored for a playmaker on offense all offseason. It looked like they were going to land that player on Tuesday when Chris Johnson…

NBA

Knicks, Nets rivalry never materialized despite national attention

When the NBA schedule was released, the league anticipated an intense rivalry between the Nets and Knicks with all four games slated for national TV.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

Home

Steal home decorating tips from stylist and creator…

We hit her up for some space-conscious, budget-friendly design tips.

Wellbeing

Could a facelift give you the edge at…

It's not just women lining up for procedures.

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Personalize your massage at a private practice

CityTouch customizes spa treatments to meet client's needs.