Adopted Woman Learns She Has Been ‘A Missing Person’ for Decades


| LAST UPDATE 08/16/2022

By Christiana Holland

As many adoption stories go, it is common for people to want to find out who their birth parents are. For Shawne, re-visiting her past led to a shocking and chilling discovery she never expected.

Questioning Her Past

It is entirely normal for someone who has been adopted to experience a whirlwind of emotions. When they reach a point of wanting to track down their birth parents, it can result in trickier situations than planned.

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@flowerrage via Instagram

This chapter kicked in for Shawne Bolton when she was twenty-six years old. Once she began exploring her past, it wasn't as smooth sailing as she had hoped it would be. Just one out of the many discoveries had her questioning her entire existence, quite literally.

Back To The Beginning

Shawne knew she was adopted and was told at a young age. Although startled initially, she was aware growing up that the couple raising her were not her biological parents. However, her adoption story became the least of her worries after a shocking discovery.

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@flowerrage via Instagram

Still, Shawne was fortunate enough to live a pretty good life - but of course, she still had underlying questions. When she got engaged in her mid-twenties, a time which should be celebrated with family, she felt this was the perfect moment to learn the truth about herself and her birth mom...

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Starting To Investigate

To reassure herself of the decision, she needed to check her birth mom had no criminal records. While there are hundreds of reasons why one is adopted in the first place, this was a pretty good place to start - to be careful. She was able to contact the police station in the area she was born to get some answers, hopefully.

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HAUKE-CHRISTIAN DITTRICH / Contributor via Getty Images

With no information to begin with, it was tricky when Shawne was in contact with the police. She gave them the basic background information - birthday, age, and city of birth to attempt an accurate background check. Once the police rummaged through some files, there was more information than expected.

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A Disturbing Discovery

The police were in complete disbelief after running a background check on Shawne, which she insisted provided very little information to work with. The police realized their discovery was something that might disturb Shawne and urged her to relax in a comfortable setting, ready to hear what they had to say.

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Herwin Bahar via Getty Images

Once they reached out to Shawne, she was itching to find out what they were about to tell her. It was too much of an intense moment to keep her waiting: the police revealed to Shawne that she was a missing person, as her background checks stated her as unfound. In a state of shock, it was a blur from then on.

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Finding Out More

Shawne's main priority was figuring out who her birth mom was - eager to know where she came from and would have grown up. It was time to dig into her past. However, she would have never have guessed what information came from her investigations.

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@loungethelatte via Instagram

Like many cases, adopted children who reunite with their birth parents are overwhelmed with emotions. It is an unimaginable moment until it is experienced. However, some unfortunate cases don't exactly comply with the typical homecoming story. It can go the opposite way, something that Shawne had to encounter.

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An Emotional Experience

Sadly, for anyone who has been adopted, the experience of reuniting with birth parents can be painfully emotional. Whether it is a happy or sad moment, emotions run high from the overwhelming situation, especially if they face it alone. Every story is different, some kids are welcomed into new homes, and others get unlucky.

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@deevaa_babe via Instagram

When placed into a home after adoption, the living conditions can affect how they turn out as teenagers and adults. Uncaring adopted parents can further enhance worrying behavioral habits, and children might not gain the correct emotional cues to deal with puzzling situations and need professional psychiatric help.

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Playing Detective

When it comes to a point in their lives, wanting to find their biological parents can become priority. However, they do not have the correct resources and information to do it independently. Frustration can arise from these situations, confusing them and making it harder to manage emotions.

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vgabusi via Getty Images

However, these situations are a little easier to deal with today's technology and improved resources. With the power of the internet and specific platforms which can track down family trees, a single name can lead to the correct finding. These resources can put searchers at more ease.

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Unpleasant Discoveries

While the internet is an amazing tool for certain situations as such, it can also lead to disappointment or unwanted information. Although a birth mother or birth father gave up their child as an infant, the internet gives them the resource to find them. This can cause potentially toxic situations for the child.

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@sugeng.riyadi.2687 via Instagram

The said child might not feel the same way about their birth parents, avoiding reuniting with them. If the biological parent were to re-enter their lives, this could leave the child in a haze of confusion. The birth parents might think they are doing something special, but it can negatively impact their child's feelings and trauma.

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Filling In The Gaps

In a realistic sense, there is no pressure for adopted children ever to find their birth parents. The situation varies depending on the person, and the tools are there in front of them if they want to move forward with the process. One piece of information can open a world of missing clues.

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@flowerrage via Instagram

There are different ways to find someone they want single-handedly. Whether this be a name, age, address, or specific area, search engines can trace back decades of family history using just one clue. Alternatively, private or public agencies are typically common regarding adoptions as they would have child records.

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A Mother's Bond

At the age of 10, Shawne was informed that the couple who had been raising her were not the ones with her in the delivery room. They had no biological connection to her at all. After this discovery, Shawne had her mind set on finding out who her mother was and shared this over TikTok.

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@pumpkin_princess_baby via Instagram

In one particular video, Shawne mentioned, "for the first ten years of my life, I didn't know that they weren't my parents, I thought that my dad was my dad, and my mom was my mom." When she was informed of her adoption, that was pretty much the only thing they told her. And nothing else. For now...

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An Unexpected Answer

The one thing that Shawne was sure of was the area she was born in. Though she did not have any other leads, such as names or ages, this head start was good enough for her. Still, the confused girl needed more information if she was ever going to find her mother.

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Thomas Stone via Getty Images

Eventually, Shawne had a lightbulb moment: She could find out more about her birthplace through the police from her birth town! It was a sigh of utter relief to discover she was indeed right: the police had some answers. Although, she was not prepared for the crippling piece of information they soon told her.

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Sharing The News

Just when Shawne thought her investigation was going smoothly, one piece of information came crashing down on her journey. Considering she had created a life and family, it was as if it was all a lie and not what she thought it was. Still, she powered through and continued as the caring mother she was.

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@flowerrage via Instagram

Shawne chose to share her life, as well as the entire current situation story over TikTok. She recalled, "(The Sheriff) became extremely interested in who I was and my personal information and, after a few minutes of having a conversation about who I was, he asked me to please sit down and that he had something to tell me."

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A Flashback of Unfortunate Events

Once seated, she was entirely in the dark. A series of frightful possibilities ran through her mind with all the possible reasons as to why she was in this situation. What could it be that the policeman had to tell her with such intensity? Was her mother no longer alive?

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@thebeardedmom via TikTok

Shawne finally sat down and explained more over TikTok. She elaborated, "He told me that he couldn't find any information on my mother but that I was a missing person." In complete denial, she immediately questioned this. This was surely wrong. Right? But, to her despair, the policeman was unfortunately correct.

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The Full Story

To refrain Shawne from spiraling out of fear, the sheriff explained to her more about the situation. The phone conversation was far from over. But, he started slowly by explaining to Shawne that shortly after she was born, in 1980, someone had filed a report of a missing person to the police.

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@danni_gaminglove via Instagram

Those who filed the reports were her birth parents! They told the police station their newborn daughter was kidnapped, and immediately, the police started searching for her. But, the search was unsuccessful, and their daughter was forever gone. After twenty-six years, Shawne, the missing newborn, called the police out of fate.

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The Private Investigation

After endless years of soul searching, authorities could never find the missing daughter, that is, Shawne. Unlike most kidnapping cases, she grew up unaware of the truth and how she ended up in her position. She began to question the couple she referred to as 'mom and dad,' suspicious of who they were.

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@arik_dafan_investigators_team via Instagram

As anyone would, there were unlimited questions running through Shawne's mind. What started as a heartwarming search for her birth mother, her investigation ran its course and became more intense than ever. But she knew she couldn't face this alone - she called in a private investigator.

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Getting Answers

With the help of her private investigator, things were finally starting to fall into place. The investigator was eager to help Shawne and wanted to know what happened to her after she was born. And at last, some useful information came to light about her past.

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@flowerrage via Instagram

More information and facts were unveiled. It was first confirmed that the couple who raised Shawne, who she referred to as mom and dad, were not her birth parents. While they thought this could have been a kidnapping, as police told her she was taken as a baby, the investigator found out something even worse.

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Scheming Since Birth

The PI revealed to Shawne that she was not kidnapped after all: She was sold as a baby. After she was born, her birth mother disturbingly swapped Shawne in exchange for money. Following the swap, her birth mother went to the police, manipulated the story, and told them she had been taken.

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@thebeardedmom via TikTok

It was a plan that Shawne's birth mother had calculated to perfection, becoming a part of the investigation and pleading for her newborn's return. She even told family and friends to start searching while everyone was left in the dark about the scam. Shawne explained on TikTok, "my mother's family - they all believe I was kidnapped." 

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Stepping Forward

This was a plan that had been executed with detail. Shawne's birth mother went to the extremes of telling law enforcement agents what had happened. She explained a man named Steven had taken baby Shawne - which actually turned out to be relatively true.

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@thebeardedmom via TikTok

While Steven didn't kidnap Shawne, he was the man who raised her… This odd detail left investigators confused. Did Shawne's birth mom secretly want the police to find her daughter? They questioned the point of giving away the name of the man she sold her baby to.

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Who Were Shawne's Parents?

Although the name Steven had now come out into the open, the investigators had still not entirely cleared everything up. There was no further information on him. However, it turns out that throughout Shawne's disappearance, Steven and his wife Angie continued raising their new baby girl.

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@emilyselegance via Instagram

The couple who brought up Shawne was also unaware of what the police had to deal with at the time. They had no idea their daughter was, in fact, missing. Unfortunately, while it was shocking to learn Steven and Angie did buy Shawne off her birth parents, this was not the only frightening thing they were guilty of.

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Traumatizing Childhood

It is perhaps not surprising to learn that Steven and Angie might not have been the most loving parents. Considering they had bought Shawne from strangers, this raised enough red flags to believe she might not be in the safest hands. Unfortunately, she had to deal with childhood trauma and parents who neglected her growing up.

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@0becki0 via Instagram

Shawne confirmed she dealt with numerous traumatic experiences, living in an emotionally unstable environment. Now, as an adult, she has realized Steven and Angie were the root cause of this parental treatment. They managed to make their way into her life in an unhealthy manner, leading to traumatizing events.

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"They Treated Me.. Terribly"

Considering her concerning upbringing, Shawne continues to speak out about her childhood experience today. TikTok has mainly been her go-to platform for sharing her life story with her followers. Her supportive viewers have even grown her following immensely, raising awareness.

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@0becki0 via Instagram

Although Shawne tries to blur out her childhood as much as possible, she tries to set the scene as vividly as she can for her followers. She clarifies her childhood in a specific TikTok video, saying, "it was confusing. I couldn't work out why they didn't love me and why they treated me as terribly as they did."

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Confronting Her Birth Mom

Shawne believed that finding her birth parents would solve all her problems and answer all her questions. If she reunited with them one day, it would be a joyous and emotional moment for all. Right? As trauma stands, it was not that easy. The pain continued and made things worse. And Shawne needed closure to move on.

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@thebeardedmom via TikTok

As soon as the investigator found Shawne's birth mom, she contacted her immediately, asking to meet in person. But her mother had no remorse for the situation. What turned out to be a stomach-sinking moment for Shawne, her birth mother ignored her actions and even refused to apologize.

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Shawne's Grandmother

Her birth mother made things worse, letting down Shawne and her expectations as an adopted child. Moving forward, she tried to reach out to her extended family on her mom's side. She was hopeful that this would give her some answers and true family love, but again, it was a disappointment.

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@flowerrage via Instagram

When the police reports confirmed baby Shawne had allegedly been kidnapped, only the woman who filed the report knew the truth. It was a 1-man plan - even her biological family was under the impression she had really been taken all these years. And her grandma, unfortunately, spent years grieving over her lost granddaughter.

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The Outcome

Eventually, Shawne's grandmother was told the truth about what happened to her. With a glimmer of hope, she was overwhelmed at the fact that she was going to meet her again. After imagining scenarios moments prior to reuniting, they both had high hopes. Unfortunately, the pair did not have the special bond as hoped.

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@thebeardedmom via TikTok

Shawne was reaching her last moments of patience. Nothing was going as planned, no matter how much she persevered. It was an emotional rollercoaster and went downhill when her birth family didn't even accept her for who she was. However, despite everything that already went wrong, there was something hopeful in Shawne's eyes.

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Shawne's Plan

Because of her story, Shawne gained a huge TikTok following after she posted videos explaining her childhood trauma. Her followers and viewers became more supportive each day, pushing her not to lose hope and look for the light at the end of the tunnel. She had gathered her own online support system.

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@thebeardedmom via TikTok

Her fanbase became so intense that one viewer even offered to help Shawne on her journey. While her mother was no help, fans suggested that she should search for her biological father instead. This could be the answer to Shawne's investigation and a chance to find happiness with her biological family!

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Her Biological Father

Social media worked its wonders once again, and Shawne accepted the challenge. It turns out they did not need much help. With the help of one follower, it didn't take long to uncover more truth for the hopeful girl. No one knows or understands how the user did it, but it helped immensely...

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@bluebloodi_ via Instagram

Shawne only wanted answers. She did not care how or who she got them from. After all, she had already been through enough, considering that her other family members had dismissed her existence. Sure enough, one TikTok user led her to a promising match. Without hesitation, Shawne reached out, asking for a DNA test.

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Father-Daughter Bond

The man had agreed to take part in the DNA test, and the results were exactly what she needed: the stranger found online turned out to be a perfect match! Unlike the other experiences with her family, she and her father had an instant father-daughter connection. But despite the joy, she still needed an explanation.

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@thebeardedmom via TikTok

Her father explained to her that the pregnancy was unfortunately not planned. It was a bittersweet story, learning that he was not romantically involved with Shawne's birth mom, so he had no idea what happened to her after birth. Today, they maintain a close relationship, and he even appears on her TikTok page.

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Emotionally Healing

Shawne had been through emotions and scenarios that she would have never imagined. The process was extremely tiring for her. After abandonment, rejection, and disappointment from her biological family members, she gained valuable life lessons. Now an engaged woman, she knows how to treat family.

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@flowerrage via Instagram

Though Shawne gained some happiness after reuniting with her birth father, she was still left crushed and disorientated from her childhood and investigation. It was one disappointment after another, something she never expected, and turned her life upside down.

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Despite the upset caused by her dismissive grandmother and other family members, Shawne - for the loving human she was - remained to think positively about her birth family. For Stevie and Angie, these were the people who brought her up, instead of her birth mom - and she cared for them dearly.

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@thebeardedmom via TikTok

Shawne later revealed in a video, "I did feel love at times… When you're in an abusive situation, you will take even little bits of love and cherish that. It's complicated." Though she has managed to remove Stevie and Angie from her life, it is difficult to erase an entire childhood experience.

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Learning To Self-Love

As for today? Shawne focuses on herself and self-love. She told her fanbase, “I’m doing much better now… I own my own business. I don’t have any contact with any of my family. I do have a very complicated relationship with my children that I would love to repair. And I spend every day trying to do that. I’m not perfect.”

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@thebeardedmom via TikTok

Her entire TikTok feed is overwhelmed with support and those wishing Shawne only ultimate happiness in the future. She explained, "Love all the pieces of who you are. We grow and become different people with every choice we make! Choose happiness and self-love."

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