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At 34, Steve was looking through a missing children's website. Suddenly, he saw his own photo.

Steve Carter always had lingering questions about his past.

The then-34-year-old salesman from Philadelphia, US had known that he’d been adopted from an orphanage in Honolulu, Hawaii when he was four years old.

But he had little knowledge of who left him there and why.

The pull to find out about his past became stronger when he was thinking about having his own children. So he decided to start looking.

And that’s how in early 2011, he found himself staring at a photo of a boy that looked near identical to himself on a missing children’s website.

That photo was actually an age-progression image of what experts believe a six-month-old baby who went missing in the late 1970s may look like as a teenager.

Immediately, Steve knew it was him.

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The listing that Steve instantly recognised was about him. Image: MissingKids.com

In an interview with CNN the following year, Steve explained how he came to be searching on Missingkids.com.

Steve said he read an article about a woman, Carlina White, who had been reunited with her birth family in 2011 after being abducted by a nurse at a hospital in New York City as a newborn.

The nurse raised Carlina as her own daughter, calling her Nejdra Nance. It was only when Carlina was 23 that she looked on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children website that she learned the truth about what had happened to her and was a short time later reunited with her family.

Steve said he had a feeling that his case might just be the same, and went to Missingkids.com where he found the image of himself.

"I got chills," Steve later told People magazine. "I was like, 'Holy c**p, it's me".'

He told CNN that he immediately contacted the Honolulu Police Department.

"I let them know my info and they ran with it," he said. "They were the ones who did all the legwork" of investigating the case."

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He completed a DNA test and it took months for police to confirm, but eventually, they were able to tell him he was indeed the boy on the website.

Steve learned his birth name was Marx Panama Moriarty Barnes and that his father, Mark Barnes, had reported him missing after his mother, Charlotte Moriarty, went for a walk with him on 21 June, 1977 and never returned.

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Steve appeared on CNN after discovering the truth about his past. Image: CNN

Charlotte had gone to a stranger's home and given a fake name for herself and her son, which is where the case became confused. As People reported, Charlotte was taken to a psychiatric hospital, where baby Steve was put in protective care. She disappeared a few days later, and has never been found.

The fake name hampered police's efforts to reunite the baby with any living relatives and instead, he became a ward of the state.

Three years later he was adopted by Steve and Pat Carter, who raised their son in New Jersey.

A year after Steve learned the truth he made contact with members of his family - his older half-sister Jennifer Monnheimer, and his father.

Jennifer had been eight years old, living with her father in New Mexico, when she learned that her mother and her baby brother had gone missing. She long assumed they had died, but convinced authorities to reopen the case years later, which is how the age-progression image came about.

Mark Barnes told People that when he spoke to his son for the first time "All I could say was, 'Wow. Oh wow. Wow'."

He recalled how "rough" it had been to lose his girlfriend and son so suddenly like that and never locating them.

"I spent about a year and a half going crazy driving around the island," he told People.

In 2012 Steve said he was taking things slowly with his new relatives.

For him, knowing the truth was the most important part.

"It's good to know where you've come from."

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