‘It’s so sad after 51 years,’ her father, Jeffrie Highsmith, told CBS News. His words show how the family reunion has been for everyone.
Her mother, Atla Apantencl, told news stations that she thought she would never see her daughter again through tears.
Melissa’s case was one of the oldest cases of a missing person in the U.S.
Alta, Melissa’s real mother, was a single parent who worked full-time in Fort Worth, Texas, when she hired a babysitter to take care of Melissa.
She was at work when the babysitter came to her room. Melissa was to spend the day with the babysitter, but she never came back. Police had doubts about Alta for a long time.
Melissa had been living less than 20 minutes away, as it turned out. DNA didn’t give the Highsmiths a clue until many years after the crime.
Melissa was living under the name Melanie Walden. The case would be solved by the DNA of her children.
Her family had been looking for her for years. 23 and Me used a DNA test to show that Melissa’s children are related to the Highsmiths.
Her family tried to get in touch with her through Facebook, but Melissa thought it might be a trick.
She said, ‘My father sent me a message on Messenger and said, ‘You know, I’ve been looking for my daughter for 51 years.’
She went up to the person she thought was her mother and asked, ‘Is there anything you need to tell me?’
It turned out that the person knew she was baby Melissa, which made it all seem real. After that, she agreed to a DNA test.
On Thanksgiving, Melissa saw a sibling she hadn’t seen in a long time and met the parents she didn’t know she had.
Melissa told ABC WFAA in an interview that the woman who raised her never made her feel loved. At age 15, she ran away from home and ‘worked the streets.’ We don’t know anything about the woman who took her.
Meeting her family has been a lot for Melissa. Melissa says, ‘It’s overwhelming, but at the same time, it’s the best feeling in the world.’ ’My heart is so full of feelings that it’s about to burst.’
Her mother told her that she is ‘elated’ and doesn’t know how to explain how she feels. She said, ‘It’s a miracle.’ Melissa added, ‘It’s a Christmas miracle.’