Last week, the 50-year-old case of Stephen Damman captured everyone’s attention. A Michigan man, John Barnes, contacted Damman’s father, believing he was actually Stephen.
All kinds of media attention followed, until DNA tests revealed that there was no way Barnes and Damman were related.
I was suspicious of this from the beginning. It just seemed like a scam or a bid for attention, although there was no evidence Barnes ever tried to get money from the Damman family. Barnes is alienated from his own family, who expressed anger with him and pointed out there are pictures of him as a baby with his family. He based his suspicions on a feeling he never really fit in his own family, and what he believed was a deathbed confession by his mother, although even he acknowledged she was on medication and not making a lot of sense at the time.
Turns out those of us who were questioning this whole thing were right – according to this Associated Press story, few if any long lost children ever turn up. Most missing children are found very quickly.
However, around fifteen people have approached the Center for Missing and Exploited Children over the years with suspicions similar to Barnes – and not one person has been the missing child they thought they were.
This whole thing is just sad. Losing a child is the nightmare scenario for any parent, and to have hopes raised and just dashed is horrible.