In December 1936, Camilla Warner reunited with her long-lost son 41 years after he was kidnapped and given away for adoption without her consent. She called it a Christmas miracle made possible by generous strangers across the country who were touched by her story.
In 1895, Warner, just 18-years-old, lost her young husband when he died in an accident. Pregnant with their first child, she worried about how she could provide for her son alone. She was also a new immigrant, having arrived from Denmark just two years earlier. Determined to keep her child, Warner got a job as a waitress and made arrangements with a maternity home to care for the baby while she was at work. In exchange, she promised to work for a year to pay her expenses.
“One day I saw them taking the baby in the office,” she recalled. “He was the prettiest one in the nursery, and people were always wanting to adopt him. They told me they were just showing him to someone.”
When Warner went to pick up her son after work, they told her he’d been taken away by a man in a shiny carriage. A devastated Warner began searching for him vowing that she would never stop. “Nowadays there are kidnapping laws, but then the law of the six-shooter ruled Nebraska, she said. “I spent all the money I had searching for him.”
Weeks turned to months, then years, and finally decades. Warner never gave up hope. She later remarried and moved to California. In December 1936, she had a vivid dream where her son appeared to her. “He had a son with him. I said, ‘what a fine boy’ and my son kissed me,” she said. Later that day Warner found a letter under her doorstep. It included an advertisement placed by a 41-year-old Nebraska man who was searching for his mother and a note that asked, “Am I your son?” It was from Richard Douglas Foster, the baby she hadn’t seen in 41 years. He too had been searching relentlessly for her.
Anxious to reunite, neither of them had the money to make the trip to meet each other. The story was picked up by papers across the country and Canada, and as word spread, “a score of Santa Clauses made their appearance,” donating a railroad ticket, new clothing, and money to make the reunion possible. Camilla left Los Angeles and her son Richard started driving west from Scottsbluff. The two met in Yoder, Wyoming just before Christmas where they tearfully embraced. “From now on,” Warner said, “I will begin to live.” She lived out the final 13 years of her life with the love of her new-found family before passing away in 1949. Richard died two decades later in 1971. His obituary listed the name of his mother thanks to the reunion made possible by their Christmas miracle that occurred 35 years earlier.
Historic newspapers are full of more touching holiday stories like this one. To read more,
35 thoughts on “Christmas Miracle: Mother Reunites with Kidnapped Son Missing 41 Years!”
Thank you wonderful story was always an an avid newspaper reader every morning now on an aged pension cannot afford to be a subscriber
would you like a subscription for Christmas? They have my email from this comment, or I’m on Facebook as Craig Timberlake
Omg, the story was touching enough, but your comment to Annie was amazing. Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!
How kind of you Craig xx
Craig, what a lovely offer – best wishes to you and your family x
What a lovely person you are!
Aha! A Christmas elf in the guise of a man named Craig who certainly embodies the spirit of Christmas.
What a truly amazing story!! How lucky to find someone you lost back then. Not like today with the internet. I have a subscription to newspapers.com but only 6 months at a time as the exchange rate is wicked and my hubby is recently unemployed, at Christmas…. sheesh. Blessings all!
This is an awesome story. I thank God they were able to reunite.
The Berkshie Eagle in Pittsfield, MA.
18 April 1911
FINDS DAUGHTER AFTER SEARCH OF YEARS
This young girl lived in the house next door (house was torn down). She went to school with my grand aunt Vina. I saved the article in my grand aunt’s Gallery. It was about the father reuniting with daughter. His wife died young and daughter and father were separated. Daughter’s husband helped her search for her father.
How much is a subscription?
Either $19.90 per month for full access (or $74.90 for 6 months, saving $44.50), or $7.95 a month for basic access (or $44.95 for 6 months, saving $2.75).
I have an Ancestry.com subscription which includes the BASIC Newspapers.com subscription. That BASIC access is worthless. If I do a search, anything I find requires the full access subscription and I’m asked for more $$. Don’t be fooled by a basic access subscription.
You can actually do quite a lot with your ancestry.com access to newspapers.com. Each newspaper page has a unique identifier number in the URL (website address). If you remove what comes after that number, it will take you to the ‘overview’ webpage of that newspaper page. Below the thumbnail of the page, there is an OCR (autogenerated) text transcript of the newspaper’s contents. Since it’s autogenerated, the text is wildly incorrect, but usually easily decipherable (letters get misread by the autogeneration, eg: e’s get transposed for c’s, etc.). You can find the basic text of most obits and other documents this way. While it’s not as perfect as viewing the article/newspaper page itself (digital or print), it’s a good starting place. Sometimes, good samaritans have taken ‘clips’ (screenshot snippets) of the pages as well and you can (rarely) luck out with a view of the actual article. These can also be saved as images for your own records or uploading to an online tree (though copyrights still stand and it risks being removed). Make sure to note the newspaper source info if you copy any info/images, for later retrieval/research/fact-checking.
Alternatively, if you can find someone with a paid subscription, you may be able to get them to send you screen snips of the articles you are most interested in, or share an account if you trust each other enough. I’m not advocating everyone do so – I simply know how tight money can be (I’m behind on rent by more than half this month!) and that it’s one way to pursue what you desire. I know you’d very likely pay for a subscription if you could! As would I. Merry Christmas!
Thanks for the tips Aurora. I’ll give it a try.
Wonderful story and enjoyed very much! The highest priced Ancestry membership is supposed to include a newspapers.com subscription but when one tries to search for family articles on the site are directed to pay for a premium subscription. For me in the U.S. 11.95 more a month. Don’t fall for it, it’s a bait and switch. My family is from the Boston area and the newspapers there won’t allow it so I can’t find anything without paying more money. Also the website is not very user friendly. Ancestry.com should advise people the membership to newspapers.com does not come with full access or remove the fake membership to it in the highest priced membership. Very misleading advertising.
I agree the amount of times I have found something to find I have to pay extra to get to that bit
This was an awesome and touching story.so glad tbey found each other and was able to be together for 13 years.
A wonderful story, I don’t know how I would have survived without either of my children, and I am sure she never thought she would see him again, I am just so glad that she found him.
Definitely a Christmas miracle.
I’m searching for my son who was put up for adoption in 1964. The agency was in Long Branch, NJ..
I named him Vincent Earl Gifford in honor of my 1st brother that passed away on December 9th, 1960.
I would be extremely grateful for your help in finding him. He’s 55 years old as of September 22nd 2019..
It would be the greatest blessing of my life.
Audrey! Take a DNA test! This is less than $100 and the results will be put into a national database. You might not get instant results but, at least if he wants to find you, he will now be able to because your information will be there. It’s totally worth it! Have you thought about contacting the TV show “Long Lost Family “? You must look this show up because they can find practically anyone. ❤️
Do take a DNA test. My adopted daughter was matched with family members who led her to her birth father.
Do a search for “Search Angels.” There is a group of people who do searches for people like you, but you do have to do an AncestryDNA test, currently $59. They are on Facebook, Dna Detectives, I think they’re called.
I was able to solve the 75-year-old mystery of my father’s beginnings and you can do the same to track down your son.
First, test with AncestryDNA. Also join the DNA Detectives group on Facebook. Search Squad is another good Facebook group. Between those, you will have the tools you need to find your son. Best wishes to you!
DNA tests are all on sale, great investment, I suggest also using the site Family Search, it’s free.
God is always listening, and He does, indeed, answer prayers… but He does so in His time. We should pray for His will, not our own. Our understanding of His will for our life is like a single grain of sand compared to all the sand on all the beaches in all the world.
A great story; albeit a really old one. Do you have anything more current?
Im on a very low foxed budget. Can afford anything. Finding out abput my family therapy.
Many new a venues to reunite those orphans, adopted, to birth parents. Try free Family Search. There is a subgroup called orphan adoption and unknown ( or something like that)community that can be a real help
The story is similar to what happened to babies stolen by Georgia Tann while she was the director for many years of Tennessee orphan homes. She stole approximately 5000 young children from poor families and sold them to wealthy families. There is a group formed that perhaps could help parents with similar stories and looking for family. In an article I read It is referred to
Tennessee’s Right to Know, a volunteer agency that reunites families separated by adoption, in Memphis.
The story of Georgia Tann stealing babies is well known and written about for anyone interested in learning more. And books have been written on the subject as well.
What a story! I’m sure it’s very hard when a parent is forced by circumstances to put her child up for adoption, but to have the “stolen” from her must be horrific! I’m so glad this mother and son were able to find each other–albeit 40 years later!
My brother was given up for adoption 4 years before I was born in 2000 I kept having dreams for about 6 months of a guy chasing me and on the last dream he caught up with me and said don’t worry I am your brother. I woke with a lovely feeling, the next day my mum had a letter saying he was looking for us.
Thank you for sharing this wonderful and positive story!
“I will begin to live.”
Is there more in the newspapers regarding this mother and son?
The reason I ask is that I and my sister were abandoned in a dog pound in Douglas county NE in 1948, and at my and DHHS las search for information, no files exist, not do newspaper accounts or police files regarding either of us. OPD was exceedingly rude when I made an inquiry-not surprisingly, and the State has evidently purged the 16 years history of my life as a ward of NE. The main newspaper, the Omaha World Herald has no reports -no police reports or other regarding the two girls found… my sister was not yet a year old and I was shy of about 3 months of being 3 years old.
The State will give me no information regarding my sister who most likely still is unaware of her adoptee status. I was adopted in August of 1950 at 5 1/2 years of age. My sister was adopted somewhere around six months of her abandonment-much before me.
NE is a sealed document state where adoptees are considered meaning that without a judge’s permission they cannot have their own birth certificate.(This since ca 1945-46) As neither one of us are children of the state-born elsewhere, I was able to procure my and my sister’s birth records and with DNA and much searching have pieced together family history stretching across 4 continents along with some well known historical individuals.
I am sill searching for my sister and keep hoping that I will find her. Our brother was taken with our parents, and unfortunately by the time I found him again, he had died.
FYI: DNA matches of parent-child for adoptees is very rare; siblings are found-but more likely to be 1/2 sibs rather than full; cousins may know some of your story, but most don’t.
For those in search I suggest using a reputable Search Angel like Priscilla Stone Sharp who has a FB group and has been an adoptee advocate for years. . The true Search Angel charges nothing to aid an adoptee’s search.
Happy holidays to all. I wish for all adoptees that they find their truths and thier families.
Wonderful heart warming story. Craig, your heart is right.
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