A Washington state woman has reunited with her family, more than four decades after she became lost in Penn Station.
Mika Cheesman, 47, was 4 years old when she wandered while walking in the New York City transit hub with her mother in 1975. She was eventually adopted after her birth family could not be located.
Now, more than 40 years later, she has reunited with family members, thanks to a Florida investigator and DNA testing sites.
“I was in Penn Station with my mother, walking around. I saw a candy store. I walked in it," Cheesman recalled. "I went out, didn’t see her where she was standing."
Cheesman said she searched for her mom, who was reportedly mentally ill at the time, until she was eventually picked up by a cop. She then landed at the New York Foundling, which was run by the Sisters of Charity.
At the time, the New York Post ran an article about Cheesman, whom the nuns at the orphanage called “Missy.” The article said the then 4-year-old had been found in "excellent" condition, but the Missing Persons Bureau was unable to locate her family.
She would later find out that her mom, Barbara Wright, was hospitalized after her disappearance. It was two years later, in 1977, that she was adopted by a family in Spring Valley, N.Y., into what she calls an unfortunate situation of abuse. Both of her adoptive parents are now dead.
Her grandmother said she tried to find Cheesman but by that time she had already been adopted and her records were closed.
“I’ve known I’ve wanted to find my family all my life and I kept asking my adoptive parents questions and all they kept saying was, 'Oh, she just left you in a train station,’” Cheesman said. "I’m like, 'OK, that still doesn’t give me any answers.'"
It wasn’t until 1999, when she reached out to the orphanage that she found the New York Post article.
Cheesman posted on a genealogy site about her story, asking for help finding her family.
Lynn-Marie Carty, who has reunited many families over the years, answered the call. But it wasn’t until this year that Carty located some of Cheesman's family members after having her take a DNA test.
"I was determined to solve her case before I left the earth," Carty told InsideEdition.com. "I bought her a DNA test. I loaded her DNA on multiple sites. Finally, I was able to connect with her first cousin."
From there, Carty located Cheesman’s mother and father. Her father, 75-year-old Richard Smith, had thought his daughter was deceased.
Although she doesn’t plan to reunite with her parents until September, Cheesman has spoken to them on the phone. Carty arranged for Cheesman to meet her uncle and birth sister in Florida a few weeks ago.
“Everybody’s so happy to know their lost little girl is back,” Cheesman said. “So I’m pretty happy too.”
She is excited about the future and getting to know her birth family.
“All my life I was never angry with my birth family at all,” she said. “I knew that one day maybe I’d find somebody, I’m very happy."
Photo credit: PaulRFarmer.com