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Facebook Photos Help Bay Area Mom Hope Holland Reunite with Kidnapped Son After 15 Years

July 3, 2015 by Brett Wilkins in Society with 0 Comments
Hope and Jonathan Holland before the boy's 1999 kidnapping by his father. (NBC Bay Area screen grab)

Hope and Jonathan Holland before the boy’s 1999 kidnapping by his father. (NBC Bay Area screen grab)

A photo posted on Facebook helped reunite a northern California mother with her son who was abducted 15 years ago when he was just 3 years old.

The last time Hope Holland saw her son Jonathan was in 1999 just before the toddler was kidnapped by his father and taken from his Campbell home to Mexico, where he was raised. But his mother never stopped searching for him, working with child services and private investigators in an attempt to locate the missing boy.

“First three years of his life he was only with me,” Hope told NBC Bay Area. “I was completely absorbed for some time just looking for him.”

Although Jonathan no longer remembered his mother, last year he decided to post an old photo of the two of them on Facebook with the hope that she, or perhaps his older brother, might see it.

Hope did see the photo.

“I’m happy he wanted to know me,” she told NBC Bay Area. Hope has been in constant contact with her son since then, and the pair recently enjoyed an emotional reunion in her Campbell home. In an interview with ABC 7, Hope confessed she’d almost given up.

“I was suicidal. I was pretty much done,” she said. “I had no reason to believe I was finding my son. Ever since I found him, my whole world, my whole outlook and direction changed.”

Mother and son seem to have a promising future together. They are learning that they have a lot in common, including a love of spicy food, basketball and bicycling.

Hope said she had no reason to believe Jonathan’s father, with whom she shared custody, would not bring her son home, despite a history of abusive treatment.

“His dad was going on vacation and had permission to take him. It was a normal day,” she explained to ABC 7. “I didn’t think he was not coming back.”

Jonathan, who is not in direct contact with his father, will be reunited with his brother Jacob next. He then plans to return to Mexico to finish his final year of high school before coming back to California again, possibly for good.

Social media sites, especially Facebook, have increasingly been helpful in reuniting separated families, some who haven’t had contact in decades. On Thursday, 53-year-old Ashley Manetta, who suffers from cancer and amnesia, was reunited with relatives five months after showing up in a San Diego hospital emergency room, thanks largely to a Facebook post that went viral.

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