A young boy got swallowed up by a busy market while hunting for his mother -- lost and distraught. A taxi driver came up to him -- this one interaction completely transformed his life.
In 1985 and at the tender age of 5 years old, Joel, originally from Quezon City in the Philippines, woke up to find that his mom was nowhere to be seen. She had already left for work.
The little boy didn't want her flatmates to look after him. So, he left the house on a mission to find his mother. Joel didn't know that this search would last three whole decades.
[Left] A picture of a young Joel De Carteret on a poster; [Right] Joel De Carteret when he was a child. | Source: youtube.com/60 Minutes Australia
A LIFE-CHANGING INCIDENT
The boy had been looking for his mom in a busy street market in Manila. At this point, Joel had been searching for his mother the whole day and was lost.
Trying to help, a taxi driver took Joel to an orphanage, where the boy's life took a complete turn. A woman adopted him from Melbourne, Australia, Julie De Carteret.
While it took the young boy time to transition to what was an entirely new world, Joel, now Joel De Carteret, eventually adapted and grew up living a great life in the "Land Down Under."
Joel De Carteret with his adoptive mother Julie De Carteret when he was a young boy. | Source: youtube.com/60 Minutes Australia
A JOURNEY INTO THE PAST
Even with this wonderful upbringing, something in Joel constantly ached to find his biological mother. So, in 2017, he took the leap and decided to, once again, search the streets of the Philippines. He hopped on a plane with no solid plan.
When he got there, he returned to the same market where he got lost as a boy decades earlier. Four weeks into his journey, he ran into a couple named Vicki and Danny.
He expressed utter disbelief...saying it did not feel real.
Their son went missing at the same time as his disappearance, causing them to think they may be family. Sadly, D.N.A showed that it was a mistake and they were not related.
Joel De Carteret searching for his biological mother in the Philippines. | Source: youtube.com/60 Minutes Australia
A MASSIVE BREAKTHROUGH
But, not too long after, he took to regional television and radio stations, asking if anyone had information. This was a game-changer.
A person who heard about Joel's plight brought him a photo of a family, which a young Joel was clearly in. From this picture, he could trace his biological mother: Herminia Rio.
Herminia Rio. | Source: youtube.com/60
FINALLY COMING TOGETHER
The two had a beautiful reunion right before Joel had to return to Australia. He eventually came back to his birth country with his adoptive mother so all three of them could spend time together. Julie said:
"He was a dear little boy. I always knew there was another woman out there who loved him, never for a minute thinking that I would meet her."
Eventually, later in 2017, Rio came to visit them in Australia. She and her biological son gave each other a tight hug at the airport while Julie smiled lovingly at them.
JUST LIKE THE MOVIES
Julie expressed her joy over the reunion, saying it was an amazing occurrence. As the biological mother stated:
"It's wonderful. It's just a happy ending. Everybody loves a happy ending."
Rio expressed her appreciation toward Julie for raising Joel. Without her, the possibility of this happy ending may have never existed.
It looked to be a definite happy ending for Joel. He expressed utter disbelief about having his biological mom in Australia with him, saying it did not feel real. In his own words, he expressed:
"It's surreal. It's really surreal. You know, six months ago, I would never have thought my biological mom would be sitting next to me, and we get to hang out [sic]."
Most importantly, Joel managed to find a missing part of himself. As he said, he had to rediscover that boy who got lost in the market decades ago.
RIPPED AWAY FROM HIS FAMILY
Joel's story clarifies that our origins make a huge difference in our identity. So, when we become disconnected from this, we can feel physically and internally lost.
This slow erosion of Clifford Boyson's selfhood began when he was just a child. He was thrown into foster care; he and his four siblings were torn apart and sent to different homes.
But, he was determined to see his siblings again. He sent an uncountable number of letters out to find out if anyone knew where they were.
However, 7-year-old Eddie Hanzlin had a better approach, using the internet to help his now-elderly neighbor Boyson.
The boy managed to find his one sister Betty Billadeau via a Facebook search. This discovery led to an emotional reunion between the brother and sister. Tragically all the other siblings had passed away.
But, at least, as with Joel, Boyson was now able to connect with someone who reflected a piece of who he was back at him -- a kind of home he always longed for inside.