HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - His birth name was Marx Panama Moriarty Barnes. When he was six months old and living with his parents in Hawaii, his mother, Charlotte Moriarty, took him and left his father.
She ended up in a psychiatric hospital. When she checked out, she left her son in state custody under a false name and disappeared. That was 1977.
"That baby picture I saw on the web site was the first picture of me that I'd ever seen as a baby," he said.
The state put him in an orphanage. He lived there until he was four.
Steve and Pat Carter adopted him and named him Steve. The family moved to the mainland.
"My life has been filled with joy," he said.
Carter knew he was adopted, but a nagging feeling about why his birth certificate was created when he was already a year old motivated him to search for answers. He found them in an unlikely place. When he went to the web site for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, he entered his state of birth and his age.
He was stunned.
"The first picture that pops up is Marx Panama Moriarty Barnes," he said.
He was starting at an age progression image created by the center. He said it was like looking in a mirror.
"It gave me chills," he said. "When you see the picture, you're like, oh, my God. That's me!"
Carter didn't want to come forward at first, but his wife and family urged him to contact the center and Honolulu police. HPD had him do a DNA test. Everything matched up.
"The similarities between when he went missing, the fact that his birthday is the day after the one I've always celebrated, and the fact that the composite picture looked like almost the spitting image of what I look like," he said.
Since the discovery last October, Carter has spoken with his biological father, Mark Barnes. And he's met Charlotte Moriarty's daughter, his older half sister. She's the one who urged the center to create the picture he saw. Neither she nor Steve know what happened to their mom.
"I hope she's healthy and happy. If she's ready to come out, she will. And if she's not, I just wish her the best," he said.
For the last 35 years Steve Carter has lived a settled life. He's married and works in the medical software industry in Philadelphia.
People magazine featured his story in its latest issue. But he believes the real story is the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, what it does to keep hope alive, and what it did for him.