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Monica Libao

Monica Libao was a teen when she heard the story

Monica Libao was a teen when she heard the story

A woman who believes she was kidnapped as an infant wants to find her real family.

In May of 1970, somewhere in Texas, a little girl named Monica Libao clutched her only friend and waited patiently. Her family was on the move again. Monica would move a total of 28 times in 15 years, nearly one move every six months:

“I would come home from school, you know, and there would be boxes everywhere, and I knew it was time to go again.”

Monica’s parents, Pablo and Burma Libao, were relatively old to have children her age. Monica’s two half-sisters were already grown and had moved away. Monica had learned not to question her family’s nomadic lifestyle or why she was always kept home from school on class picture days. Then, at age 16, Monica came across a long buried family secret:

“My mother got ill and I had to transfer her medical papers to where she was in the hospital. I began reading through my mom’s folder. That’s when I found out that my mother had a total hysterectomy in 1945. There’s no way I could have belonged to her.”

If Burma Libao wasn’t Monica’s mother, then who was? Monica confronted her alleged mother Burma, and asked her for the truth:

“She got mad. But she told me that my mother was a family member, my sister. I was shocked. That was probably the worst shock of my life.”

It was true that Monica’s half-sister was much older –19 years, in fact– but was she truly Monica’s mother? Monica had to find out and confronted her sister:

“I asked her straight out if she was my mother and she said, ‘No, I’m not your mother.’ She said ‘Mom just doesn’t want to face the truth.’ And my sister told me that my real mother sold me for a bus ticket to New York and that she was trash and no good, and that I didn’t need to know her anyway.”

Monica had to stay home on class picture day

Monica had to stay home on class picture day

Now faced with two conflicting and bizarre stories, Monica didn’t know who to trust or what to believe. After searching her home, Monica finally found her birth certificate, which indicated she was born in Chicago during the early 1960s. But strangely, it listed no hospital, no address, and no doctor. Also, the document had been filed when Monica was seven years-old, not at her birth.

Years later, in 1990, at the age of 26, Monica contacted an Illinois judge, hoping to locate her adoption records. But the judge’s response only deepened the mystery:

“The judge told me that she could not find anything from the years 1962, ’63, ’64, and that she had searched all the records that they have there.”

For the next decade, Monica was haunted by the strange and conflicting stories about her past. Still, she managed to get on with her life, marry, and have a daughter of her own.�
One day, during a rare family get-together, Monica decided to try one last time to find out the truth and confronted Burma once again:

“My mom, at that point, was just angry, very angry. She started getting mad.  And my sister, she just kind of looked at her.”

According to Monica, her half-sister suddenly became irate. She began ranting about how, nearly four decades earlier, her mother had hidden a tiny baby from the police. Monica was stunned. In an instant, her past came flooding back. She remembered as a teenager overhearing her father talk about stashing a cardboard box in a bar, something about roadblocks, and the need to tell the truth. To Monica, a disturbing scenario had begun to emerge: 

“The indication that I got from the whole thing is that my mother had probably kidnapped me. I really started thinking, ‘My God, how could they just up and take me from somebody?’”

Whichever way she turned, Monica was faced with a troubling past. Had she been abducted as an infant, a horrible crime that forced Pablo and Burma Libao to constantly run from the law? Perhaps a desperate young woman had sold Monica for the price of a bus ticket? Or, maybe the woman Monica knew as her half-sister was actually her own birth mother. Whatever the answer may be, Monica is desperate to find out the truth:

“I would be willing to go through anything, a DNA test, anything at all to be able to find out the truth behind all this. I am without an identity. I am searching and I’m probably going keep searching. I’m not going to give up.”

Monica was born with a uniquely shaped ear lobe on her left ear, a clue that may help confirm her true identity. If she was in fact kidnapped, she believes it happened in the Miami, Florida area in 1963 or 1964.