Colorado mom Bernice Abeyta is battling a rare gallbladder cancer. The odds of her surviving are slim. But that’s not the only thing the 73-year-old is fighting for. She’s also fighting to reunite with her son, Christopher, who was taken from his crib three decades ago.
Abeyta recently sat down with ABC News to share her story.
"Of course, I would like to have him back," she said. "I've always felt very positive that even though it's been 30 years, it would happen. I think that's what kept me going in trying to find him. There's no way we were going to forget him."
Christopher, the youngest of seven kids, was just 7 months old when he was kidnapped. His older sister, Denise Alves, who was 15 years old at the time of his disappearance, told ABC about what she remembered from the night before Christopher went missing on July 15, 1986.
I believe that all of us parents need justice. There's a lot of forgiveness going around, but ask a parent if they'd forgive.
Alves said she gave Christopher his bottle before she and her mother put him down in his crib. He was gone by the following morning, which sent shock waves through the community. Alves said she admires her mom’s tenacity. She remained strong, despite being under suspicion by police at one time.
Abeyta never gave up looking for her son. The persistent mom worked with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children while the police worked on the case. She also passed out pictures of Christopher in the community, hoping to find him.
The Colorado Springs Police Department said the investigation is ongoing and they do have a person of interest, which couldn't come at a better time. In May, Abeyta was given four to eight months to live. So the family is hoping to reunite with Christopher before it's too late.
"She is dying, she knows it, we know it," Alves said. "She's in the room as I'm talking and it's sad, but this is the reality. Maybe the answer isn't what we hoped for, that he's alive, but she'll leave knowing and we can be at peace and finally put him to rest."
I can’t begin to imagine being in Abeyta’s shoes. I had so many emotions reading her story. Angry was at the top of my list, along with inspired. I feel inspired by her strength to keep fighting for her son. But it’s hard not to get angry at the thought of an innocent child being snatched away from his family.
Despite her heartbreak and pain, Abeyta still manages to find a silver lining. She spoke about sending positive vibes Christopher’s way with the hope that he’ll find his family. Abeyta also talked about forgiveness.
“I believe that all of us parents need justice. There's a lot of forgiveness going around, but ask a parent if they'd forgive," she said.
I often hear people speak about the meaning of forgiveness, but I still don’t get it. I’ve heard Oprah explain that forgiving means letting go and taking the power away from those who’ve hurt you. But, let’s be real. There are some things that are worth forgiving, like an accidental push. However, if someone came into my home and kidnapped my baby, there’s no way I could forgive that person. Just think of all the precious milestones that I'd miss out on—birthdays, graduations, weddings, you name it.
It has nothing to do with being weak or powerless. How could I forgive someone who did something so cruel?
Abeyta's strength and persistence speaks to that undying love moms are capable of. My heart goes out to Abeyta and the rest of her family, and I hope she reunites with Christopher soon.
Photographs by: Denise Alves/Abeyta Family