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Adoptee finds himself on missing-children Web site

Wondering about his past, software salesman Steve Carter logs on to a missing-children Web site. He'd been adopted at age 4. On the site, however, he discovers an age-progression photo of himself.

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

It's inevitable when you're adopted that, at some point in your life, you'll try and find out as much as you can about your birth parents -- who they might have been, who they might have become.

For software salesman Steve Carter, 35, that time seems to have come when he decided to have kids of his own.

He knew he'd been adopted from an orphanage in Honolulu when he was 4. As he thought more about his past, he saw the story of Carlina White, who went on a missing-children site and discovered she had been kidnapped as a baby.

Carter knew his own birth certificate hadn't been created until a year after his birth. He'd always felt that there were facts about his past that hadn't been uncovered. His birth certificate labeled him as half native Hawaiian. Yet his blond hair and blue eyes suggested to him that this might not be so.

So, as CBS News tells it, he went on to MissingKids.com.

He looked at children missing in Hawaii from the past 34 years. There, he found something startling: an age-progression picture of himself.

"My first thought was: Oh, my God. That's me," he told CBS News. The age-progression picture was remarkably faithful to the features that are now his.

So he contacted police in Hawaii, who then investigated and conducted a DNA test. Their conclusion was that Steve Carter was, in fact, Marx Panama Barnes. (One might guess that his parents weren't staunch conservatives.)

What Carter, who now lives in Philadelphia, further learned was that his biological mother had escaped with him when he was just a baby. She had altered his name, his birth date, and even his race.

CBS says his biological mother ended up in a psychiatric institution and no one knows if she is dead or alive.

So a search that revealed he'd had two birthdays, three birth certificates, and a total of 10 names, revealed much, but not everything, about Carter's past.

Perhaps the question for him now is whether to continue to search or simply be grateful that he can talk to his birth father -- Northern California resident Mark Barnes -- and be happy he has, at least, some answers to a past whose contents he could never have imagined.

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET