Abducted: The Carlina White Story (2012 Lifetime)
Cast: Aunjanue Ellis, Keke Palmer, Sherri Shepherd
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Synopsis (via Lifetime)
The Lifetime Original Movie “ABDUCTED: The Carlina White Story,” starring Aunjanue Ellis (“The Help”), Keke Palmer (“True Jackson,” “VP”), and Emmy® Award-winner Sherri Shepherd (“The View”) is based on a remarkable true story of the kidnapping of Carlina White (Palmer), who was abducted as an infant by Ann Pettway (Ellis) from a New York hospital and solved her own kidnapping and reunited with her biological parents 23 years later. The case is reported to be the first known infant abduction from a New York hospital. On July 30. 2012, Pettway was sentenced in a New York court to 12 years in prison for kidnapping Carlina.
1987- two women are in labor. One in Harlem, New York, and the other in Bridgeport, CT. The baby, Carlina White, in Harlem survives, and the baby is Bridgeport does not. Ann, the mother whose baby died, is admitted into a mental hospital. (It is her third miscarriage.) Meanwhile, Joy and Carl raise Carlina in a loving home.
Ann gets out of the hospital and steals some shoes. Then she impersonates a nurse. Joy and Carl bring Carlina into the ER. Ann takes her opportunity and offers to help watch their baby while Carl goes to work, and Joy takes a quick shower. Ann steals the baby in plain sight and takes her to her judgemental family in Bridgeport. They wonder why she waited for weeks to bring the baby to them.
Joy and Carl cry over the kidnapping and give police a pretty detailed description. They make a statement to the press and then flyer the city with missing signs. The couple eventually split up.
Ann raises the child. But still struggles with drugs, alcohol, and maintaining a steady job. Her sister, Cassandra, helps raise Carlina/Nedra.
Sixteen years later, Carlina is a rambunxious teenager who is also pregnant. Ann throws her daughter a sweet sixteen party and has no idea about her daughter’s pregnancy. When she finds out, Ann is happy about being a grandma.
Meanwhile, a recast (Sherri Shepherd) Joy has a new family and children of her own. She continues to look for Carlina even though her family wants her to stop. Carl also has his own family and is raising teen boys of his own.
When Nedra/Carlina goes to the clinic for her check-up, she is turned away because the birth certificate is forged. Carlina demands to know what is going on. Ann makes up a story about a friend leaving the baby on her doorstep. Carlina believes the lie to keep the peace. She focuses on raising her daughter, and once her kid is grown-ish, Carlina resumes her search. Carlina finds a listing for the missing baby in Harlem online and calls the hotline.
Joy is overwhelmed when an email comes in, saying that her daughter might be alive. Carl and Joy submit to a DNA test. They are all reunited and meet their granddaughter Maya. A large family reunion happens, and they all welcomes Carlina. The family pulls out all the stops, and Carlina sees the life she could have had. Joy is jealous when she hears Carlina call Ava, “her mom.” The DNA results come back, and they are a match.
Ann gets angry and calls Carlina a “crackhead baby,” and she claims to have saved her. Carlina knows that Ann is lying and kicks her out of her house. Ava and Cassandra think Carlina has changed since spending time with her new family. Ann is paranoid after the story about finding Carlina White hits the press and goes missing. Carlina turns her back on Ana and won’t call her “mom” anymore. Ann turns herself into the police and is arrested.
The trial happens, and Ann pleads not guilty. Carlina refuses to testify in court and wants nothing to do with the woman who kidnapped her. She also stops talking to Joy and Carl when they accuse her of being money hungry. Carlina asks Joy why she didn’t look harder for her. Joy sets her straight with a dramatic monologue. Then she gifts her a framed copy of her birth certificate. All is forgiven!!
Joy visits Ann in prison, and her opening line is, “I wish I could just slap that smile from off your face.” (And I wish she would!) Ann doesn’t apologize or have any remorse. Ann even goes as far and asks Joy to thank her for raising her baby. Aunjanue Ellis acts so well in this scene, too bad she is partnered with Sherri Shepherd, who blows the opportunity for a really special moment.
Ann receives 12 years in prison. Joy and Carl are outraged but decide to live with it. Carlina is trying to come to terms with everything. She names herself Netty and visits Ann is jail.
The case is reported to be the first known infant abduction from a New York hospital.
Minority Report: The majority of the cast. Very nice to see so many talented black actors doing their thing.
It should have been a more compelling well. The case itself seemed interesting; the script was a letdown.
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*Photo Credit: © 2020 Lifetime