It’s kind of amazing the ways social media has changed our lives. For California resident Hope Holland, this is especially true; through social media she was able to reconnect with her son, Jonathan, whom she had not seen since he was kidnapped almost two decades ago.
Hope Holland’s youngest son was kidnapped at the age of three.
Jonathan was only three years old when his father kidnapped him in 2000, and for the next fifteen years he would never see his mother. While it would be difficult for Jonathan to grow up without a mother, the kidnapping was especially hard on Holland.
“I know that the only focus I had during those first three years was finding my son,” Holland wrote on her GoFundMe page. “How I went about looking for him is a complete blur, but that was the only thing of importance to me.”
Holland also had another son, Jacob, and although she was distressed about Jonathan’s kidnapping, she did not let those feelings cause her to neglect her responsibilities as a parent.
That did not mean she forgot about Jonathan. Indeed, Holland’s first name “Hope” suited her.
Despite the sorrow she felt, she never gave up hope that she would one day reunite with her son.
Things were quiet for the next several years. She received no news of Jonathan or her ex-husband’s whereabouts until 2006, when the California District Attorney’s Child Abduction Unit managed to find Jonathan and his father.
They were living in San Diego, CA, and the investigator was confident that she would be able to return Jonathan to Holland soon. The next steps would be discussed at their next scheduled meeting on the following Monday. But when she returned, the investigator she had been speaking to disappeared. Worse, the soonest she would be able meet the next investigator would be in three months.
She finally came back for her next scheduled appointment, and the new investigator proposed a new tactic: sending Holland’s ex-husband a letter regarding the investigation.
“I begged him NOT to do that, explaining to him that he would leave the state and go to Mexico if he believed I was searching for him,” Holland wrote on her GoFundMe page.
Her entreaties were ignored, and, without Holland’s consent, the investigator sent the letter. Sure enough, three weeks later, Holland’s ex-husband and Jonathan was nowhere to be found.
“It was like losing my son for the first time, all over again,” Holland wrote on her GoFundMe page.
Holland continued searching as the years went on, but being a single mother meant that free time was hard to find; she had to work as much as she could to take care of Jacob. As time went on, it seemed less and less likely that she would ever see Jonathan again.
The search went cold until a chance encounter on social media helped Holland reconnect with her son.
In January of 2015, Holland had to participate in a training webinar for her job. This webinar was unique in that she had to like the event holder’s Facebook page before she received the code that would allow her to participate.
But after she liked the page, she caught sight of a picture that took her breath away.
It was a picture of two little boys taking a bath together: they were her sons, Jonathan and Jacob.
“Tears uncontrollably fell down my face, my hands were shaking, my body was shaking…Now what?” Holland wrote on her GoFundMe page.
She clicked on the photo, and it took her to her son’s Facebook page. She began downloading all the pictures to her Facebook account, but as she did she saw someone else was liking them.
She got in touch with that person. They knew Jonathan and had even met with him two weeks prior. As they continued chatting, they forwarded Jonathan’s phone number to Holland.
“I decided to wait on calling Jonathan,” Holland wrote on her GoFundMe page. “I was concerned that calling him out of the blue could have negative impacts.”
She asked the person to ask Jonathan if he wanted to speak to her. He agreed, and when they spoke, the connection was undeniable. The two ended up talking for 80 minutes and planned their reunion for July 1st of that year.
After 15 years of separation, the two were finally reunited.
“I’m so happy and it’s a miracle and I never thought this would ever come, so it’s happy–extremely happy,” Holland said according to Time.
The meeting went well. Jonathan even decided that, once he finished high school, he would move to California to live with his mother, and sure enough, a year later he moved in with her.
Their story shows us that no matter how big the world is, technology has a way of making it just a little smaller.