I just saw that the show “The Imposter” is airing on CNN tonight so I thought I’d write about it in case anybody else wants to watch it. It was on last week, but mysteriously it was only one hour long and quite obviously ended in the middle of the story. Tonight it is two hours, so hopefully it is the whole story.
“The Imposter” is a documentary, the story of a young man in Spain, who it seems was not having a good life and decided he needed to change it. He placed a call to the police from a phone booth saying he was a tourist and had found a young boy, 14 or 15 years old, who was very scared, and the police should come and get him. He then sat in the phone booth with his hoodie and his hat pulled down low over his face. The police showed up and questioned him, and he was unresponsive so they took him to a children’s home. He was comfortable there, housed, fed and cared for, but remained unresponsive to the point where they said they were going to fingerprint him. Afraid of what they would find, he told them he was American and had been kidnapped. He asked them to give him access to the office at night so he could call his family in the United States.
Instead, he called the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and pretended to be a police officer who had found a missing American child and needed to figure out who he was. NCMEC went through their files and came up with a boy who had been missing from Texas for three years, since the age of 12. They sent a photo by old fashioned fax, a pretty poor black and white image, and he told them yes, that’s it, that’s definitely the boy. The family was contacted and without much thought or delay, the missing boy’s sister hopped on a plan for Spain to get her little brother and bring him home safely.
Meanwhile, the Imposter had seen an actual photo of the missing boy and he realized he would never be able to pass himself off. The missing boy had light blonde hair and blue eyes, while the Imposter had dark hair and brown eyes. Of course his features were not the same, and the Imposter was 23, not 15. He was afraid of the moment when the sister laid eyes on him and said no, that’s not my brother.
That’s not what happened, though. The sister embraced him, told her family, he has grown so much, he is so grown up, but yes it’s him. I’d know that nose anywhere. She took him to the embassy, got him a passport, and took him home to Texas, where the family proceeded to accept him. His sister had shown him family photos so he was able to recognize many family members, and also claimed to have amnesia. He was taken into the family, and that’s as far as I was able to see. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I needed to or wanted to see more, although I probably will tonight.
It all seems pretty incredible, doesn’t it? That a family member would accept a 23-year old with brown hair and brown eyes as her little brother who had been missing only three years, and who had pale blonde hair and blue eyes? Okay, the hair perhaps could be accepted, but the eyes? Yet I kind of recognized this. It is something that has haunted my half remembered dreams, someone who isn’t quite Micheala, but who I try to wishing into being her.
Recently a girl came to my attention, who said she thought she might be Michaela, who others had said was Michaela. One person had even gone so far as to post a photo on a social media site saying “Michaela Garecht has been found! I’m so happy!” He left messages for me, even one that was supposed to be from this girl, saying thank you for never giving up on me.
I had my doubts. I’d had a lot of emails from this guy over the years, and if he really thought Michaela had been found why was he posting about it on a social media website instead of calling the police or sending me another of his emails? But I notified our detectives, and they notified the local PD and an investigation was set into motion.
Then I got a photograph of this girl. Now people send me photographs all the time, or links to facebook or other websites, and all of these are for generically gorgeous girls (often actually “escorts” or porn stars), and not ever have I see a photo that I thought, oh, that could be Michaela. But this girl … well, there was so much of a family resemblance in her that it took me back! She was not the generically gorgeous type. Not made up and coiffed. But the cheek bones, the smile, the teeth, the nose, the eyes … well, she looked to me like a combination of me and Michaela’s oldest brother.
Our police and FBI agents went to visit her, and you will all be happy to know that they went the full mile and took DNA swabs. But she gave them a birthdate of 1992. That, of course, is several years after Michaela was kidnapped, and 13 years younger than Michaela. I don’t think the best brainwashing could have convinced a 15 years old that she was really only 3 years old. So in spite of the striking family resemblance, there was really no way it could be Michaela. Our detective offered to take me to meet her but I declined, and the reason I declined was because I just had a feeling that even though I knew it was impossible, I would want to make it true. I wouldn’t have left a rock unturned perhaps, but we have science. Let science do its work and leave the heart out of it. The heart is too tender, longs too much to find a way to escape the pain.
This is what I recognized in The Imposter. It seems pretty incredible that a family member would actually believe that this 20-something with brown eyes was her blue eyed baby brother. The whole story brings up so many questions, of course, and perhaps they are answered in the part I didn’t see.
I have to say, it is heartbreaking also that there are people whose lives are so bad that they feel a need to be someone else. How many ills in this world would be cured if only we would love our children. How about if we put our needs aside for the needs of someone else? Do you know how much better the world would be if this was the norm? You wouldn’t have to watch out for your own needs and protect your own rights all the time because the rest of the world would be doing it for you, as you were for them! You would feel so secure you would not feel in need, but would feel an abundance that could overflow to others.
There is one thing that can short circuit even the circle created by selfless love, and that is drugs. Drugs can cause you to forget who you are. They use up your resources and leave you in a far worse place then the one you were trying to escape to begin with.
Following is a story about The Imposter. If you are around this evening at 9 p.m. eastern standard time, tune into CNN and watch it.