JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The sentencing of a woman who kidnapped Shanara Mobley's newborn from a Florida hospital and raised the child as her own should have brought closure to a two-decade-long nightmare.
But Mobley says there has been no storybook ending, and she expects to spend her first child's birthday July 10 just as she has for the last 20 years — alone with her heartache, far away from her daughter.
Gloria Williams was given an 18-year sentence last month for the kidnapping of Kamiyah Mobley from a hospital in Jacksonville in July 1998.
The 52-year-old Williams testified that she wore scrubs to look like a nurse, put the infant in a bag and secreted her out of the hospital. She said she was in an abusive relationship at the time and suffering from depression.
Williams raised Kamiyah Mobley — who grew up as Alexis Manigo — in Walterboro, South Carolina, until her arrest in 2017. The girl did not learn her true identity until she discovered she could not get a driver's license without a valid birth certificate or Social Security card.
After finding out her true identity, Mobley told a friend about it. Eventually, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received an anonymous tip about Kamiyah's whereabouts, and Williams was arrested.
When Mobley learned her daughter was alive, on Jan. 13, 2017, she likened the joy to giving birth all over again. "It was one of the happiest days of my life," Mobley said in an interview with The Florida Times-Union.
Mobley then learned that her daughter did not immediately alert authorities when she found out she was the child who had been abducted from Jacksonville. She said she was willing to look past that disappointment and expected her daughter to want to be a part of Mobley's life.
"We were going to be this big, happy family," she said.
But Mother's Day came and went without recognition from her daughter. They currently do not speak, Mobley said, hurt that her daughter had said she hoped Williams would not receive a long prison sentence.
"I don't deal with disrespect," Mobley said through tears. "I wish they never would have found her."
Mobley said she had been so eager to become a mother when her first daughter was born. It stung to be considered a suspect during the investigation into the baby's disappearance.
"Everybody was saying I sold the baby, I gave the baby away," she said. "Come on now, if I thought it was going to be this hard, I could have got an abortion. I could still be running the streets. I could have been doing drugs, drinking, all that. I chose to do right: to have a beautiful baby."
Sitting at her kitchen table late last month, Mobley said she was feeling an unbearable weight of stress and depression. She worried about the impact on her other five children, who range in age from 3 years old to 15.
"I'm still lost," Mobley said. "What did I gain? Nothing."
Mobley had this to say to the daughter she lost and then found: "If you want to be Alexis, be Alexis. If you want to be her child, be her child. This is a battle that I can't keep fighting. This is a battle that nobody is going to win."
Information from: The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union, http://www.jacksonville.com