At the age of eight hours old, Kamiyah Mobley was taken from her 16-year-old mother’s arms. She was literally stolen out of a Jacksonville, Florida hospital by kidnapper Gloria Williams. She was raised as Gloria’s daughter, Alexis Manigo, and for all intents and purposes — based on interviews she gave — Alexis had a good life. She has two older brothers and was the “little princess” of the family.
Fast forward 18 years, and the truth is made public. Alexis is really Kamiyah and she is reunited with her birth parents. A happy ending like in the fairy tales, right? Well not quite. After being “found,” Kamiyah easily bonds with her birth father. But she struggles to have a new and bonding relationship with her birth mother. Especially because she still loves (yes, she knows what Gloria Williams did was wrong) and considers Gloria to be her “mom.”
Kamiyah’s story made headline news when her true identity was first revealed in January 2017. Her story took on an even more fascinating tone when, for the premiere episode of Iyanla Vanzant’s Fix My Life, Kamiyah and her birth father appeared as participants on the show. Her birth mother, who initially contacted the show, subsequently decided not to appear.
There is one point in the show where Iyanla tells the birth father that she wants to push the daughter to get at the emotions that are simmering beneath the surface. Kamiyah has done a stellar job of talking and making it appear that she has processed the entire debacle with ease. But while saying she has everything under control, her body language gives a completely different message. At one point, Iyanla puts Kamiyah in a white room surrounded by white bedding as her “cocoon” so she can be reborn, the premise being that she can choose which name she truly wants to be. Is she Kamiyah, the fairy tale person her parents have dreamed about who has been missing for the past 18 years? Or is she really Alexis, the girl who was raised, loved and nurtured by Gloria, even if under false pretenses?
Kamiyah didn’t like the idea of having to spend the night and not be able to reach out to her dad, so she went off. The promo for Iyanla’s show contained a snippet of Kamiyah cussing out Iyanla with such vulgarness and viciousness that the desire to watch the entire episode to understand was a “no-brainer.” After watching the entire episode, one has to wonder just how much help had truly been afforded this child prior to Iyanla’s intervention. It’s obvious that she needs help to process the life changes that have occurred to her at such a young age.
In many ways, Kamiyah/Alexis struggles with what she ought to feel about her kidnapper and her actual feelings about her kidnapper are the emotional undercurrents seething just beneath her surface. Hers is a fascinating look at someone who had known for over a year and a half, prior to the police confirming it, that she had been taken from her birth parents and yet she went along with the deception. The deception didn’t come to light because Kamiyah told authorities, but rather because someone else who knew the truth called in and told the truth.
It is obvious based on other videos and reports that the entire family needs to go into some sort of emotional therapy. Her biological parents appear ill-equipped to deal with the emotional turmoil that is happening for her. The episode is available for free on YouTube by searching for both Iyanla and Kamiyah’s names.