Steven Slinkard of Greenfield had received a photo of his now-23-year-old son Nathan a few days before he arrived at Indianapolis International Airport from Mexico last week.
Slinkard said he was caught off guard at first by Nathan's full head of dark hair.
"It took about 5 seconds. I was like, ah, yeah, I remember that little face," he told the Daily Reporter ( http://bit.ly/Mt6hl8).
Nathan Slinkard was 5, his brother Andrew was 7, and their sister Sydney was 3, when they went missing in October 1995. Authorities say their mother, Trena Slinkard, failed to return the children to their father in Greenfield, about 20 miles east of Indianapolis, despite a court order giving Steven Slinkard full custody in their divorce.
Police searched for the Slinkard children for years. But it wasn't until Nathan Slinkard walked into the United States Consulate in Guadalajara, Mexico, last week and asked to return to the U.S., that Steven Slinkard learned he had not been erased entirely from their lives. He said he found comfort in the fact Nathan was carrying a photo of them together before the 1995 disappearance.
"I thought that they were probably kept away from my pictures, but it doesn't sound like it," Steven Slinkard said.
He said he is being patient through their reunion.
"We've got quite a few years to go through," Slinkard said. "I'm just glad he's home."
Authorities say Nathan Slinkard has assured them that his brother and sister are alive and healthy and know they are free to return to the U.S. Should his daughter and other son decide to return, Slinkard is waiting with open arms.
"That would be great to see everybody, and I hope to someday," he said. "I love them, and I miss them, and I hope that they know I never gave up."
Information from: (Greenfield) Daily Reporter, http://www.greenfieldreporter.com