NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — After 10 long years of searching, an active-duty Navy sailor found his long-lost family.
Petty Officer Carlo Moore is a father to a 10-year-old girl and a professional boxer. He was raised in Brooklyn, New York and spent most of his life believing that he was raised by his biological mother and grandmother alongside his cousins and uncles.
But at 20-years-old, Moore’s mother revealed to him that she was actually his foster and adoptive mother. He was orphaned shortly after birth.
“My [biological] mother gave birth to me in a hospital in Brooklyn and left me there,” Moore said. “She never came back for me.”
A nurse at the hospital worked with the state to find foster care for Moore. She’s remained close to Carlo since his birth. In fact, he grew up knowing the nurse as his “aunt.”
“She took care of me when I was a baby in the hospital for about two months. She’s the one who got in contact with a social worker to find a family for me. Once I found about my adoption 20 years later, she was the first person I called,” Carlo said.
His aunt helped him discover his first clue about his identity: He was a junior.
“My original name was DeCarlo,” he said. “She told me that my mother kept calling me DeCarlo.”
Moore began working to find out his true identity. The search would last for ten exhausting years. Throughout the process, Moore kept in touch with his aunt. He knew she was the most logical person to cross-reference his findings with.
Along with his identity, Moore’s aunt told him that his mother wasn’t stable enough to be a parent and she was most likely suffering from addiction.
“She was the only one I knew that physically met my mom,” Moore said. “As soon as I found out anything she was the first person I called.”
Each time he thought he was making progress, though, Moore would hit a wall.
“That hurt the most. Every time I thought I was close, I wasn’t,” he said.
Still, Moore refused to give up. He spent years searching, calling his aunt and then searching some more. In 2009, he created an account with an online ancestry service where he manually scanned for clues.
When things got tough, Moore turned to counseling and his training in the ring for relief.
“Once I found out I was adopted that searching feeling would never go away,” he said.
Moore decided to use a sample of his DNA to send to the online ancestry service, but even that seemed to fail. Six months passed and still nothing.
Approaching his 30th birthday, Moore decided he was going to give up the search. He felt that he knew enough at this point: His name, that his biological mother was unwell and that his adoptive mother loved him.
Moore said he thought at the time, “I’m going to turn 30 and put it behind me. I haven’t heard anything, so I’m just going to let it go.”
Two days later, Moore got a message from the ancestry site. He found a distant relative — a third or fourth cousin. Moore thought it was unlikely she would know much, but he engaged her anyway.
“She was so far down the line from the family line, she wouldn’t know anything about what I was looking for – which is information about my mother and father,” he said.
Moore’s cousin kept in contact and was able to provide a lead some six months later.
“She put me in contact with this other lady. We were away from home, we were out in El Centro doing some training and I got a message from her. She’s my aunt. My mouth dropped to the floor,” he said. “She knew everything about my mom, how she passed away and everything.”
Moore found out that both his parents had passed away. He also confirmed his father’s identity and found out he had other siblings.
“They told me I had a brother,” he said.
Moore’s biological brother responded the very next day.
“They’ve been looking for my mother’s last three kids for the past 30 years.”
From his brother, Moore discovered several siblings all at once.
“We’re all spread out through the foster system and everybody’s name is changed,” he said. “It made it harder to track down this person and that person because whatever family you got adopted to, that’s the last name you took on.”
In just a matter of days and with the help of his brother and his aunts, Moore was able to discover his mother’s burial location. Without hesitation, Moore drove from Hampton Roads to New Jersey over the weekend of Dec. 10 and met with his “aunt.”
“I got to go to her grave and say some words and leave a flower on her grave to try and close that chapter in my life,” he said.
Moore credits his command at the time, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 9, with support and helping him process everything.
“When I found out about my biological parents, I mentally and physically wanted to break down. My chain of command was critical,” he said. “I couldn’t have made it through 2016 at all if it weren’t for them. They allowed me time to cope with it.”
Moore is now working to move on and focus on his upcoming fight.
“I’m not looking for anything or trying to create a new family or anything like that. That chapter of searching is closed,” he said. “Healing is next, honestly. Boxing has always been my alcohol, my drug, my you name it – it’s been my way out for everything. Mad, happy, sad, depressed, boxing has always been my go-to.”
While Moore is repairing emotionally, he must also focus on preparing his body for his upcoming fight.
Moore is an Aviation Machinist’s Mate 1st Class, currently assigned to the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit Norfolk. With the blessing of HSC-9, he transitioned to professional boxing in 2013. He had previously boxed in the Golden Gloves and for the Navy Boxing Team. Moore has won two titles as an all Navy National Champion as well as winning the 2009 Golden Gloves and placing second in 2013.
Moore has been training twice a day for an upcoming match on May 13 at the Masonic Temple in Norfolk.
It’s clear, though, that his dedication to country and fellow service members comes first.
“I want to share my story for the junior Sailors out there who are struggling,” he said. “If they know that there are other people out there who have struggled too, people who can be a positive role model and someone to look to for help – that’s what it’s all about for me.”
Petty Officer First Class Christopher Lindahl, Commander of Naval Air Force Atlantic Public Affairs, contributed to this story.