By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated May 04, 1998 12:00 AM
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In a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction tale, a missing birth certificate became the key in which a child allegedly kidnapped by his adoptive New York parents in 1981 has finally discovered his true natural parents. Matthew Propp, who turned 22 on Thursday, applied to be a policeman in Albuquerque, N.M., but was told that he couldn’t complete the paperwork until he produced his birth certificate. Asking his parents for his document, Propp was told that he was adopted and his adoptive family’s real name was Smiley — and that the Smileys were wanted on charges of kidnapping Matt more than two decades ago. Eventually, reports New York’s Daily News, Matt discovered that his real name was Anthony Joseph Russini Jr. and that his real mother had mistakenly okayed his adoption. And on Thursday, Matt’s adoptive dad, Barry Smiley, 56, alias Bennett Propp, surrendered to authorities in New York. Matt remains in New Mexico with the only mother he has ever known, and has told reporters: “My parents are great people. Until I hear more, I have nothing to say.”