"I know it's going to take time, so I'm willing to put in that time," Carl Tyson said. "In this relationship, you can't push nothing. There's 23 years I can't get back. Everything has to start from here and work its way."
Tyson said that he and his daughter, who was kidnapped from a New York hospital, text each other every day and talk by phone every few days.
"We text in the morning, say good morning," Tyson said. "Every couple of days, [I say] I want to hear your voice."
Tyson said that his daughter, who currently lives in Atlanta, recently received her birth certificate. He said that his daughter's actual birth name was Carlina Renee Tyson, not Carlina White.
Tyson's description of his relationship with his daughter differed from the relationship Joy White, Carlina's mother, said she had with her daughter on NBC's "Today" show this morning.
Joy White said that she and her daughter rarely talk and are like strangers. Joy White and Carl Tyson are no longer together.
Tyson said like all families, a child has a different relationship with different family members.
"Each family member has a different relationship," Tyson said. "[Carlina] is grown. She's a 23-year-old lady, not a baby. I have to treat her like a young lady ... like a respectful lady."
Tyson said he still talks regularly with Joy White, and that they often checked in with each other to see if either had recently heard from Carlina, who did not respond to requests for an interview.
Ann Pettway, the woman who Carlina White has called mom for most of her life, confessed to kidnapping the child when she surrendered to authorities in January. Pettway remains in custody, and the announcement of whether a grand jury would return a federal kidnapping indictment against her has been deferred for another two weeks.
"I hope she gets 23 years. She took 23 from me," Tyson said.
Carlina White Cracks Own Cold Case
In January, Pettway told officials that she is "truly sorry," according to a criminal complaint.
Pettway told the FBI that she took Carlina, then 19 days old, from Harlem Hospital in 1987. Tyson and White had taken their feverish baby girl to the hospital Aug. 4, 1987.
"Pettway was dealing with the stress of trying to be a mom and had had several miscarriages. She did not believe she would ever be able to be a parent," according to a court document filed by FBI Special Agent Maria Johnson, a member of the FBI's Crimes Against Children Squad, who interviewed Pettway.
Young Carlina was taken to Bridgeport, Conn., and later to Atlanta, where she was given the new name of Nejdra Nance, and was raised by a new family, unaware for 23 years that her biological family lived in New York City.
White told the New York Post that Pettway was an abusive mother who threw shoes and other things at her.
By searching websites for missing children, White ultimately learned she had been kidnapped as a baby.
Searching for her birth year, she spotted a photo of a baby, along with a composite of how the child would look at 19.
The photos looked eerily similar to baby photos she had of herself and her 6-year-old daughter, Samani.
White called the center's hotline and said, "I don't know who I am."
The photo connected her to her mother, Joy White.
"I just always believed that she would find me. That was something that I always believed in myself, you know, that she would come and find me and that's the same way that I thought it would happen," her mother told the New York Post last month.