In one of the most amazing child kidnapping cases ever, Rhonda Christie was snatched from her family at the age of 4 – and reunited with her parents 36 YEARS LATER!

Her abductor – a family friend – flatly refused to tell Rhonda anything about her past, leaving her with no birth certificate, no Social Security number and no idea who she was. In short, Rhonda did not officially exist.

“My life was a living hell,” Rhonda told The ENQUIRER. “I lived in cars outside truck stops. No school, moving from motel to motel, enduring beatings and mental abuse.

“But through God’s help, I found my parents after 36 years and now we’ve been reunited. It truly is a miracle.”

Choking back tears, her ecstatic mother Barbara Christie said: “I’m 73, fighting cancer, and suddenly out of the blue my little girl comes back to me. God’s hand is in this – and I’m so very, very happy.”

The incredible story began in 1969 when Rhonda was born to a homeless woman in San Diego. The woman gave Rhonda to her friend Shirley Berthelot, who sometimes worked as a prostitute.

Unable to care for Rhonda, Shirley passed the infant to her friend Barbara Christie. Eventually, Barbara and her husband Bob legally adopted Rhonda and raised her as their own.

“The thing I remember most about those early years was being surrounded by love and having a wonderful clean and orderly house to live in,” said Rhonda, now 40.

Her happy world came to an abrupt end in 1973, when Shirley dropped by for a visit and asked to take Rhonda out for the day. Against their better judgment, the Christies agreed.

“She never came back,” Barbara recalled. “We tried to get help from the police, but they refused to investigate because Shirley was a family friend. So we tried to find our daughter ourselves.”

See more photos and get the full story in this week’s ENQUIRER.