Beth Cappadora (Michelle Pfeiffer), a photographer, is married to Pat (Treat Williams), a restaurateur, and they would seem to have a perfect life in Madison, Wisconsin. In 1988, they have three small children that Beth takes along to her high school reunion in Chicago. While checking in at a crowded hotel lobby, her middle child, three-year-old Ben, disappears. Despite a frantic search and much media coverage, the boy is not found, and Beth soon falls apart. Nine years later, the family has only barely recovered when they move to Chicago so Pat can open a restaurant with his father. A few months later, a neighborhood boy named Sam Karras (Ryan Merriman) knocks on the door, asking to mow the lawn. Beth notices the boy's appearance exactly matches a time-elapsed photo of Ben constructed by the police; she takes pictures of the boy and contacts both her husband and police detective Candy Bliss (Whoopi Goldberg). School fingerprints of Ben and Sam match, and the boy is taken to foster care while Candy and Beth confront the father, George (John Kapelos). It seems Ben was abducted by an unbalanced woman who was Beth's high school classmate; the boy was eventually adopted by George when he married "Sam's" new mother, and she later committed suicide, leaving no one to blame. Having grown up happily with George, Sam has no memories of his real parents. Now Beth and Pat must find a way to bond with Sam, and heal older brother Vincent (Jonathan Jackson), who was supposed to be watching Ben at the time he disappeared, and has been suffering from guilt ever since.