The film is loosely based on the case of 11-year-old Etan Patz, who disappeared in NYC on May 25, 1979 while walking two blocks to catch his school bus. As of June 2012, Patz, who was declared legally dead in 2001, has not been found.
The film was originally called "Still Missing" which was the same name as the movie's source novel but this title was changed by the 20th Century-Fox studio in order to avoid confusion with the critically acclaimed Cannes winning picture Missing (1982).
The film and its source book were based on the case of the disappearance of a young New York boy, Etan Kalil Patz, who went missing in New York 's Lower Manhattan on 25th May 1979. Patz was the first ever missing child to be advertised on a milk carton. The case initiated the missing children's movement, new legislation and new methods for locating missing children.
Prior to writing the film's source "Still Missing" novel, its author Beth Gutcheon spent a considerable amount of time doing research. This including compiling masses of newspaper accounts about missing children and reading copious volumes of police texts and crime victim sociological studies.
Actress Kate Nelligan once said of her character in this film that it was "all the things that actors want to find on their doorstep. Susan is an emotionally and morally gifted woman with an abundance of dignity and intelligence".
Producer-director Stanley R. Jaffe said of this film's story: "First, it moved me and secondly, it had to do with the frailty of the relationships between adults and what I consider our most important asset, our children".
This movie has one of the early bit parts of William H. Macy. He is credited as one of the reporters, and is seen just after the bathtub scene with Kate Nelligan ends. In the next scene she is leaving her apartment and a crowd of reporters and police are outside. Macy is standing on the sidewalk facing the street speaking into a camera. As Nelligan walks around and enters the car, he is seen running around the back of the car.
This movie was made and released about two years after its source novel "Still Missing" by Beth Gutcheon was first published in 1981. Gutcheon also wrote the screenplay, to date her only ever cinema movie adaption of one of her novels. Reportedly, Gutcheon kept the film adaptation relatively faithful to her book.