Man Stolen From His Mother at Birth Finally Meets Her 41 Years Later

Travis Tolliver always knew he was adopted, but it wasn't until recently that he learned the truth of what happen in the hours after he was born. Although he was born healthy, his mother Nelly Reyes was told that he had a heart condition, and ultimately, that he had died. The baby was then adopted by a couple in Tacoma, Washington, who had no idea that their son had been stolen from his mother at birth.

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Tolliver finally got a chance to meet his biological family recently, when he traveled to Santiago, Chile. He had no idea what to expect, and was overwhelmed with emotion when he met his mother, Nelly Reyes, who was waiting for him at the airport with a sign that read, "Lovingly waiting for Travis, your mother Nelly and family."

Travis and Nelly embraced in a long overdue hug, and through tears of joy, he said, "I don't know how I feel. It's crazy! I never thought this could happen."

In her native Spanish, Reyes, 61, said, "I'm going to hug him every day. I love him so much." Despite the language barrier (she doesn't speak English, he doesn't speak Spanish), the two have had a lot of catching up to do.

The story began 41 years ago, when 19-year-old Reyes gave birth to Travis, after an uncomplicated pregnancy. Despite his healthy appearance, she was quickly told by the hospital staff that he had a heart condition, and was unlikely to survive. "Hours later they told me he had died," she lamented, and said that she was never shown a body or even a death certificate.

More from The Stir: Man Who Saved Abandoned Newborn Surprises Her at Her Graduation

Meanwhile, an unsuspecting couple in the U.S. adopted Travis, having been told that he was an abandoned baby. Travis said that he's always had abandonment issues, believing that his biological mother had deserted him without a second thought, maybe even to die.

Tolliver admitted, "You know, I wasn't given up willingly like I thought for all these years, so that makes my heart feel wonderful; but it's just coming to terms with that. This whole thing still seems unreal to me."

Sadly, his case is not unique, especially in Chile. In fact, he decided to search in earnest for his biological family after seeing several news stories about "Children of Silence," babies stolen from their mothers in Chile and adopted out to other families, usually for profit. The circumstances of Tolliver's kidnapping and adoption are unknown at this point.

It was finally confirmed through a DNA test that his mother had been found, and he made arrangements to visit his homeland. Why go to the expense? "To become whole," he said, trying his best not to let the tears spill. "I've always felt incomplete, always kind of the outsider. My adoptive parents have blonde hair blue eyes. I just kind of stood out like a sore thumb."

That doesn't mean he doesn't love his adoptive family. He said of the mother who raised him, "She's always going to be my mom -- it's just that I have two now -- she raised me. I am who I am because of what she did for me. She's always going to have a place in my heart and it's not like I'm replacing her or anything like that."

I can't even image what his adoptive parents must be going through right now. People who open their homes to adoption usually have big hearts -- you have to in order to raise someone else's biological child as your own. Then to find out a lifetime later that your "abandoned" child had actually been stolen? It's absolutely heartbreaking.

It seems like Tolliver has a good head on his shoulders though, and like he said, now he has two wonderful families in his life.

How would you feel if you adopted a baby and later found out he'd been stolen from his mother?

 

Image via Travis Tolliver/Facebook

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