After 42 years of separation, a mother meets her long-lost son. Cue the happy tears.
Mother’s Day may have been a little over two weeks ago, but for son Travis Tolliver and mother Nelly Rayes, the celebration is from now until the end of time. After all, they have some catching up to do — over four decades’ worth.
In 1973, Travis was stolen as a baby from the hospital in Chile just hours after his birth. The nurse told Nelly that Travis was born with a heart condition and was unlikely to survive. Nelly, now 61, explained to CNN that she was told he had died hours later, and though she begged to be shown his body or given a death certificate, doctors never complied.
Travis, pictured below, is likely one of the “Children of Silence” in Chile — babies who are stolen and sold, or even given away by their grandparents “who conspired with doctors, priests and nuns to hide a daughter’s socially embarrassing pregnancy,” according to CNN.
It’s not clear what happened in Travis’ case, exactly. However, his adoptive parents in Washington were told that Travis was an abandoned baby, and he grew up believing that he wasn’t wanted. But when Travis saw several news stories about children stolen in Chile, he knew he needed answers — and he got them through DNA testing which matched him with his mother Nelly.
“You know, I wasn’t given up willingly like I thought for all these years, so that makes my heart feel wonderful,” Travis explained to CNN, “but it’s just coming to terms with that. This whole thing still seems unreal to me.”
After finding out the truth about his adoption and his mother, Travis raised $1200 through GoFundMe and other measures to go see his mother in Chile. Just days ago, he was able to make his dream of meeting his biological family come true. Nelly, pictured below, stood waiting for Travis at the Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport in Santiago, accompanied by two of her grandchildren, holding a sign she had made that said: “Lovingly waiting for Travis, your mother Nelly and family.”
Though Travis doesn’t know Spanish and Nelly doesn’t know English, their mother-son bond prevailed as they embraced and held each other in the middle of the airport, tears streaming down both of their faces (our hearts BURSTING). “I’m going to hug him every day,” Nelly told CNN in Spanish. “I love him so much.”
Travis has now been spending time in Chile traveling his homeland, meeting his brothers and sisters, and, of course, getting to know his mother. Though the language barrier keeps them from speaking, she has been cooking him meals every day and showing him her love which she has had to hold back for the past 42 years.
Why was it so important for Travis to meet his biological mother? “To become whole,” an emotional Travis explained to CNN. “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.” He also now has two little girls who he wanted to be able to provide answers to about the roots.
Luckily, this entire reunion was captured on camera. Keep a box of tissues handy and watch below. Congratulations, Travis and Nelly, on your many happy years ahead.