Travis Tolliver was separated from his now 61-year-old mother, Nelly Reyes, at birth.
Reyes said that she did not receive a death certificate for Tolliver, nor did she see his body. For four decades, Reyes thought that her child was dead, when he was in fact abducted and put up for adoption.
No one is sure who took Tolliver from that hospital in Chile, but he was eventually adopted by a couple in Tacoma, Washington in the United States. Tolliver’s adopted parents had been told he was abandoned.
People reported that Tolliver is one of the “Children of Silence” – possibly thousands of infants who were illegally put up for adoption in Chile during a dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s.
At 40 years old, Tolliver decided to find his birth family.
When Tolliver was in his 20s, he had tried searching for his mother, but failed. After learning later about the “Children of Silence,” Tolliver began to use the internet to look for his mother again. He told CNN he had to look for his mother for the sake of his conscience and his two children.
Tolliver then found a Facebook page called Chile Adoption Birth Family Search and provided them with all the information that he could on his adoption—and they were able to find his mother.
The two reunited at the International Airport in Santiago, Chile.
After meeting Tolliver for the first time, Reyes says “I am going to hug him every day.”
Tolliver only speaks English, and Reyes only speaks Spanish, but luckily love is universal.
“I love him so much,” Reyes told CNN.
Tolliver feels better after knowing that he was not abandoned. He told People, “I wasn’t given up willingly like I thought for all these years, so that makes my heart feel wonderful.”
Tolliver is working with authorities to figure out what happened to him after his birth.