A Christmas Miracle: The Gift of a Mother After 54 Years

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Arverne resident, Theresa Racine, has a lot to celebrate this Christmas after receiving one of the most wonderful gifts of all—a mother.

Racine was about five years old when she found out she was adopted and the desire to learn about her past began early on. “All kids should know who they are and where they came from. I spent so much time passing people on the street and wondering, is that my mother? Is that my brother? Is that my sister?” Racine said.

Racine’s adoption story was never easy. After being passed through six homes before officially being adopted, Racine faced many years of abuse by her adoptive mother, to the point that she ran away from home at an early age, before moving back in with her adoptive father. However, that missing piece of a loving mother remained. “I felt in my heart that I needed closure,” she said.

At age 20, she began to search. “I went to an adoption agency and they wanted to search, but there was a $300 fee to uncover information from the closed adoption. I had no money,” she said. What Racine was able to receive was “noninformation,” which amounted to learning that she had siblings, and why her mother gave her up as a baby. “I was satisfied because I found out my mother had wanted me. It was her circumstances at the time that made her give me up,” Racine said. However, the search provided no further information—no names or any other clue as to who her mother was.

It was only about three months ago, at age 54, that she would try again, after learning that there were changes in adoption information laws in Connecticut, where she was born. She began her search again but was immediately met with the roadblock of the search fee—now $350. “I thought in that moment, that was it,” Racine said. However, hope came. She learned of the Adoption Assistance Program in Farmington, CT and they provided the funding she needed to begin her search. But it was never easy. At first, they couldn’t find her records, but soon the pieces fell together. An obituary of her mother’s brother led to the information she needed, and a letter was sent to the family.

“They have to decide if they want to meet you or not. You could go through that whole process and have it end badly. Rejection would’ve hit me hard. I was taking a big gamble,” Racine said.

However, a Thanksgiving blessing was at work when that letter showed up at a home in Chicopee, MA.  “The day before Thanksgiving, we received a certified letter in the mail. At first, I thought I didn’t pay a bill,” Kim Taliceo said. Little did she know it was a letter saying the sister she knew existed, but had never met, was trying to reach out. “I started to cry, and I had to wait like two hours before telling my mother because I was afraid she’d have a heart attack if I told her so early,” Taliceo, who serves as her mother’s caretaker said. Taliceo eventually handed the letter to her mother, Dorothy Benoit. “I thought it was amazing. I was excited and nervous. My whole body shook. I didn’t know what to make of it when I first found out that my daughter was trying to get in touch with me, but then I realized this was a miracle,” Benoit said.

The family opted to let communication begin. “I think I started crying. There are no words to describe what I felt,” Racine said about learning that her mother was open to communicating.

On December 5, Racine spoke to her mother on the phone for the very first time. Rather than bringing up the past, Racine took a different approach. “My goal was to bring joy, happiness and love into it,” she said. “Had I done this at 20 years old, when I wasn’t in a good place, this might not have turned out so well.” Her call to her mother was returned with that same joy and love, and a plan was set in motion for Racine to meet her 86-year-old mother, at 54 years old.

On December 11, with her pastor as her driver, Racine made the trip to Chicopee, on a journey to her past. “After talking to my mom several times on the phone, I thought it would be easy, that it was going to be like I knew them all my life. I felt relief, joy and peace the whole trip,” Racine said. And when she finally met her mother—it was just that. “I just looked into her eyes and I knew that was my mom,” Racine said. And Dorothy knew too. “It was like having that something that was missing from me all of these years,” Benoit said. “All she kept saying was, ‘my daughter, it’s been too long. I should’ve met you earlier,’” Racine recalled.

The reason why they hadn’t was due to misinformation. “My mother had told me about Theresa, but she was told that she was adopted by a doctor and his wife and she didn’t want to interrupt that family, figuring she had a good life,” Taliceo said. So they left it alone, not knowing the reality of Theresa’s abusive situation.

However, upon meeting after 54 years, the whys and thens were not as important as the here and now. Racine made the best of her time with her newly-found mother, and her new siblings as well—her older brother, Joey and her older sisters, Nina and Kim.

Before they departed, Benoit left Racine with something to hold onto until they meet again—a classic teddy bear and a card addressed to “My Christmas Miracle,” that reads, “The teddy bear I was never able to give you when you were born. Now, when you hold him tight, you will know I’ve always loved my little daughter that I wanted to hold so tight. Love you always, your mom.”

For Benoit, who faces some health issues, reuniting with Theresa is not just a Christmas miracle, but a gift that will keep on giving. “Theresa gave our mom the gift of living,” Taliceo said.

For Racine, it is a happy end to a long journey. “I’ve always had this hope of finding this puzzle piece that wasn’t there. I always felt like something was missing. Now I feel there’s nothing missing. I feel complete. I have closure,” Racine said. “I have this whole new family and I’m not going to feel alone.”

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