Couple reunite with foster daughter after 25 years
By Shelley Smithssmith@salisburypost.com
Twenty years ago in New Rochelle, N.Y., Clement and Mary Radcliff, who now live in Spencer, began a journey that has recently picked up a lot of speed.
They had repeatedly tried to conceive, and had experienced several miscarriages and one still birth. Then an angel came into their lives through Mary’s mother, a foster parent. The two were staying with her when 2-year-old Tamisha arrived.
It was just the right time.
“We were devastated and depressed,” said Mary, who said the still birth came two weeks before her due date, and the nursery was ready to go. “It was just awful.”
“My mother opened her home to foster care, and asked if we wanted to take care of Tamisha.”
“It filled the void after the still born,” said Clement.
“It was like she was God- sent,” said Mary. “The minute we laid eyes on her, she just dazzled us and we fell in love.
“Tamisha needed my care, and I needed her to love and for her to love me. It was a need for the both of us that was fulfilled.”
“We didn’t separate her from family functions, she was just family ó period,” said Clement.
Another miracle happened for the Radcliffs ó they had a daughter, Lachaya, now 27.
“Tamisha remembers us bringing Lachaya home from the hospital,” said Mary. “I used to dress them alike; they were sisters.”
Tamisha also connected with Mary’s sister, Eldora Hays.
Social Services made the Radcliffs aware that the time might come when Tamisha would be adopted.
“They told us we would have first choice to adopt,” said Mary. “When that time came we were financially unstable, and we had to make a decision.”
Tamisha had spent five years with the Radcliffs when she was taken away from them to another family. The Radcliffs thought they would be allowed to have some sort of contact with Tamisha.
“We wanted to let her know she’s still a part of our life and to let her know what happened and why,” said Mary.
“Because of regulations, Social Services likes clean breaks, and we really had no knowledge of where she was going ó in state or out of state,” said Clement.
“We were told to pack her bags,” said Mary. “The caseworker took her out of the house and I could hear her crying and screaming.
“I was told to get back into the house. I stood behind the door and held my hand over my mouth. I knew I might not ever see her again.”
The Radcliffs contacted Social Services to see how Tamisha was doing, and to see if they could get into contact with her.
“They told me, ‘By the request of the adoptive parent, they didn’t want us to have any contact,’ ” said Mary. “I felt like there was a hole in her life that only we could fill because it was left open.”
“When she left that day, that was the last time that we saw her, until this year,” said Clement.
Lachaya contacted We Television’s “The Locator,” hosted by investigator extraordinaire Troy Dunn, who helps people reconnect.
“Last October my daughter started the whole process, and to this day I still don’t know what she said to make our story stand out above thousands of others,” said Clement.
“My daughter and son (Arel, who will be 25 on Sunday) knew I needed closure and knew Tamisha needed closure,” said Mary. “I kept Tamisha’s report cards and photos and talked about her to them. They knew her.”
The Radcliffs were contacted by producers for the show in January. They sent the Radcliffs a video recorder and asked them to film some of their story and send it back.
“Then a month later I’m looking at the caller ID on the phone and it says Los Angeles, California,” said Clement. “The producers said they were going to be in North Carolina, and to meet them in Greensboro at Lachaya’s home. Then we met the crew at the O. Henry Hotel.”
“We were in the dining area at the hotel and the crew was there,” said Mary. “We were like, ‘What’s going on?’
“Troy told us that in the search we could be rejected, and we were hoping she wouldn’t. He told us that some people they can’t find.”
“Then he said, ‘But I can tell you this ó she’s not in New York,” said Clement. “As a matter of fact, she’s in North Carolina, and she’s right behind me.”
“When he said that, I said, ‘I knew it!'” said Clement. “Mary wasn’t too sure, but I knew they weren’t going to fly to North Carolina for any other reason. It was just such a beautiful moment ó 25 years.”
“The first thing Tamisha said was, ‘What did I do wrong?’ ” said Mary. “I just melted. All I could do was apologize at the time, and I explained to her what happened.”
“This was something she was hoping for, too. We were able to reflect, release and now she can understand.”
“The next night we went to dinner, just me and her,” said Clement. “The whole experience was very surreal. I didn’t feel like it was happening at the time.”
Tamisha spent several nights with the Radcliffs and was able to speak to Arel over the phone.
“He told Tamisha that even though he had never met her, he knew her,” said Mary. “She slept in his room while she was here.”
Tamisha also remembered Mary’s sister, Eldora.
“In the beginning, sometimes Tamisha would sleep in the bed with Eldora,” said Mary. “When we reunited, she remembered her, and remembered the Michael Jackson posters and music in Eldora’s room.”
Mary said she speaks with Tamisha frequently and that she is doing very well.
“She told me she was carrying rejection for 25 years,” said Mary. “Now she’s released that and she’s doing well.”
Tamisha now lives in Queens, has a 13-year-old daughter, Jasmine, and is a supervisor at a nursing home. Tamisha and Jasmine were able to visit a Radcliff family reunion over the summer.
“Our family just thinks of them as their own,” said Mary.
The Radcliffs were scheduled to be on “The View” Thursday but got bumped today.
“Tamisha’s birthday is the 21st, and we wanted to help her celebrate while we were in New York,” said Mary. “We have to make up for lost time ó 25 years of it.
“We also wanted to tell her mother thank you and that she did a wonderful job. Tamisha said she had a wonderful life and that put all of our fears to rest; we had concerns for 25 years.
“Tamisha is healing, and she’s forgiven her biological mom. She’s ready to finally move on.”
Clement said feeling of reuniting with Tamisha was hard to put into words.
“You can’t describe it,” he said. “It was like all your emotions altogether, wrapped up into one.”
The Radcliffs said the producers and cast of “The Locator” were very sweet. Once Tamisha appeared in the dining room, Troy Dunn disappeared and was off to the airport to let the Radcliffs reconnect after a 25 year void.
“We both feel so blessed that we were given the opportunity to turn things around for her and for us,” said Mary. “We hoped for it over the years and it finally came through.
“We were driven to find her and explain to her that she was loved, is loved, and will always be loved.”
“Whatever Lachaya wrote, it worked,” said Clement.
Grab the Kleenex and watch the story unfold on Saturday night at 9 p.m. on the We Television network. You can also visit www.wetv.com for a sneak peek into the Radcliffs’ search for Tamisha.