Craig and Candi Lillywhite adopted a precious baby girl in 1994. Just a few days old, she was delivered to them wearing a pretty, new dress. Her head full of dark hair had a tiny white patch of bright blonde on one side. They named her Tosha and took her home to Webster, Texas.
Tosha Ramirez, now 25 years old, recalls growing up in Webster as an amazing experience.
“My parents did everything they could to give us the best life,” Tosha said. “Instead of being on the couch watching TV, we were always outside doing things. I was very active in sports. My parents made sure to make the most of every day. They wanted us to really experience life.”
One way her parents helped Tosha experience life to the fullest was by telling her at an early age about her adoption. They were always open about it.
“My parents made me feel proud that I was adopted,” Tosha said. “You couldn’t make it negative to me. They made sure I understood how chosen I was. They called me their special gift from God. My entire life I was assured that my birth mother loved me, and that what she did was because she loved me. My parents did that for me.”
When she was in junior high, Tosha’s parents showed her the letters her birth mother had written to them when Tosha was a baby. She read the letters repeatedly through the years and felt a strong connection to their author. She knew she wanted to meet her birth mother one day.
As great as life was growing up in Webster, it wasn’t without its challenges. A cancer diagnosis threatened the life of her mother, Candi, in 2002. But even in the midst of this health crisis, Tosha said Candi didn’t skip a beat.
“Mom didn’t let the cancer stop her from doing the things she wanted to do with her children,” Tosha remembered. “She was as active as humanly possible. We traveled and tried all kinds of experiences, even when she was sick.”
During those years, Candi taught Tosha the life skills she would need to live well. She also encouraged Tosha to grow and express herself. After fighting for 11 years through three recurrences, Candi passed away when Tosha was 19 years old.
“To this day, I’m still learning from her,” Tosha said. “She never really held any of us back. She encouraged my brothers and me to do a lot with our lives. Both of my parents were extremely loving and caring. They made my life amazing.”
Like Mother, Like Daughter
Despite the loving guidance of her parents, Tosha rebelled during her later high school years.
“I wasn’t taking any of it seriously,” Tosha said. “I would pass my classes only so I could be on sports teams. Once I eventually stopped sports, I rebelled even more.”
During Tosha’s senior year, she became pregnant with her first son, Jayden. When she told her mom, she said, “Remember what my birth mom did? I did the same thing.” To Tosha’s relief, though her parents were disappointed, they were supportive.
“They never made me feel bad,” Tosha remembered. “They never pushed me away. They were sad about the pregnancy in a way because they knew it would change my life. But they were always there for me.”
With their help, Tosha became more serious about her schoolwork and future. In 2012, Tosha married the baby’s father, Joe. They went on to have a second son, Jordan. But as hard as they tried, they divorced in 2017.
“We tried to make the marriage work, but we weren’t really in love with one another,” Tosha said. “We didn’t have the kind of connection you need to make marriage work. We were a good team, but nothing more.”
Now sharing custody, Tosha happily described Joe as a great dad.
God’s Perfect Timing
Throughout the years of marriage and newborns, Tosha never forgot about her desire to meet her birth mom. Once she turned 18, she was old enough to dig into any records she could find.
“My parents always wanted me to find my birth mom. They supported me and encouraged me in any way they could. They were really incredible.”
Her search came up empty until the day she decided to take a DNA test through Ancestry.com in December 2018. By January 2019, Tosha had received an email with results that changed her life.
A woman had contacted Tosha because their DNA listed them as possible cousins. It wasn’t long before they learned the woman was Tosha’s grandmother. Tosha was thrilled.
“I couldn’t believe this was happening,” Tosha said. “I didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t going to have to look anymore! It was like a weight had been taken off of my shoulders.”
Her grandmother gave Tosha the information she would need to contact her birth father. Once he believed she was who she claimed to be — his daughter — he gave her the information for her birth mother, Paula.
“I was curious about my birth dad, but the person I was most curious about was my birth mom. I just felt like I knew her already from reading her letters.”
That night, after 24 years of wondering and hoping, Tosha contacted Paula. Tosha said Paula was hopeful she would be reunited with her daughter one day. Like Tosha’s birth father, though, Paula needed some kind of proof. Once Tosha read one of the letters Paula had written over 24 years ago, she knew. Something Paula had long prayed for had come true: Her daughter had found her.
After talking for hours, Tosha and Paula planned a visit.
“I just really wanted her to know that my mom and dad are amazing people,” Tosha said. “She did an amazing job placing me in the perfect family. I wanted to thank her for giving me the opportunity to have such an amazing life. I just wanted to thank her for the sacrifice she gave.”
It took decades to find each other, but both women have sensed God’s presence in their lives and in their waiting.
They finally met again Jan. 25, 2019, after 24 years apart. Tosha flew from Texas to Huntsville, Alabama, where Paula lives with her husband and children. The reunion was joyous and full of happy tears.
“It’s as if God was in between us, holding my hand on one side and Paula’s hand on the other,” Tosha explained. “When we were apart, His hands were stretched out wide. And then He pulled His hands back in and brought us together. I feel like I’ve known Paula my whole life. The letters she wrote when I was a baby helped me to know who she was and what she wanted for me.”
The timing of their reunion couldn’t have been better. Tosha said they were able to start off their year together, happy and already comfortable around one another, as if no time has passed at all.
“I found her at just the right time, just when I needed her most,” Tosha said. “I’ve been divorced, I’ve been through a brutal dating relationship, and I’m dealing with the stress of raising two boys. I’ve had a lot of tough times lately, and it’s good to have Paula to help me navigate that. She’ll never replace my mom. No one could ever do that. But she can help me figure out my next steps.”
Sharing Their Stories
Now, they’re making plans to see each other again soon. Paula hopes to travel to Texas to see Tosha’s dad, who has continued to support Tosha through this newfound relationship.
During their first meeting, Tosha told Paula something that had been on her mind for a very long time: She knew she had made the right decision when she placed Tosha in an adoptive home. A decision Tosha agrees with fully. She knows God has a reason for everything.
“I wanted to find Paula a long time ago, but God knew the timing wasn’t right,” Tosha said. “I needed to trust Him and be patient, two things that are very hard for me. But when the time was right, He brought us together. This whole experience has strengthened my faith. Now, I have a testimony about the goodness and perfect timing of God.”
Watch a video detailing Tosha’s search and their amazing reunion here.