WASHINGTON: “Hola, Mama.”
What looks as if an unremarkable greeting between mom and son was on this case something however.
Forty-two years in the past, hospital staff took Maria Angelica Gonzalez’ son from her arms proper after start and later instructed her he had died. Now, she was assembly him face-to-face at her dwelling in Valdivia, Chile.
“I love you very much,” Jimmy Lippert Thyden instructed his mom in Spanish as they embraced amid tears.
“It knocked the wind out of me. … I was suffocated by the gravity of this moment,” Thyden instructed The Related Press in a video name after the reunion. “How do you hug someone in a way that makes up for 42 years of hugs?”
His journey to search out the start household he by no means knew started in April after he learn information tales about Chilean-born adoptees who had been reunited with their start relations with the assistance of a Chilean nonprofit Nos Buscamos.
The group discovered that Thyden had been born prematurely at a hospital in Santiago, Chile’s capital, and positioned in an incubator. Gonzalez was instructed to depart the hospital, however when she returned to get her child, she was instructed he had died and his physique had been disposed of, based on the case file, which Thyden summarized to the AP.
“The paperwork I have for my adoption tells me I have no living relatives. And I learned in the last few months that I have a mama and I have four brothers and a sister,” Thyden mentioned within the interview from Ashburn, Virginia, the place he works as a legal protection lawyer representing “people who look like me” who can’t afford a lawyer.
He mentioned his was a case of “counterfeit adoption.”
Nos Buscamos estimates tens of 1000’s of infants have been taken from Chilean households within the Seventies and Eighties, based mostly on a report from the Investigations Police of Chile which reviewed the paper passports of Chilean youngsters who left the nation and by no means got here again.
“The real story was these kids were stolen from poor families, poor women that didn’t know. They didn’t know how to defend themselves,” mentioned Constanza del Rio, founder and director and Nos Buscamos.
The kid-trafficking coincided with many different human rights violations that occurred through the 17-year reign of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who on Sept. 11, 1973, led a Chilean coup to overthrow Marxist President Salvador Allende. Throughout the dictatorship, at the least 3,095 folks have been killed, based on authorities figures, and tens of 1000’s extra have been tortured or jailed for political causes.
Over the previous 9 years, Nos Buscamos has orchestrated greater than 450 reunions between adoptees and their start households, del Rio mentioned.
Different nonprofit organizations are doing comparable work, together with Hijos y Madres del Silencio in Chile and Connecting Roots in america.
Nos Buscamos has been partnering for 2 years with family tree platform MyHeritage, which offers free at-home DNA testing kits for distribution to Chilean adoptees and suspected victims of kid trafficking in Chile.
Thyden’s DNA take a look at confirmed that he was 100% Chilean and matched him to a primary cousin who additionally makes use of the MyHeritage platform.
Thyden despatched the cousin his adoption papers, which included an deal with for his start mom and a quite common title in Chile: Maria Angelica Gonzalez.
It seems his cousin had a Maria Angelica Gonzalez on their mom’s facet and helped him make the connection.
However Gonzalez would not take his telephone calls till he texted her a photograph of his spouse and daughters.
“Then just the dam broke,” mentioned Thyden, who despatched extra images of the American household who adopted him, his time within the U.S. Marines, his wedding ceremony, and lots of different memorable life moments.
“I was trying to bookend 42 years of a life taken from her. Taken from us both,” he mentioned.
He traveled to Chile together with his spouse, Johannah, and their two daughters, Ebba Pleasure, 8, and Betty Grace, 5, to fulfill his newly found household.
Getting into his mom’s dwelling, Thyden was greeted with 42 colourful balloons, every one signifying a yr of misplaced time together with his Chilean household.
“There is an empowerment in popping those balloons, empowerment in being there with your family to take inventory of all that was lost,” he mentioned.
Thyden remembers his start mom’s response to listening to from him: “Mijo (son) you have no idea the oceans I’ve cried for you. How many nights I’ve laid awake praying that God let me live long enough to learn what happened to you.”
Gonzalez declined to be interviewed for this story.
Thyden, alongside together with his spouse and daughters visited the Santiago zoo the place his American household first took him after the adoption. This time their tour information was his organic sister.
Again at Gonzalez’ dwelling, Thyden realized that he and his mom share a love of cooking.
“My hands are in the same dough as my mama,” he mentioned as they made fried empanadas collectively. He pledged to maintain utilizing the household recipe to remain linked together with his household and his tradition.
Thyden mentioned his adoptive dad and mom are supportive of his journey to reunite together with his misplaced relations, however have been “unwitting victims” of a far-reaching unlawful adoption community and are wrestling with the realities of the scenario.
“My parents wanted a family but they never wanted it like this,” he mentioned. “Not at the extortion of another, the robbing of another.”
By a spokesperson, his dad and mom declined remark.
Whereas Thyden was efficiently reunited together with his start household, he acknowledges that reunification may not go as effectively for different adoptees.
“It could have been a much worse story,” he mentioned. “There are people who find out some really unfortunate details about their origin.”
Whereas in Chile, Thyden and del Rio met with one in all seven investigators working to handle 1000’s of counterfeit adoption circumstances like his personal.
“We don’t want money, we just want the human recognition that this horrible thing happened in Chile and the compromise that this is not going to continue happening in the future,” del Rio mentioned. “We are trying to make a difference. Not only with Jimmy and his family but we want to do it, the change, in the country.”
Thyden additionally met with Juan Gabriel Valdes, the Chilean ambassador to america, to hunt authorities recognition of the pervasiveness of the adoption scheme.
He mentioned there was no mechanism, monetary or in any other case, to help Chilean adoptees of their efforts to go to their dwelling nation. He mentioned he bought a truck to pay for his household’s airplane tickets and different bills.
“People need to be able to decide … what their name is going to be, where their citizenship is going to be. They should have access to both,” he mentioned. “They should have all the rights and privileges of a Chilean citizen because this is a thing that happened to them, not that they chose.”
The Chilean Embassy in Washington didn’t return a request for remark.