Son stolen at birth hugs Chilean mother for the first time in 42 years

“Hola Mama.”

What seems like a common greeting between mother and son, in this case it is not.

Forty-two years ago, hospital workers took María Angélica González’s son from her arms immediately after he was born and later told her that he had died. She would now meet him face to face at his home in Valdivia, Chile.

“I love you so much,” Jimmy Lippert Thyden told his mother in Spanish as they tearfully embraced.

“It took my breath away. … I felt suffocated by the gravity of this moment,” Thyden told The Associated Press in a video call after the meeting. “How do you hug someone in a way that makes up for 42 years of hugging?”

Her journey to find the birth family she never knew began in April after reading news about Chilean-born adoptees reunited with their birth relatives with the help of Nos Buscamos, a Chilean non-profit organization.

Jimmy Thyden, right, hugs María Angélica González, his Chilean biological mother, as they meet for the first time in Valdivia, Chile, on August 17, 2023.Jimmy Thyden, right, hugs María Angélica González, his Chilean biological mother, as they meet for the first time in Valdivia, Chile, on August 17, 2023.AP

The organization discovered that Thyden had been born prematurely in a hospital in Santiago, the capital of Chile, and had been placed in an incubator.

Gonzalez was told to leave the hospital, but when she returned to pick up her baby, she was told she had died and her body had been disposed of, according to the case file, which Thyden summarized for the AP.

“In the procedures that I have for my adoption, it tells me that I have no living relatives. And in the last few months I found out that I have a mom and four brothers and a sister,” Thyden said in the interview from Ashburn, Virginia, where he works as a criminal defense attorney representing “people who look like me” who can’t afford to pay. a lawyer.

Jimmy Thyden, right, sits with María Angélica González, his Chilean biological mother, when they meet for the first time in Valdivia, Chile, on August 17, 2023.Jimmy Thyden, right, sits with María Angélica González, his Chilean birth mother, as they meet for the first time in Valdivia, Chile, on Aug. 17, 2023.AP

He said his was a “falsified adoption” case.

Nos Buscamos estimates that tens of thousands of babies were taken from Chilean families in the 1970s and 1980s, based on a report by the Chilean Investigative Police that reviewed the paper passports of Chilean children who left the country and never returned.

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“The real story was that these children were stolen from poor families, poor women who didn’t know it. They didn’t know how to defend themselves,” said Constanza del Río, founder and director of Nos Buscamos.

This undated photo provided by Jimmy Thyden shows Thyden as a child with Rusty the cat. This undated photo provided by Jimmy Thyden shows Thyden as a child with Rusty the cat. PA

Child trafficking coincided with many other human rights violations that took place during the 17-year reign of General Augusto Pinochet, who on September 11, 1973 led a coup in Chile to overthrow Marxist President Salvador Allende.

During the dictatorship, at least 3,095 people were killed, according to government figures, and tens of thousands more were tortured or imprisoned for political reasons.

In the past nine years, Nos Buscamos has orchestrated more than 450 meetings between adoptees and their birth families, del Río said.

Jimmy Thyden, right, hugs his brother Pablo Leiva González as María Angélica González, his Chilean biological mother, left, looks on in Valdivia, Chile, on August 17, 2023.Jimmy Thyden, right, hugs his brother Pablo Leiva González as María Angélica González, his Chilean biological mother, left, looks on in Valdivia, Chile, on August 17, 2023.AP

Other nonprofit organizations are doing similar work, including Hijos y Madres del Silencio in Chile and Connecting Roots in the United States.

Nos Buscamos has partnered for two years with genealogy platform MyHeritage, which provides free at-home DNA test kits for distribution to Chilean adoptees and suspected victims of child trafficking in Chile.

Thyden’s DNA test confirmed that he was 100% Chilean and matched him with a first cousin who also uses the MyHeritage platform.

This undated photo provided by Jimmy Thyden shows Thyden as a child. This undated photo provided by Jimmy Thyden shows Thyden as a child. PA

Thyden sent the cousin his adoption papers, which included his biological mother’s address and a very common name in Chile: María Angélica González.

It turns out that his cousin had María Angélica González on her mother’s side and helped him make the connection.

But González did not return his phone calls until he sent him a text message with a photo of his wife and daughters.

Jimmy Thyden, left, holds hands with María Angélica González, his Chilean biological mother, as they meet in Valdivia, Chile, on August 17, 2023. Jimmy Thyden, left, holds hands with María Angélica González, his Chilean biological mother, as they meet in Valdivia, Chile, on August 17, 2023. AP

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“Then the dam just broke,” said Thyden, who sent in more photos of the American family that adopted him, his time in the US Marine Corps, their wedding and many other memorable moments in life.

“He was trying to finish off 42 years of a life that was taken from him. They took it from both of us,” she said.

He traveled to Chile with his wife, Johannah, and their two daughters, Ebba Joy, 8, and Betty Grace, 5, to meet their newfound family.

Jimmy Thyden poses for a photo with his wife Johannah and their two daughters, Ebba Joy, 8, left, and Betty Grace, 5, center, at the airport in Valdivia, Chile. Jimmy Thyden poses for a photo with his wife Johannah and their two daughters, Ebba Joy, 8, left, and Betty Grace, 5, center, at the airport in Valdivia, Chile. PA

Upon entering his mother’s house, Thyden was greeted with 42 colored balloons, each one representing a year of lost time with his Chilean family.

“There is an empowerment in popping those balloons, an empowerment in being there with your family to take inventory of all that was lost,” she said.

Thyden remembers his biological mother’s response to learning about him: “Mijo (son), you have no idea the oceans I have cried for you. How many nights have I spent awake praying that God would allow me to live long enough to know what happened to you?

Jimmy Thyden, second from right, sits with his wife, Johannah Thyden, right, his biological mother María Angélica González, second from left, and his brother Jonathan González in Valdivia, Chile.Jimmy Thyden, second from right, sits with his wife, Johannah Thyden, right, his biological mother María Angélica González, second from left, his brother Jonathan González in Valdivia, Chile.AP

González declined to be interviewed for this story.

Thyden, along with his wife and daughters, visited the Santiago Zoo where his American family took him for the first time after adoption.

This time his tour guide was his biological sister.

Jimmy Thyden, left, meets his brother Jonathan González for the first time in Valdivia, Chile, on August 17, 2023. Jimmy Thyden, left, meets his brother Jonathan González for the first time in Valdivia, Chile, on August 17, 2023. AP

Back at the González house, Thyden realized that he and his mother share a love of cooking.

“I have my hands in the same dough as my mom,” he said as they made fried empanadas together. He vowed to continue using the family recipe to stay connected to his family and his culture.

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Thyden said her adoptive parents support her journey to reunite with her lost relatives, but they were “unwitting victims” of a far-reaching illegal adoption ring and are struggling with the reality of the situation.

“My parents wanted a family but they never wanted it like this,” she said. “Not for extortion of another, nor for robbery of another.”

Through a spokesperson, her parents declined to comment.

While Thyden was successfully reunited with his birth family, he acknowledges that reunification might not be so good for other adoptees.

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“It could have been a much worse story,” he said. “There are people who discover really unfortunate details about their origin.”

While in Chile, Thyden and del Río met with one of seven investigators working to tackle thousands of falsified adoption cases like theirs.

“We don’t want money, we just want human recognition that this horrible thing happened in Chile and the commitment that this will not continue to happen in the future,” del Río said. “We are trying to make a difference. Not only with Jimmy and his family, but we want to make it, the change, in the country”.

Thyden also met with Juan Gabriel Valdés, the Chilean ambassador to the United States, to seek government recognition of the pervasiveness of the adoption plan.

He said there was no mechanism, financial or otherwise, to help Chilean adoptees in their efforts to visit their country of origin.

He said he sold a truck to pay for his family’s plane tickets and other expenses.

“People need to be able to decide… what their name will be, where their citizenship will be. They should have access to both,” she stated. “They should have all the rights and privileges of a Chilean citizen because this is something that happened to them, not that they chose it.”

The Chilean Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.

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Source: vtt.edu.vn

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