Chile: 20,000 minors were irregularly adopted during the Pinochet regime

Jimmy Lippert-Thyden and María Angélica González, his biological mother. Photo: We are looking for each other (NGO).

The 50 years of the 1973 civilian military coup that overthrew the government of Chilean socialist President Salvador Allende, and the atrocities committed since then in the country during the 17 years of dictatorship, have also served to recall the abduction of children through irregular adoption to remember that happened at that time.

In 2019, an investigative commission of the Chamber of Deputies published an extensive report that concluded that around 20,000 Chilean children were adopted by families of foreigners throughout General Augusto Pinochet’s regime.

This was the culmination of a judicial investigation that began in 2018, in which Judge Mario Carroza of the Santiago Court of Appeal uncovered the first 500 cases. At the end of the year, the Chilean justice system estimated that there were 7,500 adoptions by 1990 that may have been illegal.

The boys and girls who suffered this fate were usually babies whose mothers were born in very precarious social circumstances and with very little education and whose little ones were taken away through deception, for example by being told , they were stillborn.

Others came from wealthy families, but were the result of unwanted pregnancies that they gave up to hide the fact and supposedly protect their reputations.

Although it is among the darkest events in Chile in these almost two decades, it is among the events that have been least socialized, perhaps because the magnitude of the events involved very different authorities: judges, immigration officials, notaries, priests, nuns and so on government agencies, this report says.

The boys and girls ended up in countries such as the United States, Germany, France, Holland, Italy and Sweden. Only very few of these minors, who are no longer minors but adults, know their true origins; but others do.

The most recent case reported in Chile occurred on August 22, 2023 and concerns Jimmy Lippert-Thyden, a criminal lawyer from Ashburn, Virginia (USA), who was able to meet his biological mother that day: María Angélica González, resident of the city of Valdivia , 800 kilometers south of Santiago.

When she gave birth to him in a hospital in the Chilean capital in October 1980, she was told that the baby should remain in the incubator because he was premature, which she readily believed. But when she returned to pick up her son, they lied to her that he was dead and that they had disposed of the body, preventing her from seeing him.

In statements to international media, Jimmy Lippert-Thyden said that he always knew he was adopted, that his parents did not hide it from him and that he grew up in a home full of love. “What I and my adoptive parents didn’t know is that it was a false adoption,” he added.

Regarding the reasons why he was extradited by his biological mother, he explained that there were three versions; The first said she had not discharged him from the hospital; the second, that he was voluntarily given up two years after his birth, and the third, that he had died during childbirth.

(Taken from La Jornada)