She Was Told Her Babies Were Dead. Instead They Were Sold Abroad. What Happened When She Met Them 40 Years On?

Naomi Larsson Piñeda - The Guardian

Four families torn apart by Chile’s illegal adoption scandal finally found each other decades later. They describe the emotional moment they met – and how they pieced together the lives they had spent apart.

For Sara Melgarejo, the wait at Santiago airport was agonising. The 65-year-old had travelled about 30km north from San Bernardo, a working-class suburb of the Chilean capital, for the reunion. She walked the length of the building trying to calm her nerves, holding her breath for the arrival of the two children she had spent the last 40 years believing were dead. “My heart was racing and my body was trembling,” she says, “but I felt pure joy.”

Siblings Sean Ours, 40, and Emily Reid, 39, walked into arrivals together, having arrived on a flight from the US. Even though they had never met Sara in person, there was no question that she was their biological mother – they share the same eyes, the same infectious smile.

“When I saw her there waiting for us, all pretty in pink, I started crying. I just gave her the biggest hug because it was the first time that we were able to feel her, to tell her that we loved her,” Emily says.

“To be able to just hold her, and for all of us to hold each other together, was so surreal. It was a long time coming,” Sean says.

Their story is just one of tens of thousands relating to Chilean families torn apart by illegal adoption. Parents were typically told that their babies were lost or dead. In reality, they had been stolen and sold, facilitated by a network of social workers, faith officials and health and legal professionals across the country.