Moms who are looking for, the Argentine campaign that seeks to reunite mothers and children separated at birth 4:52
(CNN Spanish) ––
(CNN Spanish) ––
Ester and Mónica are some of the many mothers who are looking for the children from whom they were separated at birth.
“He covered my face, he threw me back, he held me by force on the stretcher and when I managed to let go, neither the baby nor the doctor who had treated me was there,” recalls Ester Hublich.
She was running in 1978 and it was the birth of her second child, whom she has been looking for ever since.
“The baby cried, moved, that baby was vital, it was not dead.
And I managed to see that he was a very dark-haired man, my love, and he was crying.
And I always said he was crying because he knew they were going to separate us," says Mónica Ruz between tears, who is now 70 years old and has been looking for her son since 1971. She was told that her son had died after giving birth, but years later. Later he verified, by a family testimony, that he was alive.
The National Commission for the Right to Identity (Conadi), created in 1992 at the request of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo to search for their grandchildren abducted during the last military dictatorship (1976-1983), launched the campaign "Moms who are looking for" that expands its work: now it also summons those who are looking for their relatives and whose cases are not related to that regime to help them restore their identity.
"We were seeing that the theft and trafficking of children, the sale, the dispossession, whatever you want to call it, of the children of the disappeared, as well as the children of poor women, alone and minors, traveled very similar paths," explains Claudia Carlotto, executive director of Conadi.
“We finally achieved a team, structure, resources, and to carry out a campaign like the one we are carrying out now to call on society that any mother who has been removed or separated from her child at birth or shortly after life, can approach us to accompany it and put at the service of these realities all the experience of these 30 years of work for the right to identity of the Conadi ".
This is how they begin to systematize work that until now was often the result of other searches: on the way to finding the grandchildren stolen during the dictatorship, they managed to restore the identity of more than 2,000 people who were not the children of the disappeared, according to what they say.
Moms and sons looking for
Judith Alexandre felt that whoever she claimed to be her mother was not her mother.
Over time she managed to deduce that she was adopted and began to search for her true origins.
“It is a very long search that accompanied me my whole life, because from a very young age I felt that there was something.
My mother was 44 years old when I was born and my father nine more, 53. They had been married for ten years, they were on the legal adoption list, on the waiting list and they thought that they were not going to give them a baby because of their age.
And somehow someone contacted them, told them 'here is the possibility of a newborn baby', they had to put up money, but you have it with papers and everything and that's it.
And that's how they ever bought me and got to me."
Since she was born in 1977, Judith believed that she might be the daughter of the disappeared.
For this reason, in 1997 she had left her blood in the National Genetic Data Bank, which collects information from the relatives of the disappeared.
But he had no results, his case had nothing to do with the kidnappings of the dictatorship.
And his birth mom was alive.
Years later he knew that he was looking for her.
“It had been more than 20 years… with which my expectation that this call would occur, dreamed of, in the first decade of 'we called you to tell you what we found' was already very remote, it was almost impossible.
I had already discarded that expectation, ”explains Judith, but she adds, between laughs:“ And well, they call me from Conadi: We found your mother and your sister, she tells me.
Just as she said, I already began to no longer understand anything in the world ”.
Judith, who by then already had four children, learned that she not only had a mother, but also two sisters.
They all met immediately at the Conadi offices the day after that call.
“Mom's hug to me was very strong.
She looked at me and caressed my hands, the way mothers look at newborns.
That was very, very strong ”, she recalls emotionally while she shows photos with her mother Adriana de ella.
The physical resemblance of both is remarkable and of character, Judith points out, as well.
“When my mother spoke to me, she told me 'daughter, ask me everything you want to know', that this was the opposite of what I had experienced up to that point.
It was 'don't ask me', 'what are you missing, what did I do to you?'.
And from there another chapter begins, my life is transformed.
My foster mother had passed away months before, in November and in August we met again: I did not spend any Mother's Day without a mother (N. de R: in Argentina it is celebrated in October).
She is very crazy, very strong and very cute because I always wanted to find her ”
Mothers, the axis of the campaign
Conadi's campaign is focused mainly on these "Moms who are looking for" mainly because the disproportion is enormous: they have more than 15,000 children searching for their origins, but only 500 mothers trying to find them.
“The boss is young, poor, alone.
Without containment of any social, family or economic nature, that she cannot claim, that she is afraid, that she does not have the possibility of resorting to a lawyer, ”explains Carlotto.
In addition, he adds, many times there are feelings of guilt for having left her children, even though they have been forced to do so.
"I may have made the mistake of falling in love and getting pregnant, but I didn't want them to take my baby away from me," says Mónica, whose family tried to separate her from her boyfriend and take her son from him.
“They told me 'he doesn't love you.
He doesn't look for you, he doesn't call you and we won't be able to raise that baby.
It's a shame for us that you got pregnant,'” she recounts.
“There were clients who had requested a product and a criminal network, in which the State, by action or omission, is a necessary participant, dedicated to stealing babies on demand and trafficking them, right?” Ester maintains.
Ester was told that her son had been stillborn, but was never given any certificate and the doctors claimed that the body had been cremated.
37 years later, after seeing testimonials on television from mothers who had gone through the same situation as hers, she returned to the clinic to try, once again, to confirm that her son had been born dead, but there she found plagued documents of irregularities.
It was then that she began the search for her.
"In the case of these new situations, it is necessary to try to obtain as much information as possible from each of the cases and cross them in a database that is complex and sophisticated because they have to give a "match" and then carry out between those coincidences of that person who is looking for and that mother who also demands a 1 to 1 genetic analysis, to see if they finally found each other or not ”, explains Carlotto.
This work, he maintains, takes a long time and is very difficult, especially because it works on pacts of silence and many lies.
Unlike the search for missing grandchildren, however, these cases have an advantage: they can be resolved with a 1-to-1 mitochondrial DNA analysis of the mother and child.
“The generation of mothers is in this situation.
The grandparentage index requires a huge number of relatives.
There are families that, because the parents were not there and because a grandparent had died, needed between 15 and 20 people to rebuild the disappeared.
A much more complex reconstruction”, explains Carlotto.
“It is very strong to see myself reflected in my mother, that with my foster mother everything was fine.
I loved her, it's not that I didn't want to, but there is something of the reflection of the famous mirror with her that happened to me from the Conadi office, that with my other mother I had never been able to experience it.
And yes, I have seen it in my children”, says Judith, for whom, despite waiting more than 30 years, the story had a happy ending.