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

Amazing moment son stolen at birth hugs his mother for the first time as they are reunited 42 years after he was taken from a Chilean hospital and adopted by US family

  • Jimmy Thyden was taken from his mother in Chile 42 years ago
  • Hospital workers told Maria Angelica Gonzalez that Jimmy had died
  • He believes he’s a victim of a child trafficking scandal that rocked Chile for decades 

A mother and son were reunited for the first time since he was born, 42 years after hospital worker lied and told her he had died in order to exploit him for a country-wide child-trafficking scandal that rocked Chile for decades. 

Jimmy Thyden, 42, was captured on tape weeping as he embraced his mother, Maria Angelica Gonzalez, during their first ever face-to-face meeting at her home in Valdivia, Chile on August 17.

‘Hola, mama. I love you very much,’ he was heard saying to her through tears. 

His refound family greeted him, and for the first time in decades, he was reunited with his blood relatives, made up of his mother, four brothers and a sister. 

Jimmy, a criminal defense attorney from Ashburn, Virginia, was greeted with 42 balloons, to signify the time he spent separated from his Chilean family: ‘There is an empowerment in popping those balloons, empowerment in being there with your family to take inventory of all that was lost.’  

Jimmy Thyden (pictured, right) hugged his mother for the first time since they were separated following his birth 41 years ago

Maria Angelica Gonzalez (pictured, left) was told by hospital workers that Jimmy had died at birth  

Jimmy shed tears as he hugged his brother Pablo Leiva Gonzalez at their home in Chile

But his brother Jonathan Gonzalez grinned as he reunited with Jimmy, a criminal defense attorney

He was also seen tightly hugging two of his long-lost brothers, Pablo Leiva Gonzalez and Jonathan Gonzalez. 

The attorney, who brought his wife Johannah, and their two daughters, Ebba Joy, 8, left, and Betty Grace, 5, with him, was overwhelmed by the meeting.

‘It knocked the wind out of me. I was suffocated by the gravity of this moment,’ he said in an interview after the meeting.

‘How do you hug someone in a way that makes up for 42 years of hugs?’ 

He recounted the first time he spoke to his long-lost mother: ‘Mijo (son) you have no idea the oceans I’ve cried for you. 

The family greeted him at their home in Chile with 42 balloons, signifying the number of years they were separated

They were reunited thanks to the work of Chilean charity Nos Buscamos

How many nights I’ve laid awake praying that God let me live long enough to learn what happened to you.’

Jimmy and Angelica were reunited decades after they were separated after he began reading news stories of Chilean-born adoptees who were reunited with their birth families. 

He reached out to Chilean non-profit Nos Buscamos, which specialises in investigating family links and reuniting separated family members.

Jimmy was adopted by an American couple, who he says did not know he was the victim of human trafficking

Jimmy only reached out to his long-lost Chilean family after he saw news articles of Chileans being reunited with their own families

Jimmy was prematurely born in a hospital in Chile’s capital, Santiago, 42 years ago

The charity’s sleuths found out that Thyden, a former marine, was prematurely born in a hospital in Chile’s capital, Santiago, and was placed in an incubator. 

His mother was told to leave the hospital, but when she returned for Jimmy, hospital staff lied to her, telling the distraught mother that he had died and that his body had been disposed of, according to the charity’s case file. 

Nos Buscamos believes that Jimmy was one of tens of thousands of victims of child trafficking abuses that took place in the 1970s and 1980s during the reign of fascist dictator General Augusto Pinochet. 

The charity believes that thousands of children were illegally taken from their families and sent across the world to be adopted by wealthy people looking to start a family. 

‘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,’ said Constanza del Rio, founder and director and Nos Buscamos.

Jimmy revealed that his adoptive parents, who declined to be interviewed, were also victims as they did not know that he had been forcibly taken. 

‘My parents wanted a family but they never wanted it like this. Not at the extortion of another, the robbing of another,’ he said. 

He recognised that he was one of the lucky few who got to meet his blood family, and called on governments to recognise and investigate the problem. 

Jimmy ended up meeting with the Chilean ambassador to the US, Juan Gabriel Valdes, to try and get his government to recognise how deep the counterfeit adoption problem was.

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

He said there was no mechanism, financial or otherwise, to assist Chilean adoptees in their efforts to visit their home country. 

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 is going to be, where their citizenship is going to be. They should have access to both. 

‘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 did not respond to a request for comment.

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