An adopted man stolen from Chile as a baby is now on a journey to connect with his biological mother and extended family. Tyler Graf was put up for adoption as part of a government-sanctioned plot there and was raised by a loving family in the U.S.
Tyler Graf works as a Texas Fire Fighter today, he says that the birth of his first child inspired him to search for the biological family he never met. “I was adopted by a very loving, caring family,” Graf, 38, told ABC news. “I think it was just knowing that my story did start before I was adopted.”
He added, “So, it’s kind of like missing the first five minutes of the movie,” he said. During his journey, he was contacted by Hijos y Madres del Silencio, a group in Chile that supports the victims of illegal adoptions and child trafficking there, according to a GoFundMe page.
Tyler Graf was informed by the group that he had been kidnapped at the time of his birth in Temuco, Chile, and “illegally handed to an American family without their knowledge of that,” he wrote. He underwent a DNA test that proved he had his biological family in Chile.
Sadly, 30 years ago, Tyler Graf’s mother had been told that her son, named Sergio, passed away after she had given birth to him. She was not allowed to even see his body. “I can’t imagine what my birth mother went through when she lost me and grieved my death,” Graf said.
A report published by the BBC about thousands of babies who were stolen in the regime of Gen. Augusto Pinochet during the 1980s and were sent to developed countries for adoption revealed some startling information.
The erstwhile Chilean government had one aim: eradicating extreme poverty in the country by removing babies and infants of poor families in the country. It was possible with the cooperation of the government, hospitals, lawyers, and international adoption agencies.
When Graf was confirmed that he had a biological family of his mother and three sisters in Chile, he decided to meet them. “At the beginning, it was complicated,” one of his sisters said. “Then it became enjoyment, I love his laughter and his smile.”
Tyler Graf’s birth mother Hilda Quezada Godoy, said, “I wanted to scream,” she said in the interview. “I questioned a lot of things,” she said. “The thought of if he was loved if he ate well if he spent time cold.”
When a journalist arranged for a meeting between them, it was an emotional moment for the mother and son who met more than 30 years later.
“It was the closest hug,” Graf said. “They just left us alone in each other’s arms and we hugged and she kissed me and we just stood there crying.”
Heartwarming footage of Graf’s recent trip to Chile to meet Hilda and his sisters show the family spending time fishing and bonding together at last. “I do not want to hurt my adoptive parents’ feelings or my birth mothers’ feelings, so it is kind of a fine balance right now,” he said. “I’m trying to figure where I fit in the middle of all this.”