Baby stolen by Argentina’s junta finds family 40 years on
A woman who was taken from her mother as a baby by Argentina’s former military regime has been reunited with her relatives 40 years on.
Adriana, who is not revealing her surname, discovered the real story of her earliest days after the woman she had thought was her mother died this year. It was revealed that her biological parents were among the thousands of Argentinians who “disappeared” during the country’s military rule.
After her mother’s death, a family friend told Adriana that she had been adopted. She began to investigate whether she was the child of one of the “disappeared” but initial searches proved fruitless.
“I began to think I had been abandoned, given away, sold, that my parents hadn’t wanted me”, she said.
Her case was taken on by the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a campaign group that has helped to reunite more than 100 children with their biological families.
Eventually, after a DNA test, the truth emerged. She is the daughter of Violeta Ortolani, who was born in Uruguay, and Edgardo Garnier, an Argentinian. Both were engineering students and left-wing activists in the city of La Plata. Ms Ortolani was arrested in December 1976 when she was heavily pregnant. She was 21. She gave birth in custody in January 1977.
The following month Mr Garnier, 23, was detained when he was making inquiries as to the whereabouts of his wife and child. The couple were never seen again.
At a news conference in Buenos Aires, Adriana, holding hands with her newly discovered aunt and surrounded by friends of her disappeared parents, said: “Love has defeated hate.”
She is the 126th child to have been identified by the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo group. Estela de Carlotto, president of the association, spent 36 years searching for her own grandson, eventually meeting him in 2014. Her pregnant daughter, Laura, had disappeared in 1977.
During Argentina’s “Dirty War”, which lasted from 1974 to 1983, babies born to captured leftists were given to military families in a scheme that was designed by its perpetrators to prevent a new generation of “subversives”. An estimated 500 children were illegally adopted and their true identities hidden by the authorities. Advances in genetic testing have helped to reunite many of the babies with their relatives.
Adriana began to suspect when she was a teenager that she had been adopted as her “mother” had no photographs of her pregnancy and refused to answer questions about giving birth.
She said she feels some anger towards her adoptive parents “but they suffered too”.
She said she was comforted by the fact that despite her earlier doubts she now knows that she was a baby “very much wanted” by her parents.