'You always wonder if there's more to your story, like an iceberg,' the 43-year-old said.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on November 21, 2022. It has since been updated.
Seven months after her birth in Chile, Sara Rosenblatt, now 43 and a mother of two, was adopted by a Jewish family living close to Washington, D.C. Although she was aware she had family in Chile, including a sister, Rosenblatt grew up believing she had been voluntarily given up for adoption. "I remember at [a] very young age already having questions for my family, mostly my mother," Rosenblatt expressed her confusion as a child to PEOPLE. "She was the person that I always went to." Growing up, Rosenblatt added, she was aware it would require "some extra understanding when it came to my identity," since she realized that didn't look like the rest of her adopted family.
Some 20,000 children were adopted by foreign couples during the Pinochet era— Debbie (@Seahag127) February 4, 2022
Chile's Court of Appeals says at least 8,000 of those are suspicious cases
Almost 200 mothers have been reunited with their children https://t.co/2XZ48x72DC
Finally, in 2022, Rosenblatt's brother thought some questions might be answered after he saw and forwarded a story about Chilean newborns who had been taken from their parents shortly after birth. The discovery gave her renewed hope that all her questions about her identity might be answered. "You always wonder if there's more to your story, like an iceberg," Rosenblatt said. "There's surface information, but you always wonder if there's more."
The North Carolina native soon made contact with a nonprofit organization in Chile and Tyler Graf, a Texan firefighter who started the organization Connecting Roots. Graf's story is extremely moving too. Minutes after his mother gave birth to him, she was told the baby didn't survive. Unbeknownst to his biological family, he was adopted by an unaware American family.
Earlier in 2022, with Graf's assistance and a DNA kit from MyHeritage, Rosenblatt's parentage was traced back to Chile where she found both her biological mother and sister. In fact, when Rosenblatt met Rosa, her Chilean biological sister in May, she could feel that the connection was instant. "Looking at each other, we were like, 'This is definitely my sister!'" she revealed.
Rosenblatt and Graf were among the 8,000 to 20,000 children who were reportedly taken from their impoverished mothers in Chile and adopted illegally by families in North America, Europe and beyond. This policy was illegally implemented by General Augusto Pinochet's regime in the 1970s and 1980s in an effort to fight poverty. Graf started Connecting Roots because he was aware that there were other Chilean adoptees in his age group who might have suffered the same tragedy. His goal is to spread the word about the 1980s trafficking policy. He hopes that with the support of his loved ones and friends, the organization's goal of bringing together as many Chilean families as possible will be realized.
For Rosenblatt, reuniting with her biological family has had a profound impact on her life. "I realized when I was an adult and a mother that I covered up a lot of wounds that I probably should have explored more," she said, adding that she has been through extensive therapy both as a child and an adult, looking for ways to heal herself. "It's been really validating to go through this process, though. It's a process that I have to go through, but I'm not alone in it."
At 2 months old, Maria Diemar was flown to Sweden to be adopted. Years later, she tracked down her birth mother, who said her baby had been taken against her will. Investigations show that she was one of thousands stolen from their parents. https://t.co/ms92dw6Ekw— Benjamin Alvarez (@BenjAlvarez1) January 26, 2021