Illegal adoptions in the south: “the political class has its hands deep in it”

Illegal adoptions in the south: “the political class has its hands deep in it”

Source: Cultura Veintiuno

Researcher, author of “An approach to the appropriations of minors and irregular adoptions under the military dictatorship in southern Chile (1978-2016). Memories of Alejandro “, tells how her work was born through the testimony of different mothers, including that of a child of Mapuche origin who was forcibly adopted in Holland by a nun.

SANTIAGO. – Karen Alfaro has a doctorate in Social History and Contemporary Politics, she won a Fondecyt project in 2017 that allowed her to understand what happened that more than 2,000 boys and girls from southern Chile were forcibly adopted and ended up in Europe and the United States during the military dictatorship. Some returned to the country looking for their family; a few raised organizations to make visible this historical debt of the State. Others, meanwhile, could not bear the truth, triggering depression and suicide.

How did institutions operate systematically to execute illegal adoptions to poor families?

Since the military dictatorship begins a process of criminalization of poverty. A process of using state power against poor families begins to disable them from caring for their children. It should be noted that childhood falls under the civil-military administration. The wives of the members of the Governing Board were in charge of all the institutions that had to do with children.

There is a “salvationist discourse of childhood”, just as we save poor children from their destiny and relocate them in a supposed better context.

What does Salvationist discourse mean?

The scheme, private philanthropy and charity, that form of childcare as a grant. The coup installs the privatization of childcare and institutionalization as a mechanism for the transfer of resources from the state to private. A business is born with the care of poor children. So the “salvation discourse” comes from something more ideological, poverty is prone to leftist ideas, Marxism and “anti-values” such as prostitution or alcoholism. So to get a child out of poverty is to save and reverse his destiny.

At that time, the State became a subsidiary …

This in particular operates as violence against the popular sectors. They are left deprived by a state that will not provide social rights.

The way to control that families could (get ahead) without the support of the State was to also reduce the number of children per family, then forced adoptions, sterilization of women and birth control of the population operate; a control apparatus, especially in the popular sectors.

What was the process of extracting minors?

The profile of mothers who are victims of forced adoptions were girls, single mothers and without many family ties.

There were three modalities.

One was that, at the time of delivery, many were medicated. There are testimonies that they lost consciousness and were told that the baby was dead.

The second mechanism was for the support of social workers who worked in day care centers financed by the employment programs of the municipalities, located in private homes. Many children were left behind. The social workers said to the mother: “Hey, since you didn’t come to see your son/daughter on Sunday, they came to pick him/her up from Santiago to be adopted. They took him away and you won’t see him/her again.”

The third mechanism was that the children, when they were in children’s homes, told their mothers that they got sick and transferred them to another place. They did not see them ever again.

What was the common denominator?

That public officials, such as doctors, judges, social workers, religious, midwives, come into contact with these future mothers and begin to pressure them early to give their children up for adoption.

In May, the organization “Desperate Mothers” was created, made up of 19 women who had their children in SENAME homes and now do not know where they are. They accuse illegal adoptions, deception, abuse and obstacles to having custody of their children. Why does this problem continue to transcend?

Because the institutional legacy of the dictatorship in these matters has not been dismantled. The adoption laws have been modified, but the same structure of SENAME continues to function. The foundations that were created in the eighties to benefit from the resources of the State are sustained in a series of political alliances, of the parties of order that have had different governments.

They are foundations that have colleges and institutions collaborating with SENAME. So, in getting involved in changing its institutional framework, it is a scenario in which the political class has its hands stuck to the bottom. On the other hand, the judiciary is not only sexist and patriarchal, but also profoundly classist. It continues to operate with the logic of the minority of childhood and with a class bias to criminalize poor families. Not understanding that in the popular sectors collective breeding or ordering to breed are historical forms. Women are severely punished and the judiciary has a responsibility to maintain Pinochetist biases and paradigms in how to exercise justice in the country.

How does testimony become a form of resistance?

Oral testimony contains another type of truth and, generally, that truth has to do with the oral-popular, with those cultures that are excluded from hegemony and the logic of power. Many of these mothers do not have a document that proves that they had their children, because they had them in a historical moment where registration immediately after birth was not very regular and, furthermore, many mothers in rural areas had their children at home and did not go to hospitals. So the testimony is the only source of many mothers of a truth that has been hidden and silenced by the institutions. That is super powerful, because there have been voices for many decades and even though they had the truth, they were not heard by either the Judiciary or the police.

But as they leave their individual voice and become a public voice of many women, it is transformed into a power that becomes articulated in organizations, such as “Children and Mothers of Silence.” Now they begin to exert a role and pressure to investigate what has happened.

Source: Cultura Veintiuno

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