Lucila Jensen was born but did not grow up in Chile. As a 4-year-old, she was adopted and has been told all her childhood that she had been opted out of her mother. But when she, as an adult, began examining her adoption papers, they told a completely different story.
Now I have finally returned home, Lucila Jensen exclaimed, as she trampled Chilean soil for the first time in 36 years and without a single Spanish word.
She had given herself a vacation to Santiago as her 40th birthday present – a wish she had longed for all her childhood.
For Lucila was born in Chile. As a 4-year-old, she was admitted to an orphanage for malnutrition, but instead of returning to her mother’s home, she ended up in an orphanage, where she was soon kidnapped and abducted.
A Swedish woman who was married to a member of the Chilean junta was behind the organized kidnapping, and after a while Lucila ended up in Sweden – bought by a Danish adoptive family living in Stockholm. Here she was named Nina.
It became the beginning of a nightmare for the little girl whose upbringing was characterized by abuse and violence.
– I called my adoptive father the General because he was so evil and tough. Every day I was told that I should be grateful that they had bought me, recalls the now 48-year-old Lucila and describes how she was locked in her room if she did not obey. She was cut short-haired as a boy and had to walk in her one-year-old adopted brother’s clothes at school, where she, as the black-haired, stood out among the other children. Here she was often told that she was unwelcome and completely wrong.
Her adoptive parents gave neither love, care nor hug, and her birthdays passed in silence. Lucila clearly remembers once, she broke her thumb.
–They scolded me instead of comforting me because I had ruined their planning. They were supposed to play golf and have been with their friends, and now I ruined it by breaking my finger.
Lucila shakes her head from her early memories.
For childhood, the fairytale is reminiscent of the fairy tale Cinderella, where Lucila was also treated like a poor child in a rich home where she had to clean, wash clothes and serve when the family had guests. At school she had a really hard time, and when she reached her teens, she started cutting herself and experimenting with alcohol and drugs.
As a 16-year-old, she reported her adoptive parents to the authorities and moved in with a good foster family, and she had a strong desire to return to Chile and seek her roots.
It rejected the adoptive parents on the grounds that her biological mother would have nothing to do with her. The mother had opted her out. Therefore, it would be best if Lucila forgot all about her.
Thoughts on Chile
Lucila therefore had to grow up before she could access her adoption documents and be able to read what was said.
The documents made her suspicious because they contained names of people who could not be traced, and it was clear that the adoption process had not taken place right after the book.
When she brought up the subject to her adoptive parents, they became angry and threatened to make her hereditary. They wanted to cut all ties, which is why Lucila left it.
She had neither the strength nor the surplus to go against them, and she now also had her two children to take into account.
But the thought of Chile nagged her for years to come. She felt lonely and empty inside, and sometimes she resorted to alcohol and drugs to forget it all.
But when she turned 40, she decided to give herself a special gift anyway: a vacation to Chile’s capital Santiago.
Felt at home
On February 16, 2010, she flew from Sweden to South America – excited about what awaited her 36 years after.
When she landed, she felt at home for the same second. Here everyone looked like her, and Lucila spent hours just wandering the streets watching people.
– I reminded them, and sometimes I couldn’t help but wonder if it was a family member who had just passed me, recalls Lucila, who managed to put on two pairs of shoes before the holiday was over.
A year later, she returned and this time she was targeted. Now she would find her family. She contacted a TV station and met a journalist who became interested in her fate. Together they began searching for information and found the orphanage where she was taken from.
– But the staff at the orphanage encouraged me to leave the past and focus on the future. I told them that I had traveled all the way from Sweden to get an answer and I would not give up now, Lucila states.
The journalist soon found documents revealing that Lucila’s grandmother had placed her and her brother at the orphanage.
Lucila’s mother had been beaten by her husband and mother-in-law, and when the man left Lucila’s mother, she had difficulty managing herself and the two young children. It had caused the grandmother to take over – which was not very successful.
– My grandmother was not a good person. She forced my mother to leave us, and she never learned what happened to us, says Lucila.
Lovely big family
For her, it is a great sadness that she will never get to meet her mother as she was already dead when Lucila started looking for her.
– I wish I had traveled to Chile before, so I had met my mother. It would have meant everything to me to hear her say that she loved me and that I had never been deselected. I think that would have meant something to her too, says Lucila.
But in the midst of grief over the mother’s death is also the joy of having met her siblings.
For Lucila found his big brother, who has always thought of where his sister had gotten off. It was an emotional moment when the two finally met after all those years.
– I thought right away that we were very similar. We also have the same crazy mind, she laughs, and says that at the first meeting they stood and held each other for a long time.
Finally – after half a life – brother and sister were reunited.
They immediately went home to the brother’s family, and later she also met her younger brother and two little sisters.
Today, she is happy to have found her family in Chile and they are seen at least once a year. At the little brother who lives in southern Chile, a room is always ready for her, and this summer he visited Sweden so Lucila could show him where she has lived her life.
– My Chilean family has welcomed me with open arms and treats me like the family member I am. We have so much love to give each other and this is the first time in my life that I am experiencing it. The feeling of emptiness and loneliness that has always followed me is completely gone now.