Now the criticism is growing among adoptees from Chile. Tommy Leite is one of those who sees himself as a victim of human trafficking after SVT’s and Chilean journalists’ review. He demands that those responsible be held accountable and now plans to initiate a legal process.
We meet Tommy Leite at his adoptive parents’ home in an apartment in central Malmö. He, like many others, has been involved in the review that journalists from the Chilean TV channel Chilevision have done together with SVT.
The review shows that several – an unknown number – of the more than 2,000 children adopted from Chile in the 70s and 80s may be victims of human trafficking.
Tommy was adopted from Chile in 1978 when he was 17 months old. According to the story in the adoption documents, his mother herself decided to adopt him out because she was not able to take care of him.
That story has turned out to be largely made up, at least according to the biological mother herself that Tommy has recently come in contact with.
I am a victim of kidnapping, that’s how I see it after hearing the truth, says Tommy Leite.
Tommy first got in touch with his biological sister last fall. This was followed by a turbulent time.
My sister told me that my mother was deeply depressed and that she never got over the fact that I disappeared. I approached her and there were many emotions that overflowed when we talked to each other over Skype.
Traveled to Chile
Tommy traveled to Chile this Christmas and then got to meet Marisol, as his mother is called, as well as his sister and her children.
We sat for several days and just talked and talked. I got answers to so many questions I had always asked myself, I recognized sides of myself in her.
One thing that has taken a toll is that Tommy thinks he could have had a good life in Chile as well.
I have always thought that I would have ended up on the street as homeless if I had not been adopted. In fact, my mother has struggled incredibly much to give my siblings a good life, which they have also had, they have studied at university and everything. I think I too would have had a normally functioning life in Chile.
According to Tommy’s mother, it was social workers connected to the Swedish Adoption Center who stole him. His mother was ill and had a difficult time temporarily. She was offered temporary help.
They said that I would be allowed to live in an orphanage for a while, then she would pick me up.
But the very night Tommy’s mother left Tommy, she got a bad feeling. The next day she is said to have gone back to the social worker and said she wanted Tommy back.
But then I was gone. She was given all sorts of explanations and in the end they told me that I was adopted. But they never said I was in Sweden.
European Court of Justice
Tommy’s mother, like several other mothers, says they never wrote any papers. Instead, the adoption documents must have been forged. He now feels a great deal of frustration and he demands that those responsible be held accountable.
We are several in the same situation who are now planning a process. We are investigating which way we should go. Other adoptees have tried to pursue a legal process here, but as any crimes are often statute-barred, it has not led anywhere. We may try to go directly to the European Court of Justice.
According to Tommy, there are several culprits. On the one hand, he believes that the Adoption Center bears a heavy responsibility as it is they who have mediated the adoptions.
But also MFOF, the authority whose task is to monitor that adoptions go right. They also have a responsibility, as do Swedish authorities in general who have not ensured that the children’s background has been properly investigated.
The director-general of MFOF says that they have now contacted the Chilean authorities to get more information.
The adoption center has told SVT that it believes that everything has been handled according to the laws and regulations that applied in Chile during the current period.
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