"We've had this picture with us for 36 years. We've always wondered what had happened to you," the birth parents said.
After learning they had been stolen from their mother in infancy, twins Elan and Micah Nardi have been reunited with their family. The brothers were taken away from their mother, who had brought them to the hospital in Santiago, Chile, in 1986 along with an older sister who was ill, when they were just 3 months old. Elan tells PEOPLE that a hospital employee offered to watch the infants while she attended to her other child. "Later, when she tried to find where they were caring for us, they slammed the door in her face," Elan recalled. When their mom called the police, by the time assistance came, the children disappeared.
Two of Elan and Micah's biological siblings made an emotional appearance on a Chilean TV show six years after the boys were removed from their mother and cried for their little brothers. "Our mom would go to news stations to tell the story of our disappearance and try to find us," says Elan. "They were searching from the moment we disappeared. They always held us in their thoughts."
The parents in Massachusetts who adopted Elan and Micah, who are now 36, were simply informed that their mother had wanted them to have a better life. The twins were aware of their Chilean heritage, but they didn't delve deeper into it until their adoptive mother saw a news article in December about Tyler Graf, a Texas fireman, and other Chilean children who had been abducted.
She was disturbed by this news and told her sons, "There's so many similarities. We have to investigate." The twins were able to locate their original family with the aid of Graf's NGO Connecting Roots, the nonprofit Nos Buscamos in Chile, and the family history service MyHeritage, which performed DNA testing that proved the match.
The twins initially communicated with their birth parents through Zoom a short while afterward. According to Micah, they had a picture of the boys when they were just a few months old. "They said, 'We'd never forgotten you. We've had this picture with us for 36 years. We've always wondered what had happened to you,'" Micah said. "Just the genuine emotion and reaction that they had made me have no doubt that what they were saying was sincere."
The twins first encountered their biological family when they went to Chile in June. In order to assist the long-lost relatives to communicate better, Connecting Roots has given Elan and Micah subscriptions to the language-learning software Babbel. "Our goal is to eventually be fluent in Spanish, but it's still a pretty beginner level," says Micah. The twins hope that by sharing their story, other Chilean adoptees will become motivated to delve deeper into their own pasts.
In reality, the twins were two of an estimated 8,000 to 20,000 children who were illegally adopted by families in North America, Europe, and other countries from mostly poor mothers in Chile during the 1970s and 1980s. This policy was implemented by the regime of Gen. Augusto Pinochet in an effort to combat poverty.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images/ FG Trade Latin