Advertisement

Siblings Stolen at Birth in Chile — and Adopted by Same Virginia Family — Meet Biological Mom

“I knew this is what I was waiting for all my life," Emily Ours Reid tells PEOPLE about finally meeting her birth mother

<p>Simon Bucher</p> Brother and sister Sean Ours (L) and Emily Ours Reid (R) reunite with their long-lost biological mother Sara (C) in Chile in February 2024

Simon Bucher

Brother and sister Sean Ours (L) and Emily Ours Reid (R) reunite with their long-lost biological mother Sara (C) in Chile in February 2024
  • Sean Ours, 40, and Emily Ours Reid, 39, were illegally adopted as newborns in the 1980s, while their biological mother was told they had died in childbirth

  • Connecting Roots, a nonprofit group, was able to help track down their biological mother and confirm via DNA testing that all three were related

  • “It's amazing that we were able to go through this experience together," Emily tells PEOPLE

As babies in Chile during the early 1980s, siblings Sean Ours and Emily Ours Reid were adopted by a loving American couple and raised in Alexandria, Virginia, where they led normal childhoods. However, as it turned out, there was way more to the story.

Growing up, as far as they and their adoptive family knew, their biological mother gave them up because she wanted a better life for her children. However, decades later they learned that the brother and sister — who were born about a year apart — were stolen at birth as part of an illegal adoption scheme.

In November, with the help of a nonprofit group, Sean and Emily finally met their biological mother Sara for the first time via a Zoom call; three months later, the trio reunited in Chile.

“It's pretty incredible,” Emily, 39, a caterer in Raleigh, North Carolina, tells PEOPLE. “It's amazing that we were able to go through this experience together.”

<p>Adam Reid</p> Emily Ours Reid and Sean Ours hugging their biological mother Sara in Chile

Adam Reid

Emily Ours Reid and Sean Ours hugging their biological mother Sara in Chile

As children, Emily and Sean, 40, say their adoptive parents were forthcoming about their Chilean roots.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

And in high school, when they wanted to find out about their birth family, their adoptive mother hired a private detective. But nothing substantial came out of those efforts.

“It was tough to handle,” Sean — now a sporting goods employee and a married father of two — recalls, “because it seemed like that piece of us would always be lost.”

<p>Courtesy of the Ours Family</p> Emily and Sean Ours as toddlers

Courtesy of the Ours Family

Emily and Sean Ours as toddlers

But everything changed last summer, when Sean and Emily's adoptive mother told them that she had been reading about illegal adoptions in Chile that occurred under the dictatorship of President Augusto Pinochet from 1974 to 1990.

“A lot of the cases were from the Seventies through the mid-Eighties,” Emily says, “so there's a lot of indicators that led her to believe that we are part of this.”

Wanting more guidance, their adoptive mother decided to contact the nonprofit organization Connecting Roots, which reunites Chilean adoptees with their biological families.

Related: Couple Who Adopted and Then Got Pregnant Bring Home Triplets from NICU: 'So Blessed'

<p>Courtesy of the Ours Family</p> Emily and Sean Ours as children

Courtesy of the Ours Family

Emily and Sean Ours as children

According to founder Tyler Graf, a Houston-based firefighter (who, like Emily and Sean, was stolen at birth in Chile) under Pinochet’s regime, mothers were told that their children had either died at birth or were born premature and later died as a way to control Chile’s poor and indigenous population.

“During the dictatorship, you did not ask any questions,” he tells PEOPLE. “What was said was the given truth. So these children were taken and then placed into a government orphanage until adopted out.”

What was unique about Sean and Emily’s case, says Graf, is that they were both adopted by the same American family. “The same social worker that was involved in the adoption agency somehow had access to both of the mother's children," Graf adds. "The fact that they were able to take two children from the same mother is just barbaric.”

Related: Woman Finds Biological Mom 50 Years After Being Placed for Adoption

Graf received Emily and Sean’s adoption paperwork after the two siblings gave Connecting Roots their consent to find their birth mother. The organization was able to track down Sara.

Speaking to PEOPLE through translator Nicolás Fuentes, Sara says she couldn't "believe it" when she learned that her two children were alive and living in America. When her DNA results came in that October, the emotional news they knew in their hearts to be true was confirmed.

"We knew that she was our birth mother based on many physical characteristics, but the DNA doesn’t lie," Emily says, as Sean adds that he was filled with "joy and relief."

<p>Simon Bucher</p> Sean Ours and Emily Ours Reid finally meet their long-lost biological mother Sara in Chile in February 2024

Simon Bucher

Sean Ours and Emily Ours Reid finally meet their long-lost biological mother Sara in Chile in February 2024

Seeing each other for the first time over Zoom was "all sorts of emotional," Emily says.

“We were just stuck in the moment,” shares Sean, “the realization that we actually can see our mother in person. I know we were all crying at some point just because of how happy we were to see each other live and in person. It was just an amazing feeling.”

And in February, the joy was "overwhelming" when Emily, Sean and other Chilean-born American adoptees reunited with their biological families at the Santiago airport.

"I knew this is what I was waiting for all my life,” Emily says. “She thought we were dead. She never got to hold us, and so this was our first true time holding each other. It was so momentous."

<p>Adam Reid</p> Emily Ours Reid and her biological mother Sara cooking in the kitchen in Chile

Adam Reid

Emily Ours Reid and her biological mother Sara cooking in the kitchen in Chile

Related: Walmart Employee and Bus Driver Has Fostered 55 Kids — and Adopted 2: 'This Is My Calling' (Exclusive)

<p>Adam Reid</p> Siblings Emily Ours Reid and Sean Ours with their mother Sara and stepfather in Chile

Adam Reid

Siblings Emily Ours Reid and Sean Ours with their mother Sara and stepfather in Chile

For Sean and Emily, the experience was more than what they could ever imagine, and Emily says she wants to go back to Chile.

“The Connecting Roots team hands down had done a tremendous job with getting everything organized. Everyone keeps saying it's a once-in-a-lifetime trip, but it's not," she says. "This is just the beginning of a new chapter of life."

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.