DNA test helps U.S. man, stolen at birth, reunite with mother in Chile after 42 years

General Augusto Pinochet’s 17-year reign of terror resulted in tens of thousands of Chileans killed, tortured, and imprisoned—and an estimated 20,000 newborns were stolen and put up for adoption abroad. Pinochet was deposed in 1990, but the thousands of families whose babies were illegally taken still feel the pain. To help them and their missing children find answers, the Chilean nonprofit group Nos Buscamos has partnered with online genealogy platform MyHeritage to provide free at-home DNA testing kits for Chilean adoptees and victims of child trafficking. The effort is paying off: One American man has been given his birthright back. In late summer 2023, Nos Buscamos helped Jimmy Lippert Thyden locate his biological mother in Chile after 42 years. Thyden’s DNA test matched him to a first cousin who connected him with his birth mother, Maria Angelica Gonzalez. Thyden soon traveled to Chile with his family to meet her. The NGO has orchestrated over 450 such reunions between adoptees and their birth families in the last decade.

Brazilian government signs deal with Meta to track down missing children

Digital powerhouse Meta has joined forces with Brazil’s Ministry of Justice and Public Security to help locate missing children and adolescents up to age 18. In an agreement signed on the International Day of Missing Persons this past August, two of Meta’s platforms—Facebook and Instagram—have begun issuing emergency alerts for Brazil’s missing children. Emily Vacher, Meta’s Global Director of Responsibility and Safety, says the technology has been used in 30 countries since 1990 and resulted in locating more than 1,200 children. Meta hopes to expand the program to other platforms, including WhatsApp and Threads.

American Samoa and Guam delegates propose legislation to increase jail time for traffickers

United States congressional delegates High Chief Uifa’atali Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen of American Samoa and James Moylan of the District of Guam are co-sponsors of a bill to raise mandatory minimum jail time from 15 to 25 years for convicted child traffickers. The bill, known as the Combating Human-Trafficking of Innocent Lives Daily (C.H.I.L.D.) Act of 2023, also requires uniform sentences for traffickers who exploit victims under the age of 18. The toughened law is expected to send a strong message to those who engage in child sex trafficking. “Human trafficking is one of the greatest crimes imaginable, yet it is a sad reality that we must defeat,” said Congresswoman Radewagen. “Thank you to Congressman Moylan for his leadership on this important issue as we fight for the lives and futures of vulnerable children.” Representatives Don Davis of North Carolina, Diana Harshbarger of Tennessee, and Don Bacon of Nebraska also co-sponsored the bill, which was introduced last September.