HOUSTON – A local firefighter born in Chile was taken from his birth mother as a newborn. Over three decades later, Tyler Graf has reconnected with his family who never knew he existed.
Graf said his emotions are all over the place. There are times where he is shocked and angry.
However, he said he is excited to learn more about his family a world away and said the Chilean government needs to step up and take responsibility.
“I feel like I’ve been in some way cheated,” Graf said.
The 38-year-old firefighter was adopted, but on May 22, he said learned that he was taken away from his birth mother.
“I wouldn’t have known anything if it wasn’t for meeting the Chilean fireman that has come out here to Houston,” he said.
When his mother gave birth, she was told that her son who was named Sergio had passed away and she was not allowed to see his body.
Graf said it was a lie and his case was part of a huge kidnapping scheme from the 1980s. He showed KPRC 2 several documents, including his Chilean passport where he and his mother’s name and information were forged.
“I mean you are playing with people’s lives for money. You are not destroying one life, you’re destroying multiple families,” Graf said.
Graf’s attorney, Anthony Clarkson, said an initial investigation estimates up to 8,000 to 12,000 children and families suffered similar fates and ordeals in the 80s.
In July, a DNA test confirmed that Tyler and his mother were a match.
“I can’t imagine what my birth mother went through when she lost me and grieved my death,” he said.
Tyler has three sisters that did not even know he existed. He spoke to one of them through zoom who said she cannot wait to meet him.
“At the beginning, it was complicated. Then it became enjoyment, I love his laughter and his smile,” said Graf’s sister.
After 38 years, Graf has a wife and an 8-month-old son. He said is still processing what happened.
“But now, I’m in between families. I do not want to hurt my adoptive parents’ feelings or my birth mothers’ feelings, so it is kind of a fine balance right now. I’m trying to figure where I fit in the middle of all this,” he said.
Graf is raising money to go see his family in Chile. He created a GoFundMe page. If you would like to help, click here.
Graf’s attorney, Anthony Clarkson, sent KPRC 2 a statement about the case:
I was moved by Mr. Graf and his journey and could not in good conscience sit by without helping not only Mr. Graf but the two families who were affected by these dark and unfathomable dealings. We are working to gather as many facts as possible to present our case within the proper avenues so that these families can find some peace and justice with what they have experienced.