Claudia, Estela’s Other Daughter
By Karina Mirochnik
Claudia Carlotto, the coordinator of the National Commission on the Right to Identity (CONADI), personally gives DNA results to the hundreds of people who have come searching for their true identity. The exception to this practice occurred in August 2014 in the case of her own nephew, named Guido by his biological mother but raised as Ignacio Hurban by his adoptive parents. “Unfortunately, the judge in his case had released information to the press, and I had to contact my nephew by telephone before he learned the news from the radio,” Claudia explains.
“He told me to give him some time. You can have all the time you want, I said. We just want you to know that we love you and that we looked for you for a long time, and we are going to do whatever you want,” remembers Claudia, while leaning against her chair in the 9th floor office of CONADI. Their building in downtown Buenos Aires is filled with pamphlets and posters encouraging young adults to visit the center if they have doubts about their identity.
Women Across Frontiers: Your mother Estela is 84 years old, but she looks so youthful.
Claudia: Before finding Guido, my mother was in very bad shape. She was so worried. I was afraid that she would die without meeting him. Now, she is so happy. She looks after herself, watches her diet, and goes to the doctor regularly because she wants to live and be with him as much as possible. I know she will not stop looking for more missing grandchildren. Her work will continue.
WAF: When did you finally meet your nephew?
Claudia: He called me back the next morning and said “Hi, how is everything going? This is crazy. I couldn’t stay in Olavarría [the town where he was raised and continues to live]. I had to go somewhere else because of the media in town. Where should I go?” I told him to come to my house because the Abuelas’ office and my mother’s house were surrounded by the press. The next day, we met his wife and three of his closest friends. That was his first encounter with my mother, my two brothers, and me. The rest of the family was in another house waiting for him.
WAF: What is he like? How is he doing?
Claudia: He is intelligent, sensible, reserved, and has a very strong set of values. He said to me, “I was always very happy, and nothing was missing in my life. I never felt any distress,” including when he learned the truth about his identity.
WAF: How is your relationship with him?
Claudia: I have a very loving relationship and I am very maternal with him even though he is a grown man, perhaps because I am his only aunt, which is the closest one can get to being a mother. I am his [late] mother’s sister. He is very affectionate with me. I call him “Coco Loco” (Crazy Coconut) as he doesn’t want me to call him Guido, and I am not going to call him Ignacio because it wouldn’t feel natural to me to call him that.
WAF: What about his adoptive parents?
Claudia: They worked hard to ensure that he received a good education. They provided him with various opportunities, and today he is not a farm worker [as were his adoptive parents] but an excellent musician. They raised him to be open-minded, which allowed him to face the truth about his identity.
WAF: Did you meet them?
Claudia: We don’t know his adoptive parents. We know that we would have felt less pain if they had told him the truth about who he really is. We would have loved to have raised him, so it’s inevitable that we feel the way we do. He doesn’t think it’s necessary for us to meet them, and they aren’t interested in meeting us. In some way, we feel that they stole something from us.