Ally Burke: A Chilean family and the lost sister
By Taylor J. Hale
Continued from the Sept. 20 edition
PORTAGE COUNTY – Burke and her husband see Shielding Survivors as a starting arena for their battle with sex-trafficking in the state.
The duo has big plans in the future for the program and works diligently to combat the troubles of trafficking.
The local activist has a personal connection to the program. Burke was born in Santiago, Chile, on Sept. 20, 1986, as Natalia Isabel Davis Sandoval to Myriam Isabel Sandoval Vasquez, but never knew her biological mother. She was “put up for adoption” and moved to Wisconsin with her parents. Her adopted parents first met her at the age of 10 months old.
“The first time I learned that name I was 12 years old going through a big binder with my adopted name on it,” Burke explained about her mother in a written testimony to the Chilean Government for a pending court case against her biological mother.
“I saw this photocopy of her Identification card. I could not make out her face because of it being a photocopy, but I could read her name.”
Burke held onto the name as a piece of her identity until 2017, when she experienced a personal identity crisis.
“In the year 2017 I was up one night having a serious mental breakdown,” she wrote in her testimony. “I stared at myself in the mirror, trying to find me. Where did I get these eyes? This mouth? My hands and ears and hair and teeth? Who am I?”
After hours of contemplation, she found a Facebook group dedicated to helping people find their estranged families in Chile, called “Chile Adoption Birth Family Search.” It took the group two weeks to find the contact information of Myriam, who agreed to speak with Burke.
The local woman got her family’s contact information in Chile and immediately reached out.
“My biological youngest sister, Valentina, was the one who would write me the most first,” she said. “She shared with me stories of her life, her daughters’ life, shared I have a brother, his name is Axel, whom I think looks most like me. She shared I have two older half-sisters, Nayira and Angela. She painted me this picture of this family like it was truly a happy home and that I truly missed out.”
Burke was saddened to have missed decades with her siblings but thrilled to have found her biological family.
She later connected with her mother, who would soon cast a looming cloud over her reunion. “(She) apologized to me with great guilt, she claimed she was ashamed of the choice she made to let me go,” Burke said about her mother.
After connecting with more family members and her father, Roberto, people began to open up to her about her birth in Santiago. They warned her about Myriam and her deceptive ways. That’s when things started to come together for Burke. Santiago is an international hot-spot for human-trafficking, with several noteworthy legal cases taking place there since the 1980s; including the case of Father Gerardo Joannon, whom allegedly sold infants to wealthy families from 1975 through 1983. Joannon told parents that their children had died and sold them for profit, according to reports.
Continued in an upcoming edition