Apart For 24 Years And By 6,000 Miles, Mother And Son Reunite

Brazilian man adopted by Swiss couple finds his mother after seeing Folha's story of survivors of a downtown São Paulo building destroyed by fire

São Paulo

In May 2018, hundreds of people lost their homes when a building in downtown São Paulo collapsed after a fire. One of those was Ana Paula Archangelo dos, Santos. Like other survivors, she moved to an open campsite next to the wreckage, and I, a staff photographer at Folha, went to the site and took her picture since she was one of the camp leaders.

Six months later, I received a message written in English in one of my social networks. The writer said that the woman in that photo could be his mother. "I'm 24 years old, and I'm trying to learn about my past."

A Swiss couple adopted Kilian Imwinkelried as a newborn. "My biological mother's name is Ana Paula Archangelo dos Santos, and she would be 48. That's the same name and age of the woman in your story. I can see a physical resemblance between us from the photo you took. Do you know anything about her?"

Kilian Imwinkelried hugs his biological mother Ana Paula Archangelo dos Santos - Marlene Bergamo/Folhapress

"I'll try to find your mother," I wrote.

I found Ana near an informal market that happens daily near her former's building wreckage. There, she sells coffee, cake slices, and cigarettes to support her family.

She claimed not to remember all that happened in her life. "I had so many children, and my life had so many problems." However, she confirmed that she gave up a baby for adoption.

In Fiesch, Switzerland, Yvonne, a nurse, was trying to start a family with her husband, Franz. She was only 29, but she was having a hard time conceiving.

The couple opted to adopt after learning about Braskind, a nonprofit that helped and certified foreign couples to adopt Brazilian children. 

Kilian traveled with his family to São Paulo and finally met his biological mother.          

Translated by NATASHA MADOV

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