2445719Santiago’s Children: What I Learned About Life at an Orphanage in Chile is a poignant memoir written by Steve Reifenberg about his experiences living in “Hogar Domingo Savio,” a small orphanage in an impoverished neighborhood of Santiago, Chile. After graduating from the University of Notre Dame, Steve lived and worked with children in the hogar from 1982-1984, which turned out to be among the most politically important and tumultuous years in Chile’s recent history. Because of Steve’s deep immersion into Chilean society, Santiago’s Children simultaneously depicts the struggles of ordinary children placed in incredibly challenging circumstances and offers a one-of-a-kind look at the cultural, social, economic, and political problems faced by Chileans during Pinochet’s brutal military dictatorship.

We hope this website creates a space for people to share their reflections about Santiago’s Children and about their own struggles, hopes, aspirations and insights in their efforts to make a contribution in a complicated world.


  1. My wife and I adopted a girl from Santiago in 1982. Trying to locate biological parents. Where do I start? She was 5 in ’82.

    1. Hi, my husband and i adopted a baby girl in 1980. we hired a lawyer in Chile who eventually found her biological family. we provided him with as much information as we could, including the mother’s name and address. and the name of the orphanage. My daughter communicates on a regular basis with a sister, and hopes to someday meet her.

    1. I worked at a small orphanage in Chile from 1982-1984 (and wrote a book about my experiences called “Santiago’s Children:WHat I Learned about life at an orphanage in Chile”) but I’m not, by any means,an expert on the system of orphanages in Chile.

      The Chilean government agency that deals with orphanages and adoptions is SENAME http://www.sename.cl/web/#
      here’s a recent document that has lists of lots of the orphanages in Chile. http://www.elmostrador.cl/media/2016/09/Primer-informe-de-visitas-a-centros-residenciales_nacional_agosto2016_completo.pdf I’m not sure this will be useful.

      I would recommend you try to talk with anyone involved in your adoption (your adoptive parents, lawyers involved, social worker, ect.) to get the information that could provide you a starting point.

      Good luck, sincerely,


  2. My name is Juan Pablo Araneda and was brought to the USA in 1986 and I’m looking any information on my family which would have the same last name, “Araneda”

    1. Dear Juan Pablo:
      Thanks for your note. I worked at a small, privately run orphanage in Santiago in the early 1980s, and unfortunately do not remember anyone with the family name “Araneda.” Sorry I can’t be more helpful in your search. Good luck, Sincerely,
      Steve Reifenberg

      1. Hello my name is Maciel Singleton now, at the time of adoption my name was Paulina Maciel Foster Santelices. I was brought to the states with my birth sister in 1992 by a family with the last name Acree. I don’t have much information on my adoption, my adopted parents and I are no longer in contact and haven’t been any help in finding my birth mother. If you have any information on how I can locate anyone please contact me

  3. I moved to Chile in 2015. I bought property in Villa Peluca/Antuco. My wife is a Chilean that has lived in Hualpen her whole life. We are interested in using our property in Villa Peluca as a private orphanage for a small number of children. Do you have any input or suggestions for us?

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