Spain's Stolen Babies Scandal

Thousands of babies were stolen from hospitals and clinics throughout Spain in the 1970s and 80s, and only recently has the extent of this massive crime come to light. Mothers up and down the country were told their new born babies had died, while nuns, priests and doctors were complicit in then selling those babies on to childless couples. Most babies were sold for around 120,000 pesetas which is a mere €750 in today's money. In those days that was enough to buy a house.

Recent reports put the stolen babies figure at a massive 600,000.

Thanks to DNA testing, many of the those children are now aware of their background and 235,000 denuncias have been lodged with the courts.

THE CASES OUTLINED HERE ARE NOT THE SAME AS THE FRANCO STOLEN BABIES SCANDAL, as many of the newer cases happened after 1975 when Franco ceased to be in power.

Many parents are still looking for their children, and many children are still looking for the real parents, while the Catholic church is blocking their efforts.

Recent news video from Antena 3, a major TV station in Spain

Translation of the words on the screen above - They said her twins had died.

newborn babies being stolen
newborn babies being stolen

For those of you who don't speak Spanish, the program starts off explaining where in Spain those cases happened.

The areas in Spain outlined in pink show where cases of stolen babies have come to light. The camera then flashes over to interview an elderly couple who for 32 years have searched for their baby who supposedly died at birth. Perhaps someone here who speaks Spanish better than me can explain what the mother said about "9 hours later" when talking about the birth. This couple have searched for their child for 32 years. Can you imagine their misery?

The video then interviews a young man who has been searching for his sister for 32 years. He remembers the day his sister was born. After giving birth, his mother called to say she was perfect and that she looked like her father. Later when his father went to the hospital to see his daughter he was told that she had died. He asked to see the body and was told no because the body had been prepared for burial.

An interesting thing in all those cases is that the parents were never permitted to see their dead children. In the 70s and 80s I was myself a nurse in the UK, and at that time it was recognised the importance of letting parents hold their dead babies to say goodbye as it helps in the grieving process.

Spain had at that time also adopted this policy.

In every single case here, the parents were not allowed to see the bodies of their supposedly "dead" babies.

This is because of course they weren't dead. They were stolen by the doctors and nuns (nuns prominently worked in maternity units) and there are many cases that prove Catholic priests, the so-called men of God, were the ones who sourced new parents and handed the babies over.

The video also interviews a mother who gave birth to twins without complication, who were both healthy.

But then the nurse came and told her that her babies had died. I'm not fully understanding what is said afterwards but the mother is convinced her babies were stolen.

The people in the studio ask her why she didn't insist on seeing on dead babies, as was her right, and she replies that her own mother and her husband asked many times but were refused.

If we have any interpretors reading here, I would be delighted to include a translation, if possible.

The mothers were deceived and thought their babies had died
The mothers were deceived and thought their babies had died

THE REASON SO MANY PEOPLE ARE INVOLVED IN THIS, AND WHY SO MANY BELIEVE THAT BABIES WERE STOLEN, IS BECAUSE IN ALL THE CASES THERE WAS NO DEATH CERTIFICATE REGISTERED WITH THE RELEVANT AUTHORITIES.

The whole scandal is now coming to light, bit by bit, thanks in a large part to the internet.

Many adoptive parents have real birth certificates to prove the children are theirs, yet the DNA doesn't match. Not only that, but families of the those "adoptive" parents confirm the mother showed no sign of pregnancy.

Julia Crusafont was born in 1975 in Clinica Gortari at Pamplona.

Two days later she was adopted. When she grew up she tried to find her birth mother. She had papers to say that the nuns were involved, but they denied everything when she tried to ask them. She did manage to learn however, that her birth mother did not sign the adoption papers, and that the hospital had kept no record of her.

Juan Luis Moreno (left) and Antonio Barroso are victims of illegal adoptions.
Juan Luis Moreno (left) and Antonio Barroso are victims of illegal adoptions.

Antonio Barroso, who was himself a stolen baby, has started a website to try and help others in the same situation. I include the translated version of his website here - ANADIR - which stands for the National Association of People Affected by Illegal Adoptions.

"My name is not Antonio, and my name is not Barroso. I do not know if I was born in Zaragoza and do not know if it was 18 February. My life is a lie. "

"The kids at school told me that my mother was not my mother. Once I asked her if this was true and she said no, far from it. That was the end of that. "

When he was 18 he saw his own birth certificate for the first time, and it confirmed his parents were who they said they were.

Antonio's childhood friend was Juan Luis Moreno (shown here), and when Juan's father was dying he confessed from his death-bed that he had bought Juan from a priest at the private clinic Pérez Serrano (now defunct) in Zaragoza and that a few months earlier Antonio's father had done the same. Moreno's father paid 150,000 pesetas for him.

DNA tests further revealed that both children were not the biological children of their mothers, despite the birth certificates saying otherwise.

The internet was slow taking off in Spain due to the high telephony charges, but now more and more young Spanish people are joining forces to demand the truth and to see doctors up and down the country prosecuted for those heinous acts.

So far, no-one has been charged. A test case was presented today (January 27, 2011) at the Attorney General's office in Madrid, thanks to Antonio Barroso's group, ANADIR. Read more here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/27/spain-alleged-stolen-babies-network

Popular online sites for finding missing relatives are www.buscapersonas.org and www.quiensabedonde.es and many pleas have been entered on Facebook.

Busca personas means 'looking for people' while quien sabe donde means 'who knows where they are'.

Every day new stories are breaking on this terrible scandal. There was even a case in Cadiz where a baby's grave was opened and the coffin found to be empty, as outlined here - Illegal adoption Network in Ceuta.

It is time the rest of the world realised what happened in Spain, and to help re-unite those broken families.

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Comments 34 comments

lyndre profile image

lyndre 5 years ago from Scotland

A heart breaking story Izzy.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

Its awful and what gets me is that this is a big story here in Spain, yet there is practically nothing written in English about it. I don't know how they are ever going to re-unite those families.


dashingclaire profile image

dashingclaire 5 years ago from United States

Story worth sharing, but very unfortunate topic!


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

Thanks dashingclaire. It's horrendous. After writing this hub, I see that some of the major news people have picked the story up (not from me unfortunately) and so I have added in more links to it.


Francisco  5 years ago

This is a scandal that should be known everywhere. We are afraid too many interests in keeping things hidden are involved. A possible change to a rightish government in Spain in the near future very likely will bring the same ideological and instituitional institutions to power and to control and prevent further investigations.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

Hopefully the whole world will learn about this soon and that every possible step will be taken to reunite lost families. It may have been kept hidden in the past, but we know about it now and the internet is a very powerful medium. Thanks for taking the time to comment :)


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 5 years ago from USA

This is unreal. Think of the pain they caused all of these parents and now the shock to know that their babies may still be alive.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

It's disgraceful that any civilised country could allow this to happen, and an even bigger disgrace that it took a pressure group (ANADIR) to bring this to not only the attention of the authorities but the world's press. On the news today they said this horrible and inhumane practise may have continued into the 90s too. It's awful!


Dr. Amilia profile image

Dr. Amilia 5 years ago

Goodness, so disgraceful and for the catholic church to be involved?

Note to self: Take a trusting friend in the labour room with you.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

Some of these babies were removed after birth, after the mother had held them but after she fell asleep. A trusting friend would not have helped. New evidence coming out is that the hospitals on occasion kept a dead baby in the fridge to show to all grieving parents.


chspublish profile image

chspublish 5 years ago from Ireland

What a tragedy for all those people. It's unbelievable. What were those people in trusted positions thinking? Thanks for the writing.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

It's like something that might have happened in Victorian times, isn't it? shocking!


mysterylady 89 profile image

mysterylady 89 5 years ago from Florida

I am amazed that someting like this could be happening in the 20th century! Bravo, Izzy, for shedding light on it!


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

Thanks, I think I will need to write more about it to further highlight it. This is just too shocking to be left at this...


RockRat 5 years ago

The Catholic Church should be restricted to clerical work ONLY and not allowed to perform extraneous tasks that are unapproved by the whole. They have no accountability. The "infallibility" concept, and that the Priest is "God the Father", is a farce. Crimes committed in the name of God? Destroy the Church, and free the world.


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

What a crazy and amazing story!


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

There was a news update last week about it. I think the figures have just shot a lot higher as hundreds of thousands more people are coming forward to say they were told their babies had died but on investigating there are no records of their deaths!


SUSIE42 profile image

SUSIE42 5 years ago

What a nightmare for those mothers who lost their babies. There is a reason to have your baby at home and never let it out of your sight.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

Exactly! But you wouldn't expect this to happen in a civilised country.


rehan24 profile image

rehan24 5 years ago

intresting info.. thank for sharing


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

It's still hot news here. I don't think it'll ever be resolved :(


sagbee profile image

sagbee 5 years ago from Delhi

Simply, a heart breaking story. Great.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

And shocking to think that such a thing could happen, and so recently.


theodora 5 years ago

i am a stolen baby and i have no idea from were.I was sold in Greece.Athens born july 1981.i have tan skin,black brown hair and brown eyes.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

I hope you get found Theodora. Try joining one of the missing babies groups that are for re-uniting families.


Raleigh  5 years ago

It is so amazing that you took your own time and wrote this story to share with all of us. It really is a vulgar thing that they did... imagine if they were stolen as a baby and how they would feel. Then again they probably don't feel. Most of the priests join the chuch because they are gay and insecure because of it. However, this does not justify what those heart-less animals did to those families. I am so glad l live in America!


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

Thanks for taking the time to comment, Raleigh. Hopefully if enough people in the world learn of this modern day tragedy, pressure will be brought to bear on the relevant authorities to speed the reunion of broken families up.


AnesaK profile image

AnesaK 4 years ago from USA

My goodness! I never heard of about this issue before, and it really disturbed me. You have to be constantly aware and ask questions in life- you never know. I'm wishing good luck to all who are piecing their lives together as a result of this scandal :(.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 4 years ago from UK Author

The BBC has taken up this story now. The last I heard the Spanish High Court is refusing to assist the thousands of families who have lost their children, and Spain is refusing to set up a DNA database to help lost children re-unite with their families. So it may never get resolved unless more of the world's Press steps in to help and put pressure on the Spanish government, and as we have a new right wing government newly in power, I can't see anything changing soon.


AnesaK profile image

AnesaK 4 years ago from USA

I am very sorry to hear this, IzzyM! The governments around the world have unfortunately let all of us down. It is up to NGOs and other social movements to fight for justice, and if enough people rise up, as you said, the media would cover more civil issues and there will be more presence to resolve them. I hope this happens sooner than later for these families...


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 4 years ago from UK Author


AnesaK profile image

AnesaK 4 years ago from USA

Wonderful! Thanks for the information...I will forward it to others as well :).


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 4 years ago from UK Author

Please do, and many thanks :)


A Dane in Spain profile image

A Dane in Spain 2 years ago from Torrox, Malaga. Spain

Well done Izzy, for bringing this to peoples attention! voted up

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