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.
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 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.
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.