Stolen Baby Epidemic Uncovered

April Peveteaux
4

stolen babiesA dramatic Oscar-buzz-y feature film will surely follow this story out of Spain, which is shocking in not only its content, but in its extensive reach. Apparently Spain has a horribly long history of baby stealing; one that has gone on since the 1930s and lasted well into the 1980s.

Tens of thousands of mothers, after giving birth to healthy babies, have been told that their babies died and had already been buried, or were not available to be seen for another reason. What really happened varied depending on the time, but essentially these babies were given to parents interested in adopting. Or who were politically connected. Sick, right?

What's really bizarre is how the motivations behind the baby snatching changed dramatically over the decades, yet the methods remained the same.

Under the dictator, Francisco Franco, babies stolen in the late 1930s through the 1940s were done so for political reasons. Small children of Franco's political enemies were stolen and "re-educated" with families supportive of Franco's regime. The children were later told their real parents were murderers, and the children's names were changed -- ensuring there was no reunification of the family.

As the political motivations began to fade, doctors and nurses continued the baby stealing, it seems, for profit. Telling parents the babies had died and selling the babies to adoptive parents became the norm. Some of the nurses were also motivated by morality, if you can buy that. The nurses who were nuns would specifically target single mothers for baby stealing and place the babies into a home with two parents, who were presumably good Catholics. This went on into the 1980s.

How in the world something so widespread and nefarious could take place for such a long period of time is simply unbelievable. Most parents were told that their babies died of ear infections, and the babies had already been buried in mass graves. I can't imagine the uproar from the grieving parents, and how it could have been silenced for so long. Now that the word is out, only one child has been reunited with her mother. Let's hope the thousands of children who were stolen will soon be able to know the truth, and the parents who thought they buried a baby can find some relief. Although it's hard to imagine being robbed of your child, only to have him returned to you as an adult.

Better late than never?

 

Image via sabianmaggy/Flickr

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