Spain’s Stolen Babies

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Up to 300,000 Spanish newborn babies were stolen from their parents and sold for adoption over a five decade period. The mothers, often young and unmarried, were told their babies had died and were not allowed to see the body or attend the funeral. A secret network of doctors, nurses, priests, and nuns trafficked the babies beginning during the reign of General Franco and continuing into the early 1990’s.

The Catholic Church is closely linked to the scandal, which, under Franco, played a powerful role in Spain’s social services including hospitals, schools, and children’s homes. The system of baby theft continued even after the dictator’s death in 1975.

Lists of would-be adoptive parents were compiled by nuns and priests. The adoptive parents, in many cases, were unaware that the babies had been stolen, they were told that the mothers had given the babies up.

Countless faux burials for the “dead” babies were performed with casket filled with animal bones and rocks. Some hospitals kept frozen baby cadavers to show to mothers as proof their baby had died.

The Catholic Church saw this as a moral crusade, removing babies from sinful unmarried mothers and placing them with those who were more worthy, in the eyes of God. If the Church also turned a profit, so much the better.

It is often argued that without God there are no objective moral values. If stealing and selling babies can be justified as an objective moral action, then there are no objective moral values.

H/T: Pharyngula, Daily Mail, The Guardian, BBC News.

47 thoughts on “Spain’s Stolen Babies

  1. Woosty’s

    “but also, historically, in a position to attempt to protect people from an overbearing and abusive State, like a fascist regime might be ..”

    That brings to mind people like the Baptist, The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. here in the United States or the Anglican, The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu (Archbishop Emeritus since he is retired) in South Africa, and even the Buddhist, His Holiness The Dalai Lama in Tibet.

    Certainly all these men, when they found themselves in position to lead others, did so without totally compromising the tenets of the religions they followed to the degree that the leadership of the Catholic Church has done.

  2. To follow up on Woosty’s earier statement regarding Pan’s Labyrinth etc: Stealing babies is not limited to the church but a political tool and expedient also:

    Argentina ‘stolen baby’ cases legacy of Dirty War

    “The fate of Argentina’s “stolen babies” has been back in the headlines this past week, with the start of the trial of key members of the former military junta on charges of operating a systematic plan to take babies from pregnant detainees.

    Eight people are on trial, including former leaders Jorge Videla and Reynaldo Bignone.

    The accusation against them relates to 34 children who were allegedly stolen. But it is estimated that hundreds of children were given away to members of the security forces, and in some cases to the same captors of the jailed activists. …”

    “It is something difficult to explain. It’s like I always knew something was not right,” Mr Madariaga says.

    Mr Madariaga says he was regularly beaten by his adoptive father, abuse that reinforced his doubts.

    “I think I was like a prize of war,” Mr Madariaga says …”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-12620384

  3. And they wonder why attendance is down.
    I wonder what the average Catholic feels when confronted with this kind of activity by his/her church.
    Doesn’t even this kind of thing shake their faith in the Papal authority. Can they really believe that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ when he condones and probably participates in these kinds of things that Christ would never have approved of.
    I think just about all religions would give me that. They may not believe in Christ as the son of God but most at least respect his character and teachings of love and kindness. I don’t think one could say that of the Catholic church.
    (my appologies if I have offended any catholic readers. I don’t intend insult to you. Just the organization.)

  4. It isn’t just the Catholic church that it is the baby stealing and selling business. Have a good look at the practices of Lutheran “Social Services” that operates a kidnapping and baby-selling agency in Wisconsin and other locales.

    Here is my family’s horrible story, that involves a murder and an attempted murder by an adoptive woman vetted by LSS.

    In 1969, my uncle became a biological father. He’d been engaged to the baby’s mother, but she broke off the engagement & gave the baby up for adoption thru Lutheran Social Services. My uncle had a university degree, & was licensed to teach both social studies & history. In fact, at the time his son was born, he was employed full time as a teacher– although he was considered, by educational authorities, to be perfectly fit to indoctrinate and, indeed, raise, children belonging to other persons for 7+ hours per day, the fact that he wasn’t married made him unfit as a matter of law to raise his own child for purposes of the children’s code.

    Since the biological mother (not some immature teenager but an adult hairdresser) unilaterally decided to give the baby up for adoption & get on her merry way partying & doing whatever it was that she wanted to do (fortunately she never had any more children) & my uncle had no right whatsoever to nay-say it or take the baby himself, social workers with a sick, religious-based moral agenda swooped in & legally stole the baby, giving him to a couple whose only qualifications, so far as I have been able to tell, were the fact that they were married, believed in a deity, & wasted time each week going to a building with a steeple & worshiping said imaginary being.

    Uncle went to an attorney for the purpose of trying to get custody of the baby, and was told that it wasn’t allowed under Wisconsin law. I’ve reviewed the statutes from 1969 (they are available in scanned format on Wisconsin’s legislative reference bureau’s website) and confirmed that an unmarried biological father in 1969 had no rights whatsoever to his child, no matter how educated, wealthy, kind, or otherwise “fit” he may be.

    So the child was adopted out.

    Last year I learned that in 1972, a few days before his third birthday, the adoptive “mother” threw my cousin off a bridge in a drowning attempt (he was found unconscious with various injuries, floating face-up, but recovered in hospital), & at the same time did drown his younger sister (not a biological sister; he was the only child either of his biological parents ever had). Although the adoptive “mother” was locked up for a number of years, my cousin was not the subject of dependency proceedings. Rather, he was left in the “care” of his adoptive “father” who was seriously depressed & had difficulty functioning, and in the “care” of his adoptive “grandparents” who beat him when he in his toddler innocence asked where his sister had gone. So this was how he grew up, in a small town, where he was ostracized & mistreated by other kids who, of course, knew the story.

    Last year, thanks to the internet, my cousin managed to find our family. Although I’d known for quite a few years about the legalized kidnapping that had been perpetrated upon my uncle, when I first heard the story of what had gone on in the home of the adoptive “family” it seemed so far-fetched that I had difficulty believing it. However, I was able to locate newspaper articles & confirm that this murder & attempted murder did, indeed, occur.

    Had my cousin been left in the care of his *real* father (yes, I consider my uncle who really wanted to keep the kid his “real” father; as far as I am concerned the adoptive father abdicated his role as father when my cousin was a toddler) he would not have been abused, injured, almost drowned, etc. My cousin would not have been a “parentified” child who was forced to look after the so-called adults in his adoptive family. As a demonstration of the parentification– my cousin is currently the legal guardian of one of his adoptive aunts. He was considered the fittest of the entire family. None of her several adult siblings were considered appropriate guardians for her. Basically, this is a judicial determination that he is the most functional adult in the entire extended “family” (the adoptive family, I mean). Had my cousin been raised by his *real* father, he most likely would have a university degree now (his adoptive “family” didn’t value education). Had my cousin been raised by his *real* father he would not now be a religious fundamentalist who believes in the literal truth of each word of the Old Testament. Had my cousin been raised by his *real* father he would not have spent significant portions of his life cleaning up after the adoptive parents’ compulsive hoarding disorder when government agencies got involved and ordered clean-up. His adoptive “parents” ruined his life. My cousin has spent years on antidepressants & seeing counselors.

    And my uncle? Unfortunately uncle’s dead now and I can’t confirm this, but it appears that some social worker did break the law & let him know where his son was; I’d heard that back when the baby was a toddler uncle had given a county social worker a sob story and she felt so sorry that she went into a closed file after the hours and given him the kid’s address, and he had gone to visit him, and also that the baby was with a religious farm family (true). I also heard that uncle had visited the child at age 3. Age 3 necessarily would have been after the drowning attempt. Way back when all this was going on, uncle had a breakdown & was hospitalized with severe depression.

    It affected my gran, too. After developing Alzheimers, she walked around in the late 70’s & early 80’s crying & muttering to herself over & over “she killed the baby; she threw it in the river.” For years she was in her own private hell, & only now do I know the cause. Obviously my uncle must have told her (my mother recently confessed to me that both my uncle and my grandmother knew about my cousin being thrown off the bridge by the adoptive “mother.”). And both uncle and gran were powerless to retrieve/rescue the legally stolen baby.

    So it isn’t just the Catholic Church.

    Oh, yeah. My dad’s older brother married an Ojibwe woman. Her mother (born about 1910 or so) was stolen from her family and raised in a religious boarding school, though I don’t know the denomination. But think of all of the Native American kids stolen and raised in all different denomination schools (including, for example, Baptist) over the years.

    Interestingly enough, Islam prohibits adoption. Judaism doesn’t, but I haven’t heard of any organized Jewish child theft rings along the lines of Catholic Charities or Lutheran Social Services.

  5. To Anarchistbookshop: OK, here’s unconfirmed UNOFFICIAL information regarding your speculating about the “organized Jewish child theft rings.” It does not involve any NON-JEWS, EVER. WHat has happened, as recently as a few years ago in New York, is that an Orthodox Jewish social services agency has taken a child away from her mother because the mother supported the child’s allegations that the father was sexually molesting her. The father then decided that rather than have all this reach the civil authorities, it would be better to have an agency he had some control over take the child, keep her in foster care, and arrange her hasty adoption so that the new family could remove the “stigma.” The agency told the mother that she should give up her parental rights and allow the child to be adopted. The religious authorities supported it because a girl with a “stain” would not find a good husband in the arranged marriage circles. The mother refused to give up her child. The full corruption of courts and agencies swung into action; the amount of unlawful and outrageously shameful actions defies belief. Former GOvernor David Paterson, when he was still a state senator in NY, held hearings on it. You could not imagine the amount of corruption that was uncovered; yet nothing was done. And then it came to light that this agency had already established a modus operandi Any children who alleged abuse were swept up into the agency by its “therapists” and “social workers” and then the children were put up for adoption. New name, new parents, no public shame about abuse, no information, records shredded, everything fixed.

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