300,000 Babies Trafficked In Spain?

The Spanish nation has been shaken by allegations of the theft and trafficking of thousands of babies. From as early as the 1930s to as late as 1990, thousands of mothers in Spain were told just after they had given birth that their newborns had died.

But most of the babies hadn’t died, according to a new documentary from the BBC, but were instead taken by doctors, nurses and priests to be given or sold to other families.

The Daily Mail reports that as many as 300,000 babies could have been stolen over fifty years.

Fifty Years Of Stealing Babies From Parents Deemed “Undesirable”

The practice of removing children from parents deemed “undesirable” and placing them with “approved” families, began in the 1930s under the dictator General Francisco Franco.

At that time, the motivation may have been ideological. But years later, babies began to be taken from parents considered morally or economically deficient. It was also clearly a money-spinner.

The scandal is closely linked to the Catholic Church, which under Franco assumed a prominent role in Spain’s social services including hospitals, schools and children’s homes. Nuns and priests compiled waiting lists of would-be adoptive parents, while doctors were said to have lied to mothers about the fate of their children.

In 1971, Manoli Pagador Gave Birth To Healthy Boy Who Suddenly “Died”

Take the case of Manoli Pagador, as reported by BBC News:

In 1971 Manoli, who was 23 at the time and not long married, gave birth to what she was told was a healthy baby boy, but he was immediately taken away for what were called routine tests.

Nine interminable hours passed. “Then, a nun, who was also a nurse, coldly informed me that my baby had died,” she says.

They would not let her have her son’s body, nor would they tell her when the funeral would be.

Did she not think to question the hospital staff?

“Doctors, nuns?” she says, almost in horror. “I couldn’t accuse them of lying. This was Franco’s Spain. A dictatorship. Even now we Spaniards tend not to question authority.”

Story Exploded This Year: My “Father” Is Not My Father

The scale of the baby trafficking was unknown until this year, when two men discovered that their parents were not their real parents. The truth was revealed as Juan Luis Moreno’s “father” lay on his deathbed and told his son that he had been purchased from a priest as a baby. When Moreno, along with Antonio Barroso, who had the same story, went to the press, the story exploded.

After Franco’s death in 1975, the major political parties agreed an amnesty to help smooth the transition to democracy. But this amnesty law has never been repealed, so attempts to investigate Spain’s baby trafficking as a national crime against humanity have been rejected by the country’s judiciary.

Babies’ Graves Reveal Nothing But Piles Of Stones

Babies’ graves have been dug up across the country for DNA-testing. Some have revealed nothing but a pile of stones, while others have contained adult remains. And Spaniards have flocked to clinics to take DNA tests in the hope of reuniting their families.

And In Argentina….Mothers Of the Plaza de Mayo

All this is eerily reminiscent of Argentina, where the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo was formed by women who came together in the course of trying to find their missing sons and daughters, who were abducted by agents of the Argentine government during the years known as the Dirty War (19761983). As many as 30,000 children “disappeared” at this time, in exactly the same circumstances.

This is a cruel and tragic story, and kudos to the BBC for revealing it. In doing so, let’s hope they prevent babies from ever disappearing in this way again.

Take Action Now!

The Spanish government promised to set up a national DNA database so that children and families can get some answers, but has so far not fulfilled its promise. Please sign our petition asking them to set up this database immediately.

Photo Credit: iStock

Love This? Never Miss Another Story.


Brenda Coughlan
Brenda Coughlanabout a year ago

These crimes happened in Australia - exposed during a Commonwealth Senate Inquiry - Report 29.2.2012 - National apology taking full responsibilities 23.3.2013 YET NO ONE HAS BEEN BROUGHT TO ACCOUNTABILITY AND JUSTICE FOR THESE BABY TRAFFICKING CRIMES IN AUSTRALIA.

Our petition is before Commonwealth Senate demanding accountability and justice yet Zero action at present. Our 100% support for a Spain inquiry and in Argentina - 2 elderly medical persons were brought to justice several years ago for the same crimes -if we can do anything to help we are only an email away (down under in Australia) motherstruth@gmail.com and our petition is http://www.thepetitionsite.com/527/722/313/bring-medical-accountability-for-their-past-child-abuse-crimes/

Veronique L.
veronique L.3 years ago

Thank you for sharing!

Carole R.
Carole R.3 years ago

How awful. I can't even imagine how anyone could do this.

Manuela B.
Manuela B.3 years ago

this is horrible, what if a male marries his sister without knowing it...??

Veronique V.
Veronique V.3 years ago

I was trafficked and then later sold again into an adoption after passing trough different foster families. The social services or catolic adoption agency sent a person to see if my foster adoption was going ok. This person that was sent in to check up on me to see if my adoption was ok is now publicly outed in the media as a pedophile eventhough I have know this for years. This pedophiles that worked for adoption agencies and the church and even in the media checked up on me more then once a year and everytime these people checked up on me I was raped or hurt by them. I lost the adoptive parents that I liked because I was terrified to talk. My handler or the pedophile appointed to handle my case is still visiting my adoptif parents under the guise of visiting friends. He beat to death to make a snuffmovie. I stand alone. I do not know who my mother is but it is possible that she is a sold childsexslave to who was used for breeding when she became a pre-pubalescent. The adoptive parents I have now are also people that where adopted and stolen from their family.

Veronique V.
Veronique V.3 years ago

I was trafficked.

Rose Balcom
Rose Balcom4 years ago

Lots of cases of this in the US too. One of the largest was Georgia Tann in Tennesse who with help of Judge Camille sold 5000 babies of mostly poor or unwed mothers in Memphis, at her Tennesse Children's Home Society to rich families from 1920's to 1950's. Adoption reform took place in Tennesse because of what Georgia Tann had done. But that did nothing to relieve the pain and suffering of parent's and sold adopted children.

Christina B.
Christina B.4 years ago

The exact same thing happened in Greece, too. Back in 1947, in the midst of a civil war, Queen Frederike decided to found "child cities", organisations created to "provide hospitality" for children whose parents were either killed, jailed or outlawed, without the consent of either the children or their relatives. For many years to come, even after the war, hundreds of mothers who gave birth in public hospitals were told their babies had died, while church-run orphanages made a profit out of illegal adoptions.

A great percentage of all these kids were adopted mainly by couples in the US. The scandal came to light a few years ago and efforts have been made (mainly by the Red Cross and TV shows) for families to become reunited.

Biby C.
Biby C.4 years ago

This is absolutely shocking!!! I thought this sort of thing only happens in corrupt third world countries! So, third world or not, we're just all the same, aren't we?And the churches are involved! What have their god taught them?!?!!!!

tiffany t.
tiffany t.4 years ago

how could people stealing babies justify their actions. Heartbreaking