Two weeks ago, Care2 reported that Spanish social services had taken a baby away because her mother refused to wean. The mother, known as Habiba, had moved into a women’s shelter in Madrid with her 15 month old daughter, known as Alma. On May 31, Habiba’s daughter was taken away from her because she refused to forcibly wean her baby. Habiba was also criticized for cosleeping with her baby instead of putting her in a cot. On June 22, they were finally reunited after a social services committee overturned the earlier removal.
Louma Sader Bujana, one of the bloggers who translated materials into English and helped to bring international coverage to the story, wrote about the reunification on her blog Amor Maternal. She translated and shared an official update from Fundacion Raices, an organization that had been supporting Habiba:
They’re TOGETHER; HUGGING AND FREE!!! Little Alma recuperates emotionally with her head on her mothers chest, without taking her head off for so much as an instant, as though this whole ordeal had been a bad dream. Habiba is glowing as we had never seen her before. We assure you that everything you’ve done has been worth it. Alma, Habiba as well as all the people at Fundacion Raices will be forever grateful for all your support.
Habiba and Alma, who wish to remain anonymous, seen reunited here (photo credit: Dr. Ibone Olza)
The Guardian spoke to Habiba’s lawyer about the reunification. He said: “It was an amazing re-encounter between mother and child. The child wouldn’t leave her mother alone and you could see both of them slowly being transformed by the encounter. It was moving and very beautiful.” Her lawyer also criticized Spain’s system of child removal as backwards, telling the Guardian:
While Habiba and Alma are back together, there is also recognition that other mothers and children continue to suffer from this type of treatment. When Habiba’s case was publicized, other women came forward with stories of being forced to wean under threat of their children being taken away. As a result of this case, a group called A.L.M.A. (All Loving Mothers Association) has been formed to “protect families rights to breastfeed, cosleep, birth at home, educate at home and be together”. The facebook page for A.L.M.A. notes that:
It is clear that certain parenting practices, that also happen to be very healthy, like breastfeeding and cosleeping are criminalized by social services, and even by some extent, by society at large. We have proven that we can fight back, and win. This page is a platform of activism to protect the rights of families.
For Habiba and Alma, the nightmare is over. For other families and children, the battle continues.
Image credit: Louma Sader Bujana