The Stolen Babies Of Spain

Over five decades, as many as 300,000 newborn babies were stolen and sold in Spain, primarily by the Roman Catholic clergy administering the nation's hospitals. At first, the clergy thieved at the instruction of Spain's fascist leader, General Franco, who sought to remove newborns from the homes of politically suspect parents. Explanations vary as to why the thieving didn't stop after Franco's death in 1975. In some cases, it was the profit-motive. (You could get a lot of pesetas for a healthy newborn.) In other cases, clergy sought to help the children by removing them from heathen mothers and planting them in good, Catholic homes. The epidemic of baby-theft ended only after the Spanish government wrested control of adoptions from the churches and hospitals in 1987.

The racket went like this: A woman gave birth, the baby was removed from the room, and some time later the mother was informed of the baby's death. Often, the mother was denied permission to view her child's body. Other times, the doctors presented her with a prop corpse they kept in the hospital's freezers. As grieving parents attended funeral masses dedicated to empty coffins, a loose affiliation of priests, doctors, nuns, and nurses colluded to deliver the baby to eager adoptive parents. The crime was repeated in hospital after hospital, city after city.

This bizarre story of Spain's stolen babies went largely untold until March of this year, when victimized parents first addressed the Congress of Deputies in Madrid. The precise details of the en masse abductions still aren't widely understood, despite a cover story in Time and a flurry of shorter print articles last spring.

That'll change a little come Tuesday, when BBC2 airs This World: Spain's Stolen Babies. According to the Daily Mail, the doc focuses primarily on a woman named Manolo Pagador and her search for her son, who may or may not be a 40-year-old Texan named Randy Ryder. That's him at the top of this article, in a BBC2 photo borrowed from the Daily Mail. There, the caption reads: "Randy Ryder as a baby being cradled in a Malaga hospital in 1971 by the woman who bought him."

The doc airs at 9 p.m. in Britain, and will live on the internet thereafter.


  1. Lexxvs says

    As always under regimes that can decide over the life and death of their entire population we will never now the exact extend of injustices and atrocities committed against their people. Imagine right now what it’s done in Syria and so on and on.
    By the way MANOLO is a man’s name. It’s Manoli in her case.

  2. Maek says

    Would you please refrain from using the black background on your website. It is virtually unreadable. The only way I can read your site is by using Google Reader where it comes out as black on white. I would like to send selected webpages to friends, but I know they wouldn’t be able to read it on the black background. Something to consider.

  3. matt says

    That’s like asking Coke to not use a swash in its logo. Ain’t gonna change. But on another note: we can assume AT is NOT doing the blogs on the weekend? You can kinda tell.

  4. ratbastard says

    Taking infants away from ‘undesirable’ mothers [poor, single, ‘ignorant’, retarded, etc.] was commonplace prior to so-called reforms and the advent of the welfare state, as was forced sterilization. Eugenics has been re-branded and is alive and well.

    As for politics: left and rightwing totalitarian regimes have engaged in this practice.

  5. Continuum says

    Every time you think that the Catholic Church could not sink any lower, these kind of stories come to light.


    1) Why isn’t the Catholic Church being prosecuted under the RICO statutes? Their actions would do the Mafia proud.

    2) Does anyone really think that the Catholic Chruch only did this in Spain? We have consistenly seen that Catholic Church officials conspired from one country to another. My guess is that the same thing happened in South America, Central America, and in European nations like Ireland or Poland where the Catholic church pretty much did whatever they wanted.

  6. Xavi says

    Guess what? When a fascist dictatorship destroys its political opponents in a campaign of state sanctioned fear and terror with the direct assistance of the Catholic church over a period of four decades, people get upset and angry.

    Who would have thought? Gee, is it any surprise the Catholic church has lost any semblance of national support in Spain?

    This society did not buy into the Catholic church’s frantic campaign to stop, delay, and stall political efforts by the government to ratify the same sex marriage law in 2005.

    The law was ratified, Spain has enjoyed years of civil marriage among same-sex partners and the Catholic church ended up looking like the fools in funny dresses that they are.

  7. ravewulf says

    I happen to like the black background. It’s much better on the eyes when reading from a screen than being blinded by bright white all the time, especially in the morning or at night. If you have trouble reading it you can continue to use plugins or addons or browser settings. If you want you could even define a custom CSS file to completely change the page layout.

    On topic:
    When are we going to be rid of organized religion?

  8. says

    I swear to you, this is absolutely disgusting. If true, and I suspect it is, the Catholic Church should be shut down and the Catholic faith abolished entirely. As the gay father of my own son I am outraged that the Catholic Church continues to be allowed to get away with these continuous crimes and still be catered to by faithful idiots. Anyone claiming to be a Christian has to be a complete fool.

  9. Chio says

    I spent a long time in an orphanage in Baeza Jaen in Andalucia in the 1980’s and no one was sold there. The nuns took care of us. When my fatgher died when I was seven, nobody wanted to adopt me and the nuns took care of me until I was 15, when I left on my own to go to a school. Maybe something happened bad somewhere, but they were not all bad. I have good memories of my years with them.

  10. Tim says

    The fact that it’s quoted from the Daily Mail takes a huge amount of credibility away from it. Being a BBC production does lend it some back. I’ll be interested to watch this and see what the real story is. It’s rarely what the Daily Mail prints. They are nearly a conservative, bigoted version of the National Enquirer.

  11. Rowan says

    Alan or Tim, I won’t even waste my breath on you guys. Why don’t you just go on google if you have a problem believing a story that is the least shocking story in the world! Considering it happened in your country with the native Americans!! As well as the colored children who could pass.

    Sheez. Idiots.

  12. dj says

    “good, Catholic homes” my ass. Lets see what Pope is going to say. My guess is: “Wasn’t me.”, like he said for boys molesting.

  13. Bob R says

    The Catholic church is and has been the greatest and most successful criminal organization on the planet. The crimes of this church are legion; from petty theft, grand larceny, torture, even mass murder, there is probably no crime in which the Catholic church has not knowingly and willingly participated. What’s more, many of the crimes were sanctioned by and in cooperation with the “state” and all performed tax free.

    Hitchen’s, among others are quite correct; religion poisons everything. To quote Pascal: “Men never commit evil so fully and joyfully as when they do it for religious convictions.”

  14. anon says

    I take some of this reporting with a grain of salt, owing to how there would be professional medical doctors involved (not just nuns and priests) and that this would involve thousands of individuals over decades. The adoption paperwork might still exist. Typically there would be a consent form signed by the parents. Orphans would need a judge to sign for them. It used to be that consent forms would not be public records, but held in confidence (like tax returns), but in the US that has changed somewhat, allowing for “open” adoptions. Spain might be another matter but the socialist govt. there would have the opportunity for reform.

  15. vanndean says

    Maek–depending on the browser, there are several ways to have the background and the font in colors of your choice. If you use Firefox, the options button under tools will allow you to set the color of both the background and the text. There is a way to do so in IE also but it used to be a bit more complicated than button selection. Good luck.