Manuela Polo is one of hundreds of women who were told their babies died shortly after birth when in fact they were taken and given to childless couples in a stolen baby scandal dating back to the Franco era that has only recently come to light.
The 79-year old from Galicia never fully believed that her seventh child had died shortly after she gave birth in a hospital in La Coruna and after a long search and a DNA test she finally met her daughter last week.
Mrs Polo was told that she had a baby boy and held him only briefly before he was whisked away by doctors who later said he had died. Her husband was shown a tiny coffin meant to contain the corpse.
But the baby, a girl, had been sold to a couple unable to have children of their own. The child was brought up in Valencia with the name Maria Jesus Cebrian, who began the search for her birth mother 12 years ago.
* * *
It is only the second time campaigners have been able to prove that a baby said to have died at birth was stolen and sold in a network in which doctors, nuns, priests and even undertakers were complicit.
More than 1,000 families have registered with campaign groups and are demanding Spain's attorney general's office to launch a full investigation into a widespread scandal stretching over 40 years. Campaign groups suspect there could be as many as 300,000 cases of baby snatching.
Single mothers, those who already had several children, and mothers of twins were targeted on the basis that they did not deserve or need their babies. It began as a policy during the time of dictator General Francisco Franco and is thought to have continued into the early 1990s.
Still hoping for change
3 days ago