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First Spanish “Stolen Baby” Reunited With Family Through DNA Bank

Inés Madrigal has located her biological family 32 years after she was taken from them. She is the first woman to be officially recognized by the Spanish courts as a “stolen baby,” and she was able to find her blood relatives through DNA testing services in the US. With her success, other “stolen babies” have hope that they can finally be reunited with their biological families.

Under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, many infants were taken illegally from their mothers to be given to richer families who couldn’t have children. The practice was aided by the Catholic Church, as nuns and doctors helped deliver babies in certain hospitals. Mothers were told that their children have died, but were actually given to another family. The real, accurate number is still unknown, but it is estimated that around 300,000 babies could’ve been taken from their biological mothers at the time.

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In 1969, Madrigal was born in Clínica San Ramón in Madrid, and she was given as a gift to Inés Pérez by the Doctor Vela. When she turned 18, her parents revealed to her that she was adopted, and in 2010, they admitted the truth of the process of her adoption. Last year, she took a DNA test with the US-based company, 23andMe, to get a genetic analysis. The results revealed that she still has relatives living in Spain, so she went to reunite with her biological siblings through that relative’s help.

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Her story is helping the courts prosecute those who were perpetrating the crime. Last October, the Madrid Provincial Court handled a case involving Eduardo Vela, a retired doctor who is accused of child abduction, faking a birth, and falsifying childbirth records. Madrigal’s mother’s testimony before she died in 2013 was used as evidence to prosecute Dr. Vela for his crimes. However, due to the statute of limitations, the courts were not able to punish him, as the time has expired.

The Supreme Court’s case on the issue is still predicted to go ahead, so those who were involved in the stolen babies scandal could still be prosecuted. Thanks to modern technology, the victims can use the DNA services to trace and locate their existing blood-relatives in order to find their biological families. After years of being apart, some families can finally be reunited after one of them was stolen from them.

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