The first woman to be recognised by the Spanish courts as a ‘stolen baby’ has located her biological family through a DNA bank.
Thanks to US company 23andMe, Inés Madrigal was put in touch with a second cousin following a saliva swab designed for testing ancestry and health-related concerns.
Madrigal, 50, was then reunited with her three biological brothers after 32 years of searching.
The Madrid-born Madrigal was involved in Spain’s first-ever ‘stolen baby’ trial, for which 83-year-old doctor Eduardo Vela was convicted in 2018 of child abduction, faking a birth and falsifying Madrigal’s childbirth records some 50 years previously.
The case has wider implications for an estimated 300,000 babies who were snatched in a scandal that began under the Franco dictatorship and continued until the 1990s.
Doctors and nuns would tell single or impoverished mothers their children had died – meanwhile giving them away to other, often wealthy, families who were unable to conceive.
Many times the victimised families were identified as Republicans by the ruling authorities, according to the BBC.
In 2012, after receiving a class action lawsuit from more than 250 families, the Spanish Attorney General’s Office summed up the supposed modus operandi of the network: “It consisted, essentially, in informing the mother and the family members of the newborn that the child had died.
“The hospital would offer to take care of the remains. That minor was then handed over to other people.”
At a press conference in Madrid on Thursday, Madrigal described finding her ‘true family’ as a ‘triumph’.
The good news was tinged with sadness, however, as she discovered that her biological mother died in 2013 at the age of 73.
But the new family connection has further legal implications.
In 2018, Doctor Vela was acquitted of his crimes over Madrigal’s forced adoption as she had taken too long to complain, the court ruled.
Madrigal told reporters on Thursday, however, that this new information on her long-lost family has spurred prosecutors on to overturn the prior ruling on Vela’s crimes.
An appeal to the Supreme Court is expected to ensue.