North East Labour MEP Jude Kirton-Darling is today leading a delegation of Members of the European Parliament's Petitions Committee in Madrid as they seek to find out answers to what has happened to the thousands of babies thought to have been taken at birth for adoption.
Jude's interest in the issue began when UK citizen Ruth Anne Appleby, raised her case via petition to the Parliament. At a meeting with Jude, Ruth explained that in 1992 she was living in La Coruña, Spain when she gave birth to her first baby. Rather than celebrating the happy occasion, her world was turned upside down when only hours after the birth the nurses informed her that her baby, Rebecca, had died. Owing to their grief and Ruth’s condition, neither she nor or husband attended the hastily arranged “funeral” by the authorities. But doubts about the official story always lingered.
In 2010, Ruth decided to move back to the UK and arranged for Rebecca’s remains to be cremated to bring them back to England to be closer to her. However, when the remains were exhumed and the coffin opened it was clear that the remains were not those of a newborn child. They appeared to be of a much older infant. Since then Ruth has faced an uphill struggle to find out the truth. It was going to be extremely difficult to force the state to investigate historical abuses, something it has been reluctant to do in general, especially regarding matters related to the Franco era, or to force the church to reveal its own records that may show information about unauthorised adoptions and a child’s true origins. Finally Ruth petitioned the Parliament.
It was the last place that Ruth and five other petitioners (representing dozens of families) felt they could go to get a fair hearing, and importantly take some action to shine a light onto a subject that has been hidden for decades by powerful vested interests. Opening up the Church’s archives is their key demand.
This heartbreaking story was one that affected all MEPs deeply. As a result of their testimonies, the Petitions Committee decided that we should take up their call for help. As a result, a 'Fact Finding Visit’ is taking place today, which will hear testimony from representatives of the state, lawyers, journalists, victims (both mothers and stolen children) and crucially the Catholic Church. Jude is proud to lead the visit and hopes she can contribute to help reveal the truth about these precious stolen babies, an issue that that reaches beyond Spain’s borders.