“I BOUGHT my son Lucas. I paid nearly 3 million pesetas. He was only 18 when he died and I’m convinced that was my punishment for buying him.” This was how 77-year-old Manuel Espi Nacher uncovered another link in the chain of dubious adoptions beginning in the early 40s.
These adoptions continued during 70s and sometimes, as with Manuel Espi and his wife Maria Martinez Lluch, into the Eighties.
Manuel is one of the first adoptive parents to acknowledge that he and his wife “bought” a child after doctors told them they would never children of their own.
The couple lived in Onteniente (Valencia) and unsuccessfully pursued all the legal and illegal avenues to adopt a baby.
But Manuel also had mental health problems – “I was on the verge of suicide,” he admitted – and decided to consult Petra, a faith healer who as well as treating him, helped locate a newborn for them.
In April 1982 Manuel was told to meet a woman at the Virgen del Consuelo hospital in Valencia city. And have “plenty of money” ready.
After handing over 750,000 pesetas he was taken to a ward filled with incubators where a girl aged around 20 handed over Lucas.
The 750,000 pesetas (€4,500) was only the beginning of payments which left Manuel “up to the eyebrows” in debt.
Many of the adoptions now coming to light were connived at by doctors, nurses and nuns but along with the babies they sold into adoption, they also provided the necessary legal documents.
Manuel admitted knowing that he and his wife were involved in an illegal transaction lacking documentation to back up the adoption. Later summoned to a lawyer’s office near the hospital he had to hand over more money in exchange for not being reported to the authorities.
In all, Manuel and Maria paid 3 million pesetas (€18,000) for Lucas who, tragically died in a fire when he was 18. “Lucas died because we didn’t deserve him,” laments a still remorseful Manuel.