Child taken for being breastfed .

Charlie - posted on 06/11/2011 ( 26 moms have responded )




Nine days ago, on May 31st, a Morrocan mother known as Habiba had her child taken away from her without her consent, allegedly because she breastfed her child on demand. Due to her dire financial situation, Habiba had been living with her 15 month old daughter in a women's shelter in Madrid (Instituto Madrileño del Menor y la Familia- IMMF-, which roughly translates to Madrid's Family and Children's Institute).

In later declarations and radio interviews, Nacho de la Mata, her lawyer, informed the media that Habiba had left her child at the facility's daycare center as usual, and that the child was taken away immediately from there. She was then notified that she could no longer live at the shelter, for this facility only took on the care of mothers and she no longer had a child.

Fundación Raíces, a humanitarian organization, immediately took on Habiba's care, providing psychiatric evaluations, performed by well know birth rights activist and author Dr. Ibone Olza, along with legal services, healthcare and financial aid.

According to anonymous information released in the press, supposedly coming from the IMMF, Habiba's child was taken away from her due to her failure to comply to the center's "Psychotherapy and Maternal Habilities Program", allegedly because she was "a violent person", although there are no records of this alleged violence.

Dr. Olza, the psychiatrist who evaluated Habiba, as well as a psychologist, whose name has not yet been released coincide in their impressions on Habiba:

"I'm under the impression that [Habiba] is a sensible and loving mother, with a healthy attachment to her child."

"It is obvious that this separation is highly stressful for the nursling and I can easily predict oncoming symptoms of psychic distress if the physical and emotional bond with her mother is not immediately restored"

"Based on Habiba's thorough psychiatric evaluation I have reached the conclusion that this woman does not suffer from psychiatric disorders nor does she have a drug habit. In my opinion, she is a very capable, loving woman who is now suffering enormously from having been abruptly separated from her child."

"As a child psychiatrist, I know that suddenly separating a fifteen month old child from her mother, transfering her to a government facility with no one the child is familiar with present, causes great damage that could have enduring psychological consequences, if not reunited as soon as possible."

Habiba is not only suffering emotionally but also physically. The day Dr. Olza took on her care, she was suffering from engorgement and was on the edge of developing mastitis. Dr. Olza helped Habiba express her milk and took a half liter of breastmilk to the IMMF. After a lot of persuasion, and arguments about how it would be a crime to waste this mothers "liquid gold", the IMMF accepted the milk although that poses no guarantee upon the child ever being fed it, as Breastfeeding is strictly forbidden in all child welfare group homes.

This news appears to contradict the strong support of breastfeeding in Madrid's breastfeeding and parent-child bonding programs for health professionals. Thus the IMMF's attitude on breastfeeding, and their opinion on it, calling it "chaotic and damaging to children" has caused great alarm among mothers everywhere, not only the breastfeeding community. According to declarations in the newspaper, allegedly coming on behalf of the IMMF, the reason for separating mother and child has nothing to do with their breastfeeding relationship, yet after saying that the child was removed from her mother's care "temporarily and the case would be reevaluated", they warned Habiba beforehand that nursing her child during their one hour weekly visit was absolutely forbidden supposedly because "it would be contrary to the child's institutionalization".

On Saturday June 4th, Dr. Olza decided to seek public support for Habiba's case, and started a Facebook Group called Que el IMMF permita que Habiba amamante a su niña YA (IMMF please allow Habiba to breastfeed her child right now). In less than 24 hours, the group grew to over 2000 members, and currently has over 3500 (and continues growing by the minute).

Yesterday, Habiba was allowed to visit her child, for only an hour. After nine days of being apart, they were reunited for only sixty minutes.

Since information on this case became public, other similar cases of women being forced to wean their children upon threats of their custody being taken over by the state have been brought to light. A public petition in Spanish was signed by over 3500 people, and another 5200 have sent personal letters to the IMMF and other Spanish authorities, as well as Save the Children, Amnesty International and other NGOs to express their support for Habiba and request her to be reunited with her child as soon as possible.

This morning, a Spanish newspaper published further declarations by Dr. Olza about Habiba's impression upon meeting her child briefly yesterday:

"My little girl is no longer the child I knew, at first she wouldn't even look at me... she has lost half a kilo, she looks very thin, this is not proper childcare, she had circles under her eyes, she started crying as soon as I picked her up but then she would stop immediately as if she didn't have the physical strength to cry any longer, she didn't seem like my daughter, she looked like a dead child, a doll".

Dr. Olza explained to the Spanish authorities that the child's reaction was perfectly predictable under the circumstances:

"She wouldn't look her in the face, she looked at her as though she was a complete stranger, not wanting to go near her, [another possible reaction could have been] the contrary, not wanting to let go of her mother afterwards."

"... it was absolutely predictable that the child wouldn't seem happy upon seeing her mother given the circumstances," which is something that an untrained observer could [but should not] interpret as "the child not loving her mother, or that [Habiba] was not a good parent".

"On the contrary, the fact that she reacted this way is proof that the child has suffered enormously from this deep feeling of abandonment"

Not only has the child been traumatically separated from her mother, but there also aren't sufficient caregivers to provide children with the nurturing that they need. After visiting the shelter at which Habiba's baby is being held, Fundación Raíces told the press that during night shifts, there are only two caregivers for 42 children under the age of six.

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What do you think ?


Dana - posted on 06/11/2011




I'm confused. Where, besides the title of this thread, does it say that the child was taken for being breastfed? It seems like there are parts missing from this story.

Johnny - posted on 06/11/2011




If it is true that they try to force mothers to wean, then it is terrible and I'm quite upset. However, I was unable to find any suggestion anywhere after a fairly extensive google search with the assistance of my Spanish speaking neighbor (because Google translate just ain't that great) any sign that there is a history of forced weaning by this organization or that other mothers have complained of experiencing this problem.

Tara - posted on 06/11/2011




What I think?
I think the world needs to stand up for this woman and demand the return of her child into her custody and demand sweeping changes to the IMMF.
Disgusts me to no end to read about this kind of stuff. That poor little girl, the separation, the anxiety, the HUGE and sudden onset of massive amounts of cortisol flooding her little system, day in and day out... it's going to have lasting effects, forever. poor baby.


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Isobel - posted on 06/20/2011




why? because she's accused of being violent...or crazy? I sincerely doubt that a child has been removed by ANYBODY for breastfeeding. Sorry.

Dana - posted on 06/12/2011




Ashley there seems to be no evidence of anything, one way or the other. So, can we really blame the shelter when the full story isn't here?

[deleted account]

They only had the right to take the child if the mother was not fit to care for her.If the child was in danger from being with the mother.The mother was in a shelter and obviously being cared for as in roof over her head and food etc.She could care for her baby etc in this setting.

So then it would mean they felt the mother was mentally unstable to care for the child.Although there is no evidence of the mother being mentally unstable etc.So something is wrong big time.Its not the mother, its the shelter.Someone is doing something wrong and causing this heartbreaking mess for no reason.Going from what i have read so far.

She should be seen by a medical team to say whether she is fit to care for her child.If cleared, which i feel she will be,She should then be allowed to care for her baby .

Can she not express her milk in the mean time to at least make sure her baby girl is getting her nutrients.

So upsetting, really is.Forcing her to wean, i mean is not acceptable.If the took her baby just for this..i hope they get whats coming to them.I think the did.There trying to cover it up by making out she was not doing what she should to help her not be a "violent person".

Johnny - posted on 06/11/2011




"IMMF response (Madrid Institute for Children and Families) to all who have posted about the case Habiba

June 8, 2011 by elblogdesina

Dear Madam:

Regarding your email recently addressed this Madrid Institute for Children and the Family in collecting certain inaccurate information, we want to express that in order to safeguard the privacy of parents and the child, do not provide any information about the personal circumstances and relatives of the child.

However, if we reply to his communication to the extent that contains several allegations which, if any, correspond to the modus operandi of this body or general protocol level, nor of individual cases.

The actions of this public entity in relation to the protection of children is regulated in the Civil Code and is linked, as necessary and, at all times, to protect the minor.
The measure of protection is linked solely to the inability of parents to provide the necessary moral and material assistance to their children.

In each case is to analyze the proper exercise of parental duties and removal of protection is always justified by social reporting done by professionals in health and social services who have worked directly with parents.

Never made the guardianship feeding patterns that are legitimate.
We are fully aware that the decision of administrative supervision is complex and delicate. Therefore, all activities take place with utmost, in close collaboration with parents whenever possible and, in the exclusive interests of the child.

We wish to state that the Community of Madrid and, in particular, the Madrid Institute for Children and Families, in any prohibited or vetoes mothers the option of breastfeeding. Rather, in recent years, the Institute has pursued many different homes in order for mothers with babies in charge may choose to breast feed, unless it was contraindicated for any factor relating to health the mother or child.

In all cases, work with family is a priority and it receives at all times the care you need, making available all existing services. The objective is to solve the specific family situation that allows parents to look after their children properly, since there is no greater objective than the children living in their home environment.


Madrid Institute for Children and Families
C / Gran Vía, 14
28013 Madrid "

Dana - posted on 06/11/2011




I know, Dyan. It's really unclear what the reason was in the first place. I wish there were more answers here. I suppose I should try and google it and see what I find. I've just been busy today.

Rosie - posted on 06/11/2011




i'm not even understanding why the baby was taken away? this pisses me right the fuck off. it makes me soooo sad. that poor baby and that poor mother. sigh...

[deleted account]

On the verge of tears here. All I can think of is what that would do to my little girl. I have no words.

[deleted account]

That poor baby! This entire story thoroughly disgusts me. I hope that woman gets her child back asap!!!

[deleted account]

By god i would not rest if i were this mother.This is not acceptable.I hope the look into this thoroughly and get mother&baby back together.If its really true the mother is loving and capable of caring for baby.

Sounds to be there making the mother pay for there own personal feelings about breast feeding.Not on, i would fight tooth and nail for my kids and i hope this mother does to.I hope she makes her voice heard.Which i am sure she is.:-(

Gina - posted on 06/11/2011




I'm not sure I understand, why the hell did they do this? What do they have against breast feeding? The poor mother and poor poor baby.It's disgusting.

Becky - posted on 06/11/2011




This phrase, "they warned Habiba beforehand that nursing her child during their one hour weekly visit was absolutely forbidden supposedly because "it would be contrary to the child's institutionalization" made me sick to my stomach. Why oh why oh why would you ever want to institutionalize a 15 month old child?? This whole story makes me sick. I really hope they have a valid reason for doing the kind of damage they are doing to this baby and her mother, but it certainly doesn't sound like they do! So awful!


Kate CP - posted on 06/11/2011




I'm enraged. I'm on the edge of tears. I feel so badly for that baby and her mother.

[deleted account]

I don't know what to think. I've kept up with this story as best I can (most of the articles are in Spanish...which I do not speak). Part of me hopes there is much more to this there are issues with the mother...but it seems like that would have been revealed already. They came out and said she was violent, but there is no proof of that. It seems like they really did take this child because she was breastfeeding and that makes me angry...more than angry...there's no word to describe it.

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 06/11/2011




Sounds like a human rights issue to me. Here in the STates as well as in Canada breastfeeding moms have their rights protected even in women's shelters shouldn't it be the same in Europe?

Kellie - posted on 06/11/2011




Wow. The Human race never ceases to amaze me. And we're the Superior Species?

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