“I defended Sister María. Now I don’t know what to believe”

Adoptive father of Pilar Alcalde, supposedly taken from her mother, testifies in court

Nun accused of organizing the illegal adoption issues statement denying guilt

Alejandro Alcalde speaks to the press outside court on Friday. / El País

In an ongoing investigation into alleged baby-snatching in Madrid, the adoptive father of Pilar Alcalde, who was supposedly taken from her mother at birth by Sister María Gómez Valbuena, testified in court on Friday.

The day before, Gómez had refused to answer the judge’s questions. Alejandro Alcalde, who with his then-wife Juana Antonia adopted Pilar from Sister María in 1982, denied he had bought the child but said that a total of 100,000 pesetas had been spent on administrative, personal and medical matters. “I didn’t buy a child. I have kept all the bills and I will show them to the judge.”

Alcalde said Gómez had told him that Pilar’s biological mother was “a young girl who did not have the means to look after her.”

“The first time we went to see her she made it very difficult for us. She asked for all sorts of details. She asked if we were Catholics, she told me to bring proof that I worked where I said I worked and earned what I said I earned,” Alcalde told the court. “I remember a report coming out in 1981 about baby-trafficking. I fought against everybody in defense of Sister María. I was convinced it was all a lie. Now I don’t know what to believe.”

Alcalde said that he would take Pilar to visit the nun every year, something that continued until the girl was 15 and started asking questions about her real mother. “Why do you want to find your mother?” Sister María asked. “She may be involved in drugs, or be a prostitute, and she probably won’t want anything to do with you.”

The visits ceased soon after. “The last time I saw Sister María was three years ago,” said Alcalde. “I had been diagnosed with a disease and I desperately wanted to get to the bottom of this. She gave me a fake clue, saying the mother might be in Málaga and that she wouldn’t see me again.”

Although she was silent in court, Gómez released an open letter on Thursday claiming all the allegations were false.

“I have dedicated my life to helping those in need selflessly as a way of making my deepest religious convictions real,” part of her statement read.

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