Ruth Diaz Madrid


Updated Saturday, March 2, 2024-00:04

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have been raising a baby continuously under their own roof

for nine years .

"With two days, three days, 4 months, 7 months as in the case now, or 2 years we had once."

Nine years

, of welcomes - "of excitement and excitement" - and farewells - very bitter, although they were "silent" -, in a start over with hardly any rest - and not counting his three own children -, of bottles, diapers, crawling, babbling, pediatricians, children's games, crying at night, crying because of hunger, crying to pick them up, crying... because they are babies.

Although those who cradle this couple from

Las Rozas

do not start from a common childhood.

There are cries that are a consequence of the withdrawal syndrome.

That's where these babies come from, or other misfortunes.



They need a lot of human contact, a lot of feeling that you are there.

And that doesn't mean that there are times when you lose patience, because, of course, a child crying in your ear all day, there is a moment when you say: 'Why would I have gotten myself into this?'.


We have asked ourselves that a lot of times.



But we are already going for number 14, because it is engaging.


When you see all the situations that exist as children, you say: 'How do I stop?'

If I can get someone else out of the [protection] center, who can take care of him for the problems his family is having... well, you can't leave him anymore.

I will stop when it is totally impossible, because I get sick or I am too old.


Or when I no longer have the itch of 'when will another one come?'

or 'what will it be like?'... That illusion.

Because, apart from patience, you have to have a lot of enthusiasm to do it.

This emergency foster family for minors in the Community of Madrid is as persevering as the tides.

So much so that they have already cared for 14 babies.

And although there are those who have told them that they are "crazy" in the face of this endless upbringing, they firmly defend: "It's worth it."

Despite the typical renunciations of motherhood or fatherhood or the fact that they cannot travel outside of Spain since they made this decision to be a refuge


they do not hesitate:

"What we want is to continue, to help, as much as we can, as far as we can,"

he says. Octavio, and Elena adds: "It means approaching life in a different way, and that's it."

Approximately every six months - except on one occasion, when they took care of a girl for two years due to bureaucratic delays with the country of origin, Holland -, they are required by the

General Directorate of Children, Family and Birth Promotion

to give shelter, feed, educate, care for and pamper, as one more of their progeny, a child under six years of age whose biological parents cannot take care of them and who has passed under the guardianship of the CAM.

This is the case of the current baby, who crawls incessantly and smiles with curiosity during his visit to GRAN MADRID.

«When you stay on guard, because the child has already gone with a permanent foster family or with his or her original family, they

can call you at any time


There have been times when we left a child one day and, the next, at 11 a.m., we were already going to get another one.

Being an emergency foster family, say this 47-year-old housewife and this 52-year-old BBVA employee, it is necessary that at least one of the couple works alone at home.

«It takes exclusive dedication.

It would not make sense, if we both worked outside, for the child to be in a daycare.

It would be almost like a center.

In addition,

they need more attachment

, more to feel that you have them in your arms, that they are not lost there.

The same current baby, they say, who arrived from the center "with very good food, care, they are treated very well," was missing the fundamental thing: "Affection."

When she woke up, she didn't even cry and she stayed silent in her crib, with "the pattern of falling asleep alone."

Now, she "has already learned, she even has



According to data from the regional government,

nearly 4,000 minors

have some form of protection in Madrid, of which 40% live in centers or residences and 60% in families like Elena and Octavio's, who have provided services as volunteers at the Manuel de Falla headquarters and meet the requirements of

Law 4/2023

on Rights, Guarantees and Comprehensive Protection of Children and Adolescents.

"Now there is a

preparatory course

, but we didn't have to do anything then because we were the only ones who were willing," they say of their beginnings.

"The Community gives a subsidy and on that side there is no problem."

Octavio and Elena play with the baby they welcome into their home.ÁNGEL NAVARRETE

From time to time, they must take the baby to Manuel de Falla, so that their biological parents can spend time with their children, and they receive psycho-pedagogical support periodically.

Of these families registered in Madrid, 1,180 are of a general nature, while 242 are dedicated to children with special difficulties and 31 are urgent, like Elena and Octavio.

Although, the

Ministry of Family, Youth and Social Affairs

asserts , "there is always a need for more."

In fact, since January it has allocated 30% more aid per month per minor taken in, so the amount for emergency cases has increased from 1,200 euros to 1,600.

«We encourage other families.

I understand that it is difficult, but what you give them is much less than what you receive," says this couple from Las Rozas, with that experience of 14


babies in nine years, in parallel to raising their own biologically, 22

, 19 and 13 years old

, who share the same passion.

Elena relates that she was walking with her two daughters a few days ago through a shopping area and they were all enthralled with any tadpole.

The moment came when Elena joked: «Do you realize?

"I think we are sick."

His domestic album accumulates family stories of all uniqueness, and also of pain.

«We had a girl with withdrawal syndrome, because her mother was a drug addict.

And she cried a lot, non-stop, for no apparent reason, for an hour, you couldn't calm her down with anything


Her mother said no, but she breastfed her while she had her and the girl went through abstinence here," she recalls.

With another it was the opposite: «

Her mother had taken bendodiazepine during pregnancy

and she was very, very calm, too much.

We had to activate it because during the first months she slept almost all the time.

Her parental learning is exceptional: "We have had children who, when we approached Gran Vía, because before it was there [the General Directorate for visits with parents], they began to cry like beasts.

He was a mathematician.

I'm talking to you about 5 or 6 months.

She had never lived with her mother.

She had mental problems but she was very docile, and the girl was calm.

But she always had that initial rejection.

The psychologist told me that they feel rejection from the belly


Although the most complex thing is the goodbyes, after the visits and the adaptation to the definitive family.

"You're starting to get quiet, of course."

Octavio acknowledges: "For me the hardest situation was the first one."

Tercia Elena: «With a Romanian girl whose poor parents had left her because they lived on scrap metal, in a shanty in Chamartín, without water or electricity, which they then demolished the town.

"They collected their money to return to


, it was found that they had a house there, and we left the girl at the station with her parents, who she did not know."

Immediately, Octavio dedicated himself to following the return by bus on the web:

«It was winter and they spent two days traveling, to a city that they had to cross the Carpathians and I saw that the temperature was -30ºC.

I had a regular few days

. "

His greatest fear is caused by the uncertainty about the baby's final destination: "If he goes with a permanent family, you are uneasy until you meet him and see his expectations.

Then they send you photos of the girl and you say: 'But she is super happy' », they explain.


In the farewell you say: 'But what a need to go through this suffering.

Then you see them so well that the feeling is of

mission accomplished




You have to see it as a victory.

They already have 14. He concludes: "I don't care if they tell me I'm crazy."


4,000 MINORS.

The regional government provides some type of protection to all these children.


This is the number of those they receive urgently, registered by the Community of Madrid.


General foster families receive this help for each child for their maintenance.