This deeply distressing moment took the internet by storm. In the horrifying video, we can see a tearful poverty-stricken 25-year-old mother handing over her newborn baby forever, for around $45. The middle-aged woman, who paid the money, is a teacher who wanted to raise one more child.
We can see on the CCTV footage that the distraught mother named as Inna Petrova is holding her nine-day-old daughter at Omsk airport in Russia, counting every last precious second she is with her tiny newborn girl.
Petrova, an unemployed painter, turns her back on Natalia Zhbanova, 43, at one point. Zhbanova has flown 1,970 miles from St Petersburg to collect the baby. The young mother kisses her baby for the last time, and hands her over to Zhbanova.
The teacher then used a faked birth certificate, which lists the baby as hers, and shows it to the airport security before flying back to her home city along with the nine-day-old baby.
Petrova later said that she was ‘hysterical’ for giving away her child, and she is seen wiping tears from her eyes in the video.
The CCTV footage was released by the Investigative Committee, which probes serious crimes in Russia. The mother now admits that she was wrong and she says that she wishes she could wind back the clock.
Zhbanova had sent Inna a payment of 3,000 roubles (just $45) ahead of the child’s birth.
Both women have been formally detained at the moment, and a criminal probe is launched under Russia’s child trafficking laws. They could each face up to ten years in jail.
According to the investigators, Zhbanova was ‘desperate’ to raise another child, as she is already bringing up an adopted daughter, but she was afraid that she will have to live in an ’empty nest’.
She even went on to post an online ad, saying:
“Hi everyone! My husband and I would very much like to get a baby aged 0 to 3 months. All the documents for adoption are ready. Please send a private message for details. Girls, darlings, please help.”
Petrova was pregnant with a man she met at a local cafe and had a short relationship with, and she replied to Zhdanova’s message:
“Hello, I would like my daughter to be adopted. Please do so, I am not able to raise her, no chance.”
Petrova later told the police that she was living with her mother and sister in a tiny apartment, and the two other women were furious when she became pregnant.
They were determined that she should not keep the baby.
Vasily Gumenyuk, an Omsk prosecutor, said:
“During our interrogation, the biological mother of the baby explained that she lived in a rented apartment with her mother and sister.
Both were strongly against the baby and put strong psychological pressure on the future mother.
The young woman failed to get a job, and she was not married to the father of her baby.
He knew about her pregnancy but did not plan to support her.
She decided to give away the baby to the teacher from St Petersburg.”
The baby deal would have remained secret if Petrova and her mother did not tell their landlady about it, and she informed the police immediately. One week after the airport exchange, officers knocked on Zhdanova’s door in St Petersburg.
Petrova told the police:
“All the way through my pregnancy, my mother and sister were attacking me.
They wanted me to have an abortion.
My mother threatened me, saying ‘If you give birth, just don’t come back home, I won’t let you in!’
She said: ‘They told me a baby is not a toy.’
I posted in the social network that I needed help and Natalia Zhdanova replied.”
Zhdanova paid Petrova 3,000 roubles in advance allegedly to cover the cost of nappies, and she also promised to help her and her family find jobs in St Petersburg.
Speaking about the moment she handed over the child, Petrova said:
“Of course it was hard. I was in hysterics in the airport when it happened. But Natalia’s return flight has already been announced, I had to give her my daughter so (she and her friend) could catch their plane.
My daughter was nine days old. I would have given her away earlier but we stayed in the hospital for a week, and then we lived at home for several days, but it was just impossible to be there because of constant scandals.”
She adds that the father of the baby was not interested before the story became known, but now he says that he will take care of the baby if she gives it to him.
“But he is not serious. He is 23, there are no babies in his life plans.
There was no way out for me. Most likely, I will never see my baby again… If only could I go back over everything, I would not have given her away.”
The baby is most likely to be put in an orphanage.