This horrific story raises many questions related to international adoptions and the availability of donor sperm online both topics that are certainly very relevant to this blog. Above all, I'm shocked by these very sad events and couldn't just ignore what happened.
An American living in the United Kindgom adopted three children through international adoption two while married to her Irish husband, and one as a single parent after she got divorced. She kept her location secret from her ex, who did not have the chance to see his adoptive kids for a decade, and was denied the chance to adopt again following concerns about her parenting methods. Child welfare agencies had been involved three times, after neighbors and doctors reported worrying behaviors. The adoptive mother, whose identity is not being revealed for safety reasons, really wanted another child a girl and came up with the crazy idea to make her adoptive daughter inseminate herself with frozen sperm bought online.
The woman, who definitely does not deserve the title "mother", revealed her plans to her adoptive daughter when she was only 13. After she was turned down for adoption, this was "her only chance to become a mother again", as she had undergone a voluntary sterilization to avoid passing her diabetes on. The adoptive daughter said she was initially shocked when her mother asked her to become pregnant, but agreed out of fear and love. She was under the impression that her mother would love her more if she bore a child for her, and also says it was a way for her to express gratitude for being adopted.
The girl, only known as "A", told the High Court in the UK: "Mum said to me, 'A, the only way I can have a fourth child is for you to get pregnant'. I was shocked, pretty shocked at first. And then I suddenly thought, 'Maybe if I do this then everything will be over. Mum will be happy like she was before'. And I also thought from a selfish point of view, 'If I do this?.?.?. maybe she will love me more'." Wow. It's been a long time since I've heard something that sick, and I'm sure you feel the same way. The adoptive mother first started ordering frozen sperm from Denmark-based sperm bank Cryos (who were not available for comments when the press contacted them, surprise, surprise) when A was 14 years old.
She apparently had a miscarriage at that age. A's adoptive mom filled syringes with the donor sperm she had ordered, and also subjected her to acidic douches with vinegar and lemon juice. The crazy adoptive mom was under the impression this would increase the chances that A would have a girl. In the end, A gave birth to a baby boy when she was 16. She told healthcare providers that she got pregnant in a one-night stand and that she wanted her mother to raise the baby. After she gave birth, she became reluctant to give her baby son away. That's when nurses became concerned.
The adoptive mother was quoted as saying that "she didn't want any of this attachment thing" when A wanted to breastfeed her baby. A later confided in a family friend as well. The adoptive mother is serving a five-year prison sentence for child cruelty toward A and one of her other children, whom she had apparently tied down to a chair to force her to sit still. A and her toddler are being taken care of within the foster care system.
Online sperm banks where are the checks and balances?
Who can order sperm online? In the UK, it is possible for private people to use online sperm banks such as Cryos but online if the request is signed off by a doctor. In this case, the adoptive mother had forged a signature and produced a fake document. This got through without problems, and the momster received 21 vials of anonymous donor sperm. A DNA test confirmed that one of Cryos International's donors was the biological father of the conceived child, after the adoptive mother claimed the daughter was mentally unstable and making the story up.
There are many ethical problems with treating donor sperm as a commodity anyone can purchase, and this case probably shows the worst possible scenario. Cryos International ships to 70 different countries, and there are other banks that function in much the same way. The international nature of these businesses makes regulation difficult. The adoptive mother is now serving a well-deserved prison sentence, but I truly hope some good will come out of this case and that it will trigger a debate about international regulations for sperm banks.