Mother and child fashion
I thought, if I did this, my mum would love me more: The wicked mother so desperate for another child she inseminated her 14-year-old daughter
- 'Wicked and selfish' mother forced her daughter to inseminate herself
- Adopted virgin girl 'miscarried' at 14 but later had a baby aged 16
- Mother who adopted three children jailed for five years for child cruelty
- Girl and her baby later placed in foster care following court proceedings
- Mother abused another daughter, pouring water over her head, court hears
- Social workers warned about family but never found cause for concern
Published: 10:27 BST, 29 April 2013 | Updated: 15:49 BST, 5 June 2013
The girl at the centre of the child cruelty trial told the High Court she went along with her mother’s shocking attempts to get her pregnant because she thought: ‘If I do this . . . maybe she will love me more.’
The girl had been adopted as a baby and raised in a ‘toxic cocoon’ of her mother’s making – an atmosphere of intimidation and disapproval behind the closed curtains of their terrace house.
Despite the bullying and coercion, the girl remained pathetically devoted to her adopted mother and obeyed her commands, driven by a powerful mix of fear and love.
Authorities missed four significant opportunities which may have prevented a woman from forcing her adopted daughter to impregnate herself with sperm bought on the internet
In a moment of unbearable poignancy the girl, known only as A, told how she had gone along with her mother’s plans to win the woman’s affection.
She told the High Court: ‘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”.’
A was only 13 when her mother revealed her plans, and just 14 when the humiliating and painful ordeal of the insemination ‘programme’ began.
In March 2009, aged 15 and having already suffered a miscarriage, she sent a Mother’s Day card. The girl wrote: ‘Happy Mother’s Day List (the things I cannot give you but would if I could).’
She stuck photographs of her mother’s favourite singers and television programmes on the card.
Below them, next to a photograph of a positive pregnancy test, she wrote: ‘And the one thing that I can. And will.’ Remarkably, A told the court hearing she was grateful to her mother for adopting her and her sisters, saying: ‘My mum has done as much as she could to give us a good and happy life.’
But Mr Justice Jackson heard the mother had excluded her ex-husband from her daughters’ life and had schooled them at home, leaving them isolated from the world outside.
She could be ‘critical, rigid, suspicious and obsessive’, the judge said, adding: ‘For the children, who love her deeply, the threat of her disapproval is always in the air.’
Eldest daughter A in particular had coped with her domineering mother by becoming submissive to her, even dropping her voice so she could barely be heard.
Neighbours said she was so quiet and timid that they had wondered if she had a ‘vocal disability’. Remarkably, it was only by becoming a mother herself that A found the strength to stand up to the maternal bullying she had suffered.
Midwives noticed that she refused to hand her baby son to her mother, and she rejected the woman’s demands that she call him Kalei, instead choosing a traditional English name.
Astonished: Family judge Mr Justice Jackson expressed his 'abiding sense of disbelief' in a High Court judgement
Fears for her son’s wellbeing finally drove her to confide in a family friend, an act of courage and defiance she had been unable to make on her own behalf.
A, now 19 and living in a foster home with her toddler son, told the court: ‘I was scared to go home, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to raise him as my child and I was scared at how my mum might raise him.’
Her mother, an educated and highly articulate woman, also gave the teenager recordings to listen to which contained subliminal messages, saying: ‘I am going to conceive a girl.’
The girl, who was adopted, had not wanted to become pregnant but was terrified of jeopardising hermother’s love for her.
The plan fell apart after the girl gave birth to a boy and midwives at the hospital became suspiciousof her mother’s ‘pushy and insensitive’ behaviour towards her and the baby, and raised the alarm.
The Daily Mail can reveal that social workers were warned three times about the mother, but decided her children were not at risk. On one occasion a social worker closed the case after speaking to the mother on the telephone, without even visiting the family’s home or seeing the children.
The mother, a 48-year-old former nanny, was jailed for five years for bullying her daughter into the surrogate pregnancy plan and for cruelty towards another of her adopted children.
The case raises worrying questions about the regulation of adoptions from abroad and the sale of donor sperm over the internet.
The High Court case was heard in secret but can be reported following a legal challenge by media groups.
Family Division judge Mr Justice Jackson said he felt ‘an abiding sense of disbelief that a parent could behave in such a wicked and selfish way towards a vulnerable child’.
The court heard the American-born mother, who cannot be named to protect the identities of her three adopted children and her grandson – the child born to her daughter, chose to be sterilised in 2001 so she did not pass her diabetes on to any children.
The case was heard in the High Court but reporting restrictions prevent the naming of the family, the local authority and the area they lived in
Instead, she adopted three daughters as babies from foreign orphanages and foster homes, two while married to an Irish man and a third as a single parent, and raised them in Britain.
She was banned from adopting more children but longed for another child, and forced her eldest daughter to conceive.
She told the girl about her plans when her daughter was only 13, and the two-year insemination ‘programme’ began when the teenager – identified in legal documents only as A – was 14.
The judge said: ‘A did not want to take part in the programme, but she allowed her body to be used by her mother because she loves her.
‘A’s participation in the programme caused her continuous anxiety. The physical steps that the mother asked her to take were degrading, humiliating and, on occasions, painful.’
The mother bought frozen sperm over the internet and prepared syringes full of it for her daughter to use to inseminate herself.
She was desperate that any resulting baby should be a girl, and forced her daughter to follow a special diet of dairy and alkaline foods in the belief this would affect the gender of the child.
In July 2010, the mother wrote an ‘affirmation’ on her computer, setting out her wishes for the future – a lottery win and a healthy baby girl, who she wanted to call Kelia.
She wrote: ‘I desire to win the Thunderball jackpot of £500,000 and for A to conceive and carry Kelia to term for birth in April.’ In October that year, A became pregnant and she gave birth to a son in June 2011, after a difficult labour which left her needing surgery.
Nurses knew she planned to give her baby to her mother to raise, but were worried by her mother’s aggressive behaviour, including a refusal to let A breastfeed her baby, saying: ‘We don’t want any of that attachment thing.’
Midwives raised the alarm when the mother tried to take the newborn baby from the ward, and A later confided in a family friend about her ordeal. All four children were taken into care and the mother was charged with child cruelty.
She initially denied the allegations, accusing her daughter of being a fantasist, and told authorities the girl was mentally ill. She later pleaded guilty to five charges of child cruelty.
The High Court heard she had raised her three adopted daughters in a ‘toxic cocoon’, teaching them at home so they would not go to school and isolating them from friends or neighbours.
When she was 15, A was left alone to look after her youngest sister, then only four or five, while her mother and the middle sister went to the US for a ten-day holiday.
A told the court she had seen her mother smack her youngest sister regularly, and said she had tied the little girl to a chair when she would not sit still and had stuck duct tape over her mouth for answering back.
The court also heard disturbing details about failed attempts to alert social services to the family’s set-up. Neighbours described the mother’s terrace home as like a ‘fortress’, with the curtains always closed and no one allowed inside.
In 2006, a GP neighbour contacted social services, saying she could hear the mother shouting and swearing at her youngest child, who was then two, and said the toddler was left crying for up to two hours at a time.
Social workers investigated and saw all three children and the mother, but decided there was no cause for concern. In January 2007, an anonymous letter was sent to social services and other authorities.
A social worker’s report warned that the mother ‘appears to be doing things secretively for her own gain’, but concluded there was no evidence of ‘significant harm’ to the children, and the case was closed again.
In 2008, the GP made another referral to social services. A third investigation was launched but the case was closed after social workers spoke to the mother on the telephone, without seeing the children or visiting the house.
Mr Justice Jackson said: ‘Between 2006 and 2008, the mother succeeded in keeping social services at arm’s length so that their investigations were essentially superficial.
‘Concerns were seen off by a parent who was recognised to be domineering. The children were never heard.’
The local authority cannot be named for legal reasons but its Local Safeguarding Children Board has launched a serious case review, due to be published next month.
The LSCB said: ‘Nothing can change what has happened to the children in this truly terrible case.
‘It is clear that public bodies must highlight the major public policy issues which arise from this case.’