A British mother forced her 14-year-old adopted daughter to inseminate herself with donor sperm to provide a baby for her after she was prevented from adopting any more children.
The case has emerged in a previously secret court judgment, reported yesterday for the first time, which raises questions over loopholes in international adoptions and the regulation of the global traffic in human eggs and sperm.
The daughter, a virgin, is believed to have miscarried at 14, but went on to have a baby at 16 after regularly inseminating herself with sperm bought over the internet by her "domineering" mother because she was too scared to refuse.
The adoptive mother, who cannot be identified to protect her daughter and grandchild, is now serving a five-year jail term after admitting child cruelty. However, the date of the judgement was not reported.
In a high court judgment deciding welfare provisions, family division judge Mr Justice Peter Jackson described "an abiding sense of disbelief that a parent could behave in such a wicked and selfish way towards a vulnerable child".
The mother had already adopted three children as babies from abroad, twice when she was married and once after her divorce. She had chosen not to give birth herself because of a health condition and had undergone an elective sterilisation. But she was distraught when an attempt to adopt a fourth baby was not approved.
The judgment, released after representations from media groups, states the mother immediately turned to her adopted daughter.
The daughter "became pregnant at her mother's request, using donor sperm bought by the mother, with the purposes of providing a fourth child for the mother to bring up as her own. The AI [artificial insemination] was planned when A [the daughter] was 13, began when she was 14 and ended when she became pregnant with D [her child]" aged 16, the judge said.
The truth was only discovered at the birth. Midwives were alarmed at the "pushy and insensitive" mother, who tried to prevent her daughter breastfeeding the newborn, saying "we don't want any of that attachment thing". Noticing the daughter's reluctance to hand the baby to her mother, they called in child protection workers when the mother tried to remove the baby from the ward.
The judge heard there were four occasions when the local authority, which cannot be named, was alerted to the mother's inappropriate behaviour towards her children but did not find cause for concern. A serious case review into the case is due to be published next month. The mother, described as "highly articulate", and who "loves the children and they undoubtedly love her", had isolated the family.
The children were schooled at home, and the adoptive father of the eldest two was deliberately excluded, did not know where they lived and had not seen them for 10 years. Neighbours and social services were kept at bay.
The daughter "allowed her body to be used by her mother because she loves her", and though she did not want to take part, she has said in interviews she was not "brave enough" to tell her mother.
The mother subjected her to a "degrading, humiliating and, on occasions, painful" ordeal. Over two years the girl had to inseminate herself seven times, "alone in her bedroom, using syringes of semen and douches prepared by the mother".
The daughter, who had no friends of her own age, told investigators she was "shocked, pretty shocked" when her mother asked her but also thought, "if I do this ... maybe she will love me more". She also said she wanted her mother to bring up the child.