A judge has branded the actions of a mother 'wicked and selfish' after she forced her 14-year-old adopted daughter to inseminate herself with a donor's sperm to give her mother a baby.
The young girl – who was a virgin – is believed to have endured a miscarriage when she was 14, but eventually had a baby at 16 via sperm her mother bought on the internet.
The court heard that the schoolgirl was too scared to disobey her 'domineering' mother, whose named is not being revealed in order to protect her daughter and grandchild.
The woman is now serving a five-year jail term after admitting child cruelty.
The Guardian reports that the case has only just come to light after previously being dealt with in a secret court judgement. It says it raises 'serious questions over loopholes in international adoptions'.
It was heard that the woman had already adopted three children as babies from abroad. Two of the children were adopted when she was married, and a further one when she was living as a single parent after a divorce.
She was apparently unable to fall pregnant herself because of a health problem, and had had an elective sterilisation.
She was said to be 'distraught' when her attempts at adopting a fourth baby were stopped by the authorities. This caused her, the judgement claimed, to turn to her adopted daughter to provide her with a baby.
The ruling states the girl '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'.
In the high court, Mr Justice Jackson said he had an 'abiding sense of disbelief that a parent could behave in such a wicked and selfish way towards a vulnerable child'.
"The mother resorted to the AI programme (artificial insemination) because she was determined to have a fourth child, and because there was no other way of achieving this," he said.
He said that the girl had been subjected to a 'degrading, humiliating and, on occasions, painful' ordeal which saw her inseminate herself seven times, 'alone in her bedroom, using syringes of semen and douches prepared by the mother'.
The woman had also purchased ovulation-testing equipment to work out when her daughter was most likely to conceive, and because she wanted a girl, forced her daughter to do acidic douches containing vinegar or lemon and lime juice, and eat a special diet.
The teenager, who was said to have no friends of her own age, told the authorities she was 'shocked' when her mum first asked her do do it, but said she thought 'maybe she will love me more' if she agreed.
The story only unfolded when midwives were reportedly alarmed by the 'pushy and insensitive' behaviour of the older woman who said 'we don't want any of that attachment thing' when the girl tried to breastfeed her newborn.
Her care-givers had been told the baby was the result of a one night stand with a boy who abandoned her and was now abroad. The young mum told the health professionals caring for her that she wanted her mother to bring up the child.
However, nursing staff noted the teenager's reluctance to hand the baby over to her mother, and eventually called in child protection officers when the mother tried to take the baby from the ward.
The hearing – which lasted a week – was told that the unnamed local authorities were made aware on four occasions of the mother's 'inappropriate behaviour' towards her children. They did not find cause for concern about the care she was giving.
The court heard that the woman was described as being 'highly articulate' and who 'loves the children and they undoubtedly love her.'
She home schooled the children, and is said to have 'isolated the family' – deliberately excluding the adoptive dad of the older two children. Neighbours and social services were kept at bay.
The family's local Safeguarding Children Board issued a statement saying: "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.
"The relevant local Safeguarding Children Board has undertaken a serious case review and they aim to have this published in the coming weeks. The lessons from this case are already being put into practice as the relevant agencies are starting to implement its draft findings."