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World’s most prolific surrogate mum who has had 13 babies gave away her OWN son

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Carole Horlock gave birth to the 9lb 4oz baby in June 2004, but six weeks after the birth the couple she gave the baby to carried out a DNA test and discovered the baby was Carole’s and her husband Paul’

By Sarah Arnold

Carole Horlock  is the world’s most prolific surrogate after having 13 babies for other people. But there is one child she is desperate to see again, the boy who turned out to be her own son by her husband Paul.

Carole gave birth to the 9lb 4oz baby in June 2004, believing he was another couple’s child, created from her egg but with the sperm of the other husband.

But the couple carried out a DNA test six weeks after the birth and discovered the baby was by Carole’s husband Paul.

Carole and Paul agreed they could still adopt him, a decision Carole does not regret, but she was devastated when contact with the couple broke down, and now thinks of her son “all the time”.

Carole Horlock holding the first surrogate baby she gave birth to

Carole Horlock holding the first surrogate baby she gave birth to (Image: © JK Press / Press People)

She is now on the Adoption Contact Register hoping he would like to meet her when he turns 18 this year.

Carole, whose achievement has been entered in the Guinness World Records, says: “I am immensely proud of my surrogacy career and having 13 babies who are loved by their families.

“Surrogacy has brought me and the families I helped immeasurable joy, but also led to the darkest times of my life.

“Surrogacy is the ultimate gift that one woman can do for another.

“But there is a darker side when it goes wrong – the heartbreak, emotional roller-coaster and acrimony are devastating.”

Babies number two and three, two girls born in February 1997

Babies number two and three, two girls born in February 1997 ( Image: © JK Press / Press People)

Sadly that was the case with her ninth surrogate baby. She says: “This little boy was accidentally created with an act of love between my partner and I. We didn’t know it when we handed him over.

“We agonised over what to do, but in the end decided to let them keep him.

“People have asked, ‘How could you give this baby away as this one is yours?’, but many of the surrogate babies I have given away have been mine biologically.

“The difference was he was also Paul’s. We have never stopped thinking about him. We live in hope he is aware of us and, when he turns 18, he’d like to see us.”

In 2003, Carole agreed to become a surrogate for the UK-based mother and self-inseminated with sperm from the businessman husband.

Surrogates were advised not to have sex at all until they were pregnant, but Carole thought that was unrealistic. She says: “I never promised that I would never have sex, but my husband and I took precautions.”

When she became pregnant the couple were overjoyed. They attended scans and the birth and Carole stayed with them for a week afterwards. But six weeks later the furious father phoned the surrogacy agency to tell them a DNA test showed the baby was not his. A second test confirmed it.

Carole says: “It was just a terrible situation for everyone. I remember repeatedly saying to the surrogacy agency, ‘Do they want him?’

“As a surrogate you are having a baby for someone else – you don’t bond, you haven’t prepared for a child, in fact for nine months you are mentally distancing yourself from the baby.

Baby number six, a girl born in October 2000

Baby number six, a girl born in October 2000 ( Image: © JK Press / Press People)

Baby number seven, a boy born in January 2002

Baby number seven, a boy born in January 2002 ( Image: © JK Press / Press People)

“But we also had to make a decision – what were we going to do if they did hand him back? And what were we going to do now we had the knowledge he was biologically ours?”

Paul, now 69, is Carole’s second husband and they had no children together, although both had children from previous relationships.

Carole, 55, from Colchester, Essex, who has two daughters of her own, says: “We had an honest and open discussion about whether we would keep him or put him up for adoption.

“In the end, Paul made the decision. He said, ‘If they don’t want him, we will bring him up’. We decided if they still loved him and wanted to keep him, we would let him stay with them.

Baby number eight, a girl born in April 2003

           Baby number eight, a girl born in April 2003 ( Image: © JK Press / Press People)

Carole with baby boy number nine, born in June 2004. After his birth, she discovered he was her own son

Carole with baby boy number nine, born in June 2004. After his birth, she discovered he was her own son ( Image: © JK Press / Press People)

“The decision was immense, as this little boy was different because he was my partner’s too – and we hadn’t had a child together. While it was an agonising decision, I still think it was the right one for him and his parents.

“I’d spent nine months believing this child was theirs and psychologically distancing myself from him.

“I didn’t emotionally invest in the pregnancy, as it would break your heart every time you handed a child over.

“He’d been with them for six weeks – and I’d already begun thinking of the next couple I was going to help.

Carole with her 13th surrogate baby, a boy

          Carole with her 13th surrogate baby, a boy ( Image: ©JK PRESS PIC JOHN ALEVROYIANNIS)

Carole with two rescue dogs Billy and Boris

          Carole with two rescue dogs Billy and Boris ( Image: © Press People)

“They’d loved him from the moment of his conception and nurtured him – I’d just provided the womb. I was able to carry a baby without emotionally connecting with them.

“It was only when I nurtured my two daughters after their birth that I bonded and loved them as a mother should.”

After the boy was adopted by the couple, Carole says they kept in contact by post for a few years. But “relations were completely broken down” and the letters stopped.

She says: “I am in contact with almost all of my surrogate babies – but not him. As the years pass we think about him all the time. Paul has developed a heart condition and it would break my heart if he never met him.”

Carole with snaps of her surrogate babies

          Carole with snaps of her surrogate babies ( Image: © JK Press/Press People)

Carole admits she looked for her son on social media and found a picture of him, aged six or seven, on his mum’s Facebook profile.

She says: “It is a natural curiosity if you have created a human being to know about them.

“I’ve never seen his creation as a mistake. It was a blip… but a blip that created a wonderful human being. So I can honestly say I don’t regret it. But what I do deeply regret is not having any contact at all.”

She is now looking to June when he turns 18. Carole says: “When babies are adopted you can register an interest and leave a letter so that once they turn 18 they can find out who you are and if you want contact.

“So I’ve written a letter and hopefully, if he knows about his background, he’ll want to get to know us.

“I have thought more about this surrogate child than any of the others. I can honestly say I’d be heartbroken if he didn’t want to know us.”

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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