Cherie Howie

Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

'I didn't steal my husband's sperm'

Headline-making baby was conceived naturally, NZ woman says.

The New Zealand woman, pictured, says the baby was born after Mohammed Fouad and Elvie Ibanez had sexual intercourse while they lived in the United Arab Emirates.
The New Zealand woman, pictured, says the baby was born after Mohammed Fouad and Elvie Ibanez had sexual intercourse while they lived in the United Arab Emirates.

Mohammed Fouad claimed his Kiwi wife stole his sperm to impregnate their maid; now his wife has hit back, saying the explanation is far more traditional.

This was not the latest twist in a 21st century hi-tech surrogacy arrangement, she says, but simply her husband sleeping with the maid.

Fouad is fighting through United Arab Emirates courts for custody of his two-year-old daughter, telling the papers that she was born out of a surrogacy arrangement between his wife and their Filipina maid, Elvie Ibanez.

The story of the awkward arrangement has made international headlines. But until now, the 54-year-old Auckland nurse at the centre of the furore had never told her side of that story.

Yesterday, she told the Herald on Sunday the couple's surrogate baby was conceived naturally by her husband and Ibanez.

They had planned for the baby to be conceived artificially, she says, but Fouad changed his mind.

"So she was conceived by natural sexual intercourse, which was reluctantly agreed to."

Last week, Fouad told the Herald on Sunday the baby was conceived after samples of sperm he gave his wife for medical tests were used without his knowledge to impregnate their maid, while all three were living in the United Arab Emirates.

He denied having sex with Ibanez, who was paid $4900 under a surrogacy agreement after delivering a baby girl in 2010.

Last night he stood by his account. He again denied having sex with Ibanez and early knowledge of the surrogacy agreement. Other comments by his estranged wife were "lies", he said, including that he had a second baby with Ibanez and that he and Ibanez entered into an illegal marriage.

"Ask her to send you evidence, I sent evidence," he said.

Ibanez has since returned to the Philippines and the New Zealand woman, who the Herald on Sunday is not naming on legal grounds, said Fouad had since shown her a birth certificate showing Ibanez had given birth to his second child in the Philippines.

The Kiwi nurse says: "I am not sure what is true or not."

Fouad and Ibanez, who she says was introduced to the couple by a friend, were married in June 2010 to smooth the way for a surrogacy in the United Arab Emirates, where the practice is illegal.

This marriage was later found to be false, but the New Zealander says she had also suggested a second marriage - "the Islamic way" - before surrogacy was even sought because she could not give Fouad a child.

"Fouad stated 'without a family there would be no relationship'," she explains.

The Kiwi woman also rejects Fouad's claim that he did not know about the surrogacy agreement, or that, when he found out, she convinced him not to go to the authorities because all involved would suffer under the oil-rich Arab state's strict laws.

"He was the one who wanted an agreement and reviewed it before we signed it," she insists.

"Nothing was done without his knowledge."

She also denies the couple, who married in 2008, originally planned to adopt her Kiwi grandchild.

Her mostly Auckland-based family, which includes four adult children, are supportive and consider the surrogate daughter to be part of the family, the woman says, but they have not seen her for more than a year since she was placed in the care of Fouad's mother in Egypt.

"I did not reject her but had limited opportunity to be a large part of her life in the first year," the woman says. "I had always viewed her as being an integral part of [my family] and even though my family have never met her, they believe her place is with us."

The woman spent two "terrifying" days in jail, accused of human trafficking after trying to take the little girl home to New Zealand. The saga has left her with a debt of $100,000, and taken an emotional toll.

"This was not the dream when I married this man.

"I fell in love and trusted a man who was not what he seemed to be.

"I will forever berate myself for making the wrong choice in getting involved with his manipulative mind games and, worst of all, involving a totally innocent child."

- Herald on Sunday

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