Pregnant by Jesus?
Saturday, 14 August, 2004, 19:18 GMT 20:18 UK
They're called "miracle babies" and for some childless couples in Britain, they're a dream come true. But doctors and Church of England officials are worried the babies aren't miracles at all, but either a shortcut adoption process or a baby-trafficking scheme.
Down a telephone line from Africa, Charles Nyeko hears the worry in his wife's voice. When she speaks to him from Kenya, where she went to have their "miracle baby", Miriam Nyeko sounds just awful.
"Miriam is in a terrible state, with no idea what will happen," the product designer, who lives in London, says. "We don't know what to think."
The Nyekos are the latest couple who claim to have had a miracle conception. Members of one of Britain's fastest-growing churches - the Gilbert Deya Ministries - they say their three-week old son is a "miracle from God."
But the Church of England and Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology are calling for an investigation into the so-called "miracle babies" being born to British women.
A BBC investigation looked into the births and discovered that the church's leader, Kenyan-born Gilbert Deya, prays over the childless women, and they are pronounced pregnant by Jesus.
Backstreets of Nairobi
The women then travel to Kenya where they apparently give birth in what are described as backstreet clinics in Nairobi.
Radio 4's Face the Facts discovered that one of the "miracle babies" has been taken into care after tests revealed that its DNA did not match either of its parents. Later, it was discovered the child's Kenyan birth certificate was a forgery.
"I believe in miracles, but I don't believe that people can have babies miraculously that have totally different DNA," says Dominic Walker, the Bishop of Monmouth. "I think it's very difficult when people are claiming something's a miracle when perhaps it's a criminal activity."
But Archbishop Deya - whose group has more than 36,000 members in Britain and which is building a £1 million church in south London - told the BBC that there was no explanation for the miracle babies. He said he wasn't surprised their DNA wasn't the same as their parents, as they came from God.
The Archbishop said he's seen post-menopausal women give birth, including a 56-year-old who has had 13 miracle babies over the past three years.
"The 'miracle babies' which are happening now in our ministry is beyond a human imagination, but it's not something that ... I can explain because they are of God and things of God cannot be explained by human beings," Archbishop Deya said.
"Unless somebody's blind, how can you say the woman is not pregnant?" he added. "We witness they are pregnant, they went to Kenya and they came with the babies, so we believe that where the tummy was big the baby has come out."
The ministry has 14 branches in Britain, as well as locations in Africa, Asia, and other parts of Europe, and Archbishop Deya has attracted the attention of authorities in the past.
He was investigated by the Church of England after conducting exorcisms on young children, but no action was taken.
The Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology echoes the Church of England's concerns, saying it's possible vulnerable people are being taken advantage of.
"Childless couples were very vulnerable and desperate that they would believe virtually anything," says consultant Patrick O'Brien, noting that medical evidence proved the women were not pregnant before the births.
Archbishop Deya's website
"These are not miracle children, but someone else's children, and the authorities should find out whose."
But Charles Nyeko says the birth of his son, Daniel, is simply a gift from God.
"Now we have the proof - a miracle from God," he tells the programme. "We don't understand how it has happened. We are just grateful that it has. We have the son we so longed for and I am convinced that it is a miracle, a miracle I never thought I'd see in my lifetime."
But the couple is unsure that they'll be able to bring Daniel to Britain, as the Kenyan authorities are insisting on DNA testing to determine if he is the biological child of the Nyekos.
Along with the Metropolitan Police, the United Nations Children's Fund told Face the Facts that it will be launching an investigation into child exploitation and baby trafficking in Kenya in an attempt to get to the bottom of how babies born in Africa are being passed to foreign mothers.
"We want to know exactly what's happening," says Anna Miracow, a UN child protection officer. "What are the reasons, if it's happening, how are they being taken out, where are the loopholes?"
Face the Facts is broadcast on Radio 4 and is available via the BBC Radio Player (see internet links).