Woman in same-sex marriage on the run from police with children and sperm donor condemns 'political correctness'

Lauren Etchells says media focus has not been on what is 'best for her daughter'

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The Independent US

A woman who went on the run from her same-sex partner with her sperm donor and two children has condemned “political correctness” surrounding the case. 

Lauren Etchells, a teacher originally from the north of England, disappeared from her home in Canada in May with her daughter and baby son, after a custody dispute with her former partner, Tasha Brown.

Canadian police have accused her of abduction and ordered an international hunt for her and her two-year-old daughter, Kaydance.

But Ms Etchells, 31, sent a 18,000 email defending herself to The Times from a secret location in the UK where she described her turbulent marriage to Ms Brown and a subsequent brief relationship with a man she referred to as her “sperm donor”, Marco van der Merwe, which resulted in the birth of her son.

She wrote: “This whole case has been about gay rights and not about what is good for my child.

“At some point the system needs to look at the straight facts and see that Kaydance is better off with me instead of getting blinded and caught up in political correctness and bureaucracy.

“Breaking up her family, separating her from her mother and brother and the man she knows as her father is going to do far more psychological damage to her than growing up not knowing... Ms Brown.”

Ms Etchells said she had wanted Kaydance to grow up knowing her biological family and accused the authorities of hunting her “like an animal”.

The former couple met on an online dating website when Ms Etchells was studying for a degree in Canada in 2007. They moved to the United Arab Emirates, where Ms Etchells was teaching, before returning to Canada to get married in 2012. 

Ms Etchells said both women were listed as the mother on Kaydance’s birth certificate but that she had given birth to her. 

She said when they had separated, a court granted 43-year-old Ms Brown access to their daughter every week, plus all week over the summer.

Ms Etchells believed this was “a huge amount of time for her to be separated from her new little brother and me, and I could not think of a case where a biological, responsible father would be given that level of access when a child so young was concerned”

During this time, Ms Etchells said Mr Van der Merwe, a former boyfriend, had agreed to become a sperm donor for her second child and they had subsequently rekindled their relationship but had since split up.

Ms Etchells said she did not begin her relationship with Mr Van der Merwe until after she broke up with Ms Brown.

She said shortly after the birth of her son, Mr Van der Merwe, also 31, had returned to the Middle East for work and she had agreed to accompany him as far as Britain, with a promise to join him after two weeks.

But, she said, “after fleeing Canada things quickly escalated and I cut off contact with him and haven’t heard from him in months”.

Mr Van der Merwe does not know where she is, she said.

He denied agreeing to become Ms Etchells’ sperm donor when contacted by The Times and said she had told him she was free to leave Canada, but did confirm she had cut off contact with him.

Ms Brown said:  “I am Kaydance’s mom too, who loves and misses her dearly. I am worried about her safety and concerned for her health. A life on the run is the worst possible way to raise our daughter.”

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