Mauricia Ibanez gave birth to twins at age 64. The babies, Gabriel and María de la Cruz, came into the world on February 14, 2017. Ibanez, who lives in Spain, had traveled to the United States for fertility treatment to bear them. “It’s been worth it,” she said. “The mistakes, the anger, the uncertainty… They are a gift. They’re a miracle.” They have also sparked a divisive debate on post-menopausal women giving birth and the facilities that make this possible.
Giving Birth to Twins at 64
To make this birth possible, Ibanez traveled to the U.S. four times over 18 months for fertility treatment. “I had to go abroad, to a country where clinics do not impose an age limit,” she said.
“I decided to become a mother because the experience of having Blanca, my first child, was fantastic: I asked myself if I could really have another. I’m not worried at all about my age. I am old, but it has been possible for me to get pregnant; science and medicine are the last opportunity we older people have.”
The twins are not Ibanez’s first children. In fact, she has a daughter she lost custody of in 2014. The regional government of Castilla y León took the child on the grounds that her mother was not taking proper care of her.
Ibanez explained that she has felt that people have “judged” her for “some years now.” However, she pushed those judgements aside as she focused on her two new babies. “Do I think they could be orphaned? Yes, but I don’t want to think about it. If I had thought about it, then perhaps I wouldn’t have made the decision,” she said.
She has previously worked as a Foreign Ministry civil servant, a job that had caused her to push off having kids.
“I traveled a lot, and was always being sent abroad,” she explained. However, about a decade ago, she decided she wanted to start a family. Around that time, she was granted early retirement after her diagnosis and struggles with a paranoid personality disorder.
Read: Mom has first baby at 50 after trying for over a decade
Her first child, Blanca, was born in 2011 in the village of Palacios de la Sierra, in northern Spain. However, she was taken after social workers called the home unhygienic and stated the child was isolated and lacking proper care.
Meanwhile, Ibanez tried to deny these accusations. “Abandoned? I was with her all the time. We were inseparable.” She added that she didn’t send Blanca to school at age three because she wasn’t legally obligated to send her until age six. 
After Blanca, Ibanez’s sister tried to convince the courts to declare her “fully incapable” which would force her to turn in her passport. This would stop her from traveling to the U.S. for fertility treatment. However, the judge refused when psychologists testified that Ibanez’s disorder still enabled her to “look after herself or a child.”
After the court’s decision to remove Blanca, the mayor of Palacios wrote a letter on Ibanez’s behalf, saying she has family support in the village to care for the child. Still, the daughter was eventually sent to live with Ibanez’s relative in Canada. “It was terrible. Four members of the Civil Guard turned up and they snatched her out of my arms. They shouldn’t be allowed to come into your house and take away your children like that; either you do what social services say or they take your daughter away,” she said.
Read: You’re Allowed to Have a Baby After 35
Losing Custody of the Twins
After the birth of Gabriel and María de la Cruz, the mother admitted she feared the authorities would come after them as well.
“Of course I am worried that they could take my children away. They are so defenseless, so small and delicate. I am a little bit afraid for them. I just ask God to prevent them falling into the hands of the social services,” she said.
Sadly, she lost custody of the babies when they were two months old. The authorities cited “indications of vulnerability” and stated the infants were “in a deprived situation.” This occurred after Ibanez signed an agreement for social services to grant her an assistant to give 24-hour care.
“All the reports we carried out concluded that she would need help with cleaning and looking after the children,” said a statement by the regional government. But 10 days after the mother returned home from a month-long hospital stay, officials declared the twins “at risk.”
“Since she went home, a multi-disciplinary team has been following Ibáñez’s progress, and their reports all conclude that the twins need looking after in a different environment,” said a spokesman from social services. He added that it’s possible for Ibanez to reunite with her children at a later date. “But the obligation in the short term is for them to be with foster parents.” 
“She is very distraught and traumatized,” said Ibáñez’s lawyer, Juan Carlos Sáiz. Police officers came with social workers when they took the twins into their custody. Sáiz added, “She told me that if the first time was painful, this time it has been much worse.”