On Instagram Kristina Öztürk goes by the handle @batumi_mama. The 24-year-old Russian woman has 22 surrogate children, plus one of her own, in her home in Batumi, Georgia. And, as we have reported before in BioEdge, her goal is to have 105 children. It must be the world’s most ambitious experiment in extreme polyphiloprogenitivism.
Her husband Galip, a millionaire Turk in the travel business, supports her ambitions – which naturally, are very expensive. Apart from paying the surrogate mothers, she has 16 or so live-in nannies to care for the toddlers, who are all about the same age.
But disaster has struck the Öztürks’ great experiment. Galip was arrested on May 31 on money laundering charges. The Georgian TV channel Mtavari broadcast his arrest live. He is also a fugitive from Turkey, as he was convicted there of ordering a murder. The case is murky – but whatever the facts really are, he is currently in jail and not at home supporting his wife.
Kristina appears to be facing this calamity with melancholy serenity. She writes on Instagram: “The feeling of loneliness never leaves me, even with such a large number of close people around me. Now it is more difficult than ever, I can’t stand the silence, I can’t stand his absence, I can’t sleep, and I wake up all alone…I can’t see his empty workplace… I can’t see his smile, I can’t hear his voice, I can’t feel his embrace.”
However, Kristina is only one person in this surrogacy drama. If the rivers of money dry up, who will care for the 22 toddlers? From news reports the genetic origins of the children have never been clear. Presumably Galip is the biological father, but Kristina may not be the biological mother of her children. Will her maternal feelings be strong enough to keep this extraordinary family together under financial stress?
The surrogacy industry is particularly vulnerable to political and social catastrophes, as experience in Ukraine has showed most recently. Will anyone be prosecuting the doctors and agencies who enabled the Öztürk couple to embark upon their reckless venture?