the world's oldest mother at 66.



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Broody again at 72: She became the world's oldest mother at 66. Now her little girl's five - and she wants ANOTHER

Last updated at 2:05 PM on 14th November 2010

Charming though they look together, walking hand in hand to school, Adriana Iliescu - at 72 - looks more like her five-year-old daughter Eliza's slightly doddery great grandparent than her mother.
Heavily lined and with dyed black hair, even she - who in January 2005 became the world's then oldest mother - admits she looks every one of her years, if not more.
‘I try not to look in the mirror, because I don't enjoy it,' says Adriana, a writer and part-time *university lecturer in Romanian literature, who lives with Eliza in a two-bedroom flat in the *Romanian capital, Bucharest.

A mother's love: Adriana Iliescu, 72, says that the bond she shares with her five-year-old daughter, Eliza, has inspired her to want another child

‘The mirror is unkind to women, but if we are talking about my energy then I feel like a young woman. I feel like I'm 27 and when I feel a bit more tired, I feel like I'm 37. I am healthier than women more than half my age.
‘People think they are being funny when they call me granny, but I didn't have Eliza to make me look younger. I never feel my years.'
Could this be why, in what must surely be a *triumph of attitude over age, Adriana is now *defying all her critics by talking about the *possibility of having another child?
‘Medically, it's possible,' she says. ‘I *understand there are trials going on with a 70-year-old woman in England, so it could be done. I am fine and healthy and I think it would be possible to have another child in the future, but I'm not in a rush at the moment.'
Not in a rush? She's 72! How much time does she think she has?
But her caution, she insists, has nothing to do with age, exhaustion at caring for a young child or the fear of dying. It is the love she feels for Eliza and their strong bond, that makes *Adriana *reluctant to test it with the *rigours of another baby.
‘I am so close to Eliza, so bonded with her, I'm not sure I'd be able to *consider having another child if it actually came to it,' she says.

Standing firm: Although her decision to become a mother has been widely criticised, Adriana believes that the condemnation heaped on her has been fuelled by jealousy

‘Eliza is energetic and fun - a very happy child. She is everything to me and nothing else counts or matters. The child is mine and that's all I care about, but medically it is not *impossible for me to have another child.
‘I don't smoke and I don't drink. If I live as long as my parents did, Eliza will be 20 by the time I pass away. I think I still have a lot to give her.'
When I first met Adriana, two years ago, she cut a rather lonely and *eccentric - if immaculately dressed - figure, mingling with other much younger mothers as she watched Eliza, then aged three, playing on the swings near their ninth-floor flat in a drab, high-rise concrete apartment block.
Back then, she admitted that *sometimes she was so busy with Eliza it was ‘hard to have the time to even wash my hair', before adding defiantly: ‘Motherhood is so much more than I hoped for. It is relaxing looking after a child. It's everything else that's tiring.'
Eliza is now in school and Adriana believes the challenges of the past few years will continue to ease a little.
She admits it took some adjusting to having a child for the first time at her age and that she was nervous when Eliza started pre-school, aged three.

Bond: Adriana gazes lovingly as Eliza is looked after in the special care baby unit shortly after her birth

‘I was really tense as I wanted her to do well. I've invested a lot of energy into the past two years,' she says. ‘But, Eliza makes friends and plays with them, which gives me a break.'
The result of Adriana's complete focus on her daughter is that Eliza can already read and write and is academically advanced for her years.
She has friends and is happy, which is all that matters to Adriana, who gives not two hoots for the opinions of others.

A deeply private woman, she doesn't like to engage in school gate tittle-*tattle and deflects questions from other mothers, curious as to how she copes or what might happen to her daughter if she dies.
Conceived via IVF, courtesy of donated sperm and eggs implanted by a Romanian fertility expert seemingly keen to make medical history, Eliza's birth continues to divide opinion.
Her decision has been described as ‘grotesque', ‘horrifying' and the *‘ultimate act of selfishness' by *religious and ethical groups.

Indeed, angry nuns at a Bucharest convent told her it was the ‘work of the devil', just hours before Eliza's *christening ceremony.
But Adriana has no regrets and says having Eliza is the best thing she has ever done. And, for all one's misgivings, Eliza's love for her mother is evident.
Other older women - although *Adriana huffily claims they've never proved their age with birth certificates - have since had babies. In December 2006, Spaniard Carmela Bousarda claimed to be the world's oldest mother by 128 days, after *delivering IVF twins.
In November 2008, Rajo Devi Lohan, who said she was 70, gave birth to a daughter in India. But in June this year she revealed she was dying as a result of complications from the birth. The same month, 66-year-old Bhateri Devi, also from India, became the world's oldest mother of triplets.
Adriana sees this as a triumph for women who have been unable to *conceive during their fertile years.
Born into a wealthy, middle-class, educated family, Adriana got married at 20 and fell pregnant in the same year.
She was advised to have an abortion by doctors, as she had just recovered from TB and they feared for the baby's survival. She reluctantly agreed.
Her husband left her when she was 24. She never remarried and became *wedded to her career as an academic.
‘I couldn't even think about a child, as I was working,' she says. ‘But, from the age of 37, after I had *completed my doctorate, I was ready to have a child. But there was not IVF back then.'
When dictator Nicolae *Ceausescu was deposed in 1989, Adriana was too old to have a baby naturally.
She was 57 when IVF became available in Romania. Adriana had *treatment, but her first pregnancy, in 2000, failed. She then turned to Dr Bogdan *Marinescu in Bucharest for treatment, which led to the birth of Eliza.
‘People who criticise me are *jealous of what I've done with my life. It's not a small thing to have published 25 books and be a university *professor and also to have a child,' she says.

Controversial: Romanian Adriana Iliescu gave birth in January 2005 at the age of 66 after IVF treatment

‘IVF happened to me because women are very busy. They have jobs to earn a living, not always because they want a career. I wanted a child, but I was so busy and I never had a partner.'
Adriana says that, in the event of her death before Eliza reaches adulthood, Dr Marinescu will act as her guardian. As for Eliza being financially provided for, Adriana has inherited three *properties, which she will pass on.
But, ultimately, is it fair on Eliza to have such an old mother? When Eliza is 15, Adriana - if she lives that long - will be 82. Can she be *confident she'll have the energy then for a *teenager?
Already Eliza has started to notice that her mum is not the same as those picking up her school friends.
Youthful: A portrait of Adriana Iliescu taken at an unidentified date

‘I don't tell her my age. I explained that when I reached 40, it became my *private business,' says Adriana. ‘I told her: "Eliza, your mother is older than 40 and gave birth to you a little later on, but the problems with people who are over 40 depend on their health. Be happy your mum is healthy, has money and can look after you."
‘If she had a young mother, she might be *unemployed or away a lot.
‘Once, she asked: "Mum, if I had a dad, doesn't he love us?" I told her: "You don't have a father. There is a method where the stork brings an egg. Sometimes he brings it home, sometimes to the hospital and, if it happens that this child doesn't have a father, it doesn't mean no one loves her."'
Quite a concept for a girl of five to take on board. But Adriana has some very mature *conversations with Eliza.
‘We've discussed her future and we'd like it if she became a lawyer, but she also wants to study film directing.'
It seems a little premature to be mapping out Eliza's future, but *perhaps Adriana is more aware of her mortality than she cares to admit.
‘It is not easy being a mother at my age,' she says. ‘I would advise my daughter to have a child before 30. But, if she doesn't, I believe a woman should try to have a baby at any age.
‘It is the most beautiful thing to think after you have gone there is some part of you that still continues. If you have a child, you don't have death.'
In Eliza, Adriana has that child she always longed for. But when will she realise that even the most incredible medical breakthroughs will not *enable her to escape death?


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