'I'm in love with my grandson and we're having a baby'
Pearl Carter is positively glowing with joy. She has a handsome new boyfriend, is enjoying an active sex life after many years of celibacy and, amazingly, is preparing to become a mother again.
But the retired grandmother isn't carrying the baby herself. She and her young lover have spent a staggering $54,000 hiring a surrogate to help them with their dreams of having a child.
What makes Pearl's decision to become a mum again even more shocking is that her new boyfriend is her biological grandson, 26-year-old Phil Bailey.
Phil is the son of Pearl's daughter Lynette Bailey, and the pair is braving public horror and even prison by breaking one of the last taboos – incest.
However, the pair makes no apologies for their controversial plan to start their own family.
'I'm not interested in anyone else's opinion,' Pearl says. 'I am in love with Phil and he's in love with me. Soon I'll be holding my son or daughter in my arms and Phil will be the proud dad'.
Phil adds, 'I love Pearl with all my heart. I've always been attracted to older women and I think Pearl is gorgeous. Now I'm going to be a dad and I can't wait.
'Yes, we get laughed at and bullied when we go out and kiss in public but we don't care. You can't help who you fall for.'
Pearl was 18 when she fell pregnant with daughter Lynette. She was living with her Catholic parents in Indiana and they insisted she give the baby away, so as not to bring the family into disrepute.
They organised a private adoption and Pearl never again saw her baby girl.
Pearl went on to marry, but she never had any more children. Instead she searched for her lost daughter until finally giving up hope 15 years ago.
Finding each other
In 1983, Pearl's daughter Lynette had a baby of her own, who she named Phil. She raised him as a single mother.
'My mother told me she was adopted when I was 18, and at the same time she told me she'd been diagnosed with brain cancer,' Phil says. 'I was devastated.'
Phil nursed his mum for six months before she died. It was then he decided to track down his grandmother. It took three years before he found an address for Pearl and wrote to her.
'I was stunned to get his letter,' says Pearl, who was now single. 'My heart jumped that I'd be re-united with a grandson. I wrote back immediately and included my phone number.'
When Phil phoned Pearl, the pair admits they were both rather nervous. Pearl told Phil about being forced to give up Lynette for adoption, and Phil told Pearl about his mum dying of cancer.
'We both cried but kept talking for three hours,' she says. 'When he emailed me a photo, I thought what a handsome and sexy man he was before pinching myself – he was my grandson!'
Confused, Pearl talked to a friend, who told her about an article she'd read on Genetic Sexual Attraction (GSA), which occurs when close relatives meet as adults and are attracted to each other.
'I could now understand my feelings and realise they weren't wrong,' Pearl says.
In 2006, Phil met his grandmother for the first time.
'From the first moment that I saw him, I knew we would never have a grandmother-grandson relationship,' Pearl remembers happily. 'For the first time in years I felt sexually alive.'
Phil admits that he had the same feelings towards Pearl.
'I wanted to kiss her there and then,' he says. 'My feelings were overwhelming.'
The pair spent the first week shopping, bowling and eating out. During the second week, giggly on wine after a night out, Pearl decided she wasn't going to deny her feelings anymore.
'I called Phil into my bedroom, sat him on the bed, and then I leant over and kissed him,' Pearl says.
'I expected rejection but instead he kissed me back.'
Pearl then explained to Phil what she'd discovered about GSA.
'I was thrilled and excited,' Phil says. 'I could be with Pearl and it was OK because she'd never raised me or been in my life.'
That night, grandmother and grandson became lovers.
'Making love to Pearl was a real eye-opener. It was love combined with all this sexual tension that had been building up,' Phil openly explains.
Phil, a carpenter, agreed to live with Pearl and get a job with a local building firm.
'Living with Phil as my life partner has been amazing. He cooks and cleans and we make love three times a week. We can't keep our hands off each other.'
Twelve months ago, Phil made the shocking admission that he wanted a child. Pearl told him she was desperate for a baby as well, but it was one wish that she couldn't fulfil as she'd already gone through menopause.
The determined pair then decided to use Pearl's retirement money to find a surrogate mother and buy a donor egg to inseminate with Phil's sperm. They placed an ad asking for an open-minded surrogate, and Roxanne Campbell applied. The three met up a few times and hit it off.
'Initially I was shocked,' says Roxanne on learning the couple were related. 'But they're a brilliant pair and I saw how much they loved each other. I know the baby will be loved too.'
The couple sees 30-year-old Roxanne once a month and accompany her for scans, with Pearl playing the part of a pal or the baby's grandmother.
'I am just so happy,' Pearl says.
'I am finally going to be a mum and not forced to give up my child. Phil's going to be a great dad. I never in a million years thought at 72 I'd be "pregnant" and in love with my grandson. I make no apologies and I believe God's given me a second chance.'