Angela Carless, London Daily Mail, July 18, 2007
What must it be like to conceive a child during a secret holiday romance, and then have to confess to your long-term partner that you have betrayed him?
That was the dilemma facing Francesca Morosi, 37, when she discovered she was pregnant after an affair on holiday in Mexico. Here, Francesca, who lives in Leicester with her son Julian, aged four, and runs her own financial services business, tells her extraordinary story.
As I look into my son Julian’s deep brown eyes I can’t help but be reminded of his father. His olive skin and dark hair are not so very different from my own colouring, but it’s the shape of his eyes which give him an exotic look and hint at his South American heritage.
Not that this is reflected on his birth certificate, where it states my four-year-old’s father is Irish— as anyone who knows my former partner Sean will testify, he’s a blue-eyed blond who bears no resemblance to the boy who has his surname.
I can’t deny I was quite happy for Sean to be named as my child’s father, even though I knew he wasn’t. Julian was conceived during a six-week affair while Sean and I were travelling in Mexico.
And while I can never regret becoming a mother to my much-loved child, I am deeply ashamed that I betrayed the man I loved.
Looking back on what happened, it’s as if I was gripped by a temporary insanity when I embarked on a reckless fling. He was a Mexican fisherman, almost 20 years older than me— as a 33-year-old career woman there’s no doubt I should have known better.
It wasn’t as if I was some naive young girl falling for a silver-tongued romeo on a two-week holiday, and I certainly never saw myself becoming a mother in such an unorthodox way.
My biological clock hadn’t even started ticking yet— was so much more I wanted to do before babies came along.
I loved culture, art and travel. But I also liked men and saw no reason to tie myself down with one man when I could have fun dating and playing the field as I did in my 20s.
Then, in 1999 when I was 29, I met Sean, 33, a philosophy graduate, who lived in the same block of flats as me. I’ve always been attracted to clever, cultured men and Sean, who worked with disabled people, combined a fierce intellect with a compassionate personality.
Within weeks we became very close and I no longer cared about dating other men. I only wanted to be with Sean and in January 2000, he gave up his rented flat and moved in with me.
I have no doubt I was deeply in love with him. I remember telling my mother that I’d met ‘The One’, and he in turn told me that I was the first woman he’d fallen in love with.
We had so much in common, including a love of travel and over the next two years we made frequent trips to countries like Germany, France and Spain. But it was never for very long, and both of us longed to take time out to travel properly.
Sean dreamed of going to central America to help the street children of Mexico City. We agreed this could form part of a grown-up gap year, so in January 2002, we both quit our jobs— was working in accounting— went to Mexico.
Inspired by Sean’s desire to do good, I spent three weeks working alongside him in Mexico City helping the homeless orphans, before we made our way from the city along the South Pacific coast to Acapulco. Finally, we arrived in the coastal town of Zipolite in March 2002, where we stayed in a Mexican cabana.
A backpackers’ paradise where travellers come to escape the rat race, Sean and I felt at home here. We quickly made friends with a couple who ran a small restaurant and got roped into working there for a few weeks.
It was a way of earning a bit of money to pay for our travelling and helped us meet the locals— them Cecilio, then 52, the man who was to become my lover.
My first glimpse of him was on the beach. I was fascinated as I watched him jumping in and out of the water skilfully fishing with a line. Later, he came to the restaurant for a beer and both Sean and I ended up chatting to him.
He told us how he made a living selling fish and lobster to restaurants and as he talked about his life in Zipolite, I found myself drawn to him.
He wasn’t, of course, my usual bookish type. He was very different to Sean and with his angular face and skinny legs, he wasn’t even remotely attractive. Yet there was something about him which was compelling and I found myself looking forward to seeing him when he came in for a drink.
Especially as Sean and I had not been getting along that well since leaving Mexico City. Despite our breathtaking surroundings, there was tension between us and so when Cecilio invited me to join him on a fishing trip, I agreed.
I never planned for anything to happen, but afterwards, as we cooked fish on an open fire on a secluded beach, Cecilio kissed me. To my amazement, I found myself responding, and, carried away by the passion of the moment, soon we were making love on the sand.
Afterwards I felt incredibly guilty at my betrayal of Sean. I’d never cheated on him before and despite the recent friction between us, I did love him. And yet there was something about Cecilio and his simple, carefree lifestyle in this magical place which captivated me.
Far from our beach tryst being just a brief encounter, it was the start of six weeks of madness during which I slipped away from Sean while he worked in the restaurant, to see Cecilio every day.
I know I was being wickedly deceitful, but meeting my Mexican lover in his wooden house on the beach, seemed like the most romantic thing I’d ever done.
Yet every time we had sex, the guilt got worse. From Cecilio’s house I could see the restaurant and occasionally Sean would come into view unaware I was watching him while making love to another man.
It made me feel sick with guilt. I was torn between two lovers and while Sean was the one I loved, Cecilio was the one I fantasised about.
While telling myself it had to stop, I was also thinking I could stay in Mexico and live this simple, uncomplicated life. Cecilio said he loved me and although he didn’t have much— house and a bit of land— being with the street children, I felt I didn’t want much any more.
Except it wasn’t really that simple. I knew there was a great deal at stake if I chose to stay in Zipolite and I did care for Sean a great deal. Whenever I returned from Cecilio and looked at him I was full of remorse— he, perhaps inevitably, grew full of suspicion.
He challenged me about my friendship with the fisherman. ‘Is anything going on?’ he demanded. ‘Don’t be ridiculous!’ I lied. ‘How could you think that of me!’ To my relief Sean, who’d always been on the jealous side, accepted my denial.
But a distance grew between us and I’d push him away when he approached me sexually. On the few occasions we did sleep together, I’d be thinking of Cecilio. That would make me feel guilty, too. ‘What kind of woman am I?’ I’d think, hating myself for being so deceitful.
But then I’d see Cecilio again and we’d talk about me staying in Mexico with him. Being in Zipolite was like being in a magical cocoon, but while my heart was sorely tempted to give this life a go, my head was telling me to get real. I knew my holiday affair had to end.
My tears at leaving Cecilio were genuine, but he showed very little emotion. It’s only now I realise that I was probably just another tourist to him, a holiday fling. Although I’d like to believe he had feelings for me, I don’t really think he loved me— was just pretending.
As Sean and I resumed our travels and headed for Europe, I quickly came back down to earth. The affection between us returned and by the time we’d reached Italy, I was glad to be away from Cecilio.
Although my deception weighed heavily on me, I did not want to hurt Sean by confessing to the affair and hoped it could stay my secret.
Besides, I was beginning to experience a whole new set of emotions as we went to visit my younger sister who lives in Rome. Already, a mum of two, she’d just had a new baby girl and as I held the tot in my arms, I felt strangely maternal.
It was the first time I’d ever felt broody and as the weeks passed and we ended up in Amsterdam, it began to dawn on me that I might be pregnant.
Although I was on the Pill and had used condoms when I was with Cecilio, my breasts were painful and swollen. I felt nauseous in the mornings and my belly was bloated.
Sean could tell something was wrong, but was stunned when I said I thought I should have a pregnancy test— more so when it was positive and I burst into tears. I felt panicked. A baby was the last thing I’d planned and I didn’t know who the father was!
However, I felt instinctively I was more likely to be carrying Cecilio’s child than Sean’s. I saw a doctor, and a few days later it was confirmed I was three months pregnant.
Though Sean told me how happy he was, I could not have been more miserable and wept hysterical, guilty tears. The two men I’d slept with could not have looked more different and I knew I would not be able to pass off my baby as Sean’s if he wasn’t his.
And actually, I didn’t really want to. I felt I’d lied and cheated enough. As Sean held me in his arms and told me again it would be OK and he’d stick by me, I tearfully told him: ‘This baby might not be yours— could be Cecilio’s.’
Immediately, he flew into a rage. ‘How many times were you with him?’ he demanded. ‘Only a couple of times,’ I lied. I couldn’t face telling him it had gone on every day for six weeks.
I knew he was devastated, but I did not want to break him completely. ‘Why?’ he continued to question me. ‘And why him? How did it happen? Where?’ He wanted to know every little detail.
Finally, he asked why I had lied to him. He had suspected we were carrying on, but when I denied it he believed me. ‘I trusted you,’ he fumed. I said I was sorry and I regretted it.
I felt so terrible that I’d let him down, let my family down and let myself down. But whereas others may have opted for an abortion, I was not going to let my baby down. It wasn’t its fault I’d had an affair and I knew I wanted to keep it.
I told Sean that whatever the consequences, I was going to have this baby. And Sean, who is also against abortion, agreed that I should. ‘I’m very hurt, but I’m not going to abandon you. This baby might be mine,’ he said— we both prayed that it was.
We returned to the UK where we rented a house in Leicester and Sean took up a post at the university. I stayed home, getting the house ready for the baby.
To my surprise, I was really happy with myself. I loved being pregnant and while I suspected Cecilio was the father, I hoped desperately the baby would come out looking like Sean.
I wanted him to be the father, it would be easier and I did love him. He was so protective and caring, taking on extra work to provide for us. To the outside world we looked like any other expectant couple and no one could have guessed there was any doubt over my child’s parentage.
When Julian was born on January 10, 2003, Sean was with me throughout my ten-hour induced labour and cut the umbilical cord. He weighed 6lb and looked just like Cecilio with lots of dark hair and almond-shaped eyes. He was beautiful, but so obviously nothing like Sean.
I burst into tears, horrified at the outcome, yet also so happy to have such a perfect child. I could not take my eyes off him as Sean cradled him in his arms so proud and emotional.
’My son, my son,’ he said lovingly, bonding with him instantly. ‘He looks like me,’ he said. ‘Look at his feet, they are just like mine!’
Blinded by paternal love, Sean desperately searched for similarities between himself and Julian. ‘He must be mine,’ he insisted, but it was obvious he wasn’t, even though Sean’s name went on the birth certificate.
It felt like the right thing to do. I did not want my son to have the stigma of a blank space because his real father was not there to register him. Cecilio didn’t even know about him, and anyway my dream was that Sean would be his dad and we would be a happy family.
From day one, Sean was a brilliant father. He supported me and the baby, but things never felt quite right between us. While we enjoyed great highs as a family, as a couple we reached great lows.
My guilt over the affair increased as Julian grew more like Cecilio and whenever Sean said that he looked like him, I found myself thinking: ‘But he looks like Cecilio.’ I urged him to take a DNA test but he refused, saying it would mean nothing and he didn’t care.
But I did. My relationship with Sean eventually fell apart after nine months. Despite his honourable behaviour, something died between us. There was friction and constant arguments. I didn’t want Julian to be brought up in a tense atmosphere, so Sean left. He continued to stay in touch, however and Julian still called him Daddy.
During this time, I got my career back on track studying for an MA and setting up my own business so I could juggle work and childcare. But the issue of Julian’s paternity continued to cast a shadow and eventually, when Julian was aged two, I managed to persuade Sean to take a DNA test.
As anticipated, the test ruled him out as being Julian’s father, but it was still upsetting to see it in black and white.
I could not bring myself to tell Sean on the phone, so I sent him the result along with a long letter, expressing how sorry I was. Unfortunately, he took the news badly and was very upset. What had been so obvious to me was still a shock to him.
Sean sank into a depression. Though he still came to see us, there was so much tension between us I found it unsettling for Julian, and since last Christmas the visits have stopped altogether.
However, I do plan to tell him about his real dad when he is older. I have contacted Cecilio to tell him he is a father and a letter was personally delivered to him by a man from the local tourist office. So far, he has declined to get in touch and now I’m the one who feels betrayed.
My holiday changed my life and I have learned some harsh lessons through my own selfishness. But while I am sorry I have the wrong name on my child’s birth certificate and I admit I have behaved appallingly in my betrayal of Sean, I will never regret having my son.