The Man with 1000 Kids (2024) s01e02 Episode Script

Episode 2

[pop music plays]
[Kate] We met in Sydney.
So we're both originally from Sydney.
We always knew
that we wanted to have a family together.
We knew we'd have to source a sperm donor,
so we started searching online.
And that's when we found Cryos.
[Kate] The site looked so professional.
It was really reassuring.
Cryos is the largest
international sperm bank in the world.
They're based in Denmark.
There were hundreds of donors,
like, hundreds of donors that came up.
Each donor used childhood photos
in their profiles
and obviously aliases
that aren't their real names.
She wanted someone that looked like me.
I'm saying, "Okay, let's shortlist that."
So we want someone who's blond.
We had a selection of three donors,
and then we narrowed it down to one,
and that was donor Ruud
from the Netherlands.
He just he had the most kindest eyes,
and he just really seemed like
he was a really beautiful little boy.
Cryos stated that it was fine to import
donor Ruud's sperm into Australia.
It said there was a maximum number
of children per donor
and that he hadn't exceeded his limit.
So we were totally sold on Ruud.
[Laura] When we found out
we were pregnant, it was just amazing.
[Kate] She goes,
"We're having a little boy!"
And I swear to God,
I fell to my freaking knees.
[camera clicks]
[Kate] When we first saw our son,
I saw Ruud straight away.
And even though he wasn't in the room,
he was there
because he had given us this absolutely
- Yeah, it was amazing.
- amazing gift.
- And in that moment, it was
- [Laura] Yeah.
Yeah, it was beautiful.
But that wonderment
that we had experienced having our son
was totally ripped from us.
[mysterious music plays]
[curious music plays]
[Laura] When we looked at
donor Ruud's profile,
there was a handwritten note
to the potential donor child.
It was very moving.
[Jonathan] "Dear family,
I am glad to tell you
something about why I became a donor."
[Laura] He stated
that he was very interested in a meeting
with any donor child.
But we wouldn't know who he was,
his identity, before our child was 18.
That's the law. You have to wait.
[keyboard clacking]
[Kate] But we knew, through Cryos,
they had, uh, donor sibling Facebook pages
where you could look for siblings
and families to connect.
You could say,
"Hey, we've used this donor."
"Is there any siblings out there?"
"Is there anyone
who has actually used this donor before?"
We can fly to them. We can meet them.
We might be able to have family barbecues,
and we can actually get
those kids together.
And then we got a private message.
It just said, "Hey, how are you going?"
"I just wanna let you know,
I recognize the donor
that you're looking for."
"I don't have very good news,
to tell you about your donor."
[foreboding music plays]
She said, "Your donor
is quite famous in the Netherlands."
"This guy is a serial donor."
"He has no intentions of stopping,
and there is a Facebook group that has
donor families that have used him."
"Would you like to know about it?"
So we got into that group straight away,
and they're uploading photos
of all these kids and what they look like.
It's like seeing
the same version of your own child.
- Just slightly different.
- [Laura] Yeah.
You could just lay out a plate of dough
and just bring a cookie cutter,
and just do that
hundreds and hundreds of times.
"I'm sorry. Your child is a number,
and your donor is a liar."
It's like someone swung a sock
with a brick in it.
It was bam!
[mystical music plays]
[Suzanne] We joined the Facebook group,
and it opened a whole new world for us,
a whole new reality.
Because we saw the pictures.
There are a lot of pictures
from other children,
and there are so many similarities.
- [John] We were thinking, "Oh my God."
- [Joyce] "This is bigger than we thought."
There weren't four families
or five families or ten families.
- There are much more.
- There are already hundreds.
That's when when we were,
I guess, fearful for the children.
A couple of months later,
we organized a siblings' day,
and then it became very real.
[children chattering]
[Nicolette] My daughter
knows a lot of brothers,
and she really liked one of them.
Because they have the same interests.
They have the same humor.
They have the same little silly things.
So they really connect.
And my daughter was saying,
"Hey, I like I really like him."
I was like, "Well, that's not an option.
He's your half-brother."
"But I really, really like him.
Maybe I'm in love with him."
So that's a big problem.
And she was only ten or eleven.
These connections
with the children are instant.
It's so weird to see.
They call it the Luke and Leia complex
because of the movie Star Wars.
Children who haven't
been brought up together
are more likely
to get attracted to each other
because they see some familiarities
in the face of the, uh of the sibling.
[children chattering]
[John] But just imagine
we're ten years further.
They're going to university.
They're meeting someone
that they feel this connection with.
- And
- They think it's love.
Then they can think it's love,
and then you can have incestuous children.
[children laughing]
I have to teach her to always ask,
to everybody who who she meets,
"Are you from a donor?"
[mysterious music plays]
The more kids there are,
the more chance you have on, uh, incest.
[keyboard clacking]
[Nicolette] So I talked to Jonathan
several times
and asked him how many children there are.
[phone buzzes]
[Nicolette] And he avoids the questions.
He avoids answers.
[phone buzzes]
[Nicolette] You wanna ask him nicely,
and you don't want to make him angry.
I wanted my child to have
a a bond with the donor.
And when he's angry, he could cut you off
and contact with your child.
There is his power.
[Vanessa] When I asked
how many children he had,
he told me there are probably 150-ish.
"But I do keep count."
I'm like, "Huh?"
You do keep count, but "150-ish"?
[keyboard clicking]
[Nicolette] I asked him several times,
over and over again, how many kids he had.
[phone buzzes]
[Nicolette] With everybody,
he's calling another number.
Twenty-five. One hundred.
One hundred and seventy-five.
Fifty. Two hundred.
Many moms confronted him,
asking him to stop,
and he was just not listening.
[mysterious music plays]
[Nicolette] I asked him to stop as well.
And then he always said,
"Well, I'm I'm I stopped."
"I only help moms
who want a second or a third."
[phone buzzing]
[Nicolette] But, of course,
it wasn't true.
We decided to get onto the Cryos website.
We could see that he was donating
- [Laura] Frequently.
- frequently.
There were times when he was coming
every month to Cryos, Denmark.
Because you could see
that his straws had sold out.
And then a month later,
those stocks would replenish again.
And sometimes they would replenish
up to 120 vials at a time.
And they were going very quick,
so we knew that he was very popular.
I was trying to get information.
[keyboard clicking]
We asked him
how many kids he had from Cryos.
[phone buzzing]
[Nicolette] But he lied and lied
over and over again.
[phone buzzes]
[Nicolette] Well, he has
his own YouTube channel,
and then we realized
that he has multiple videos in Denmark.
Then you assume he's there donating.
Hi. Thank you for watching
my new video blog.
Today I'm in Denmark, in Copenhagen.
Today I'm in Copenhagen.
Today I'm in Copenhagen.
Today I'm in Denmark, in Copenhagen.
[Kate] A note labeled "Staff impression"
from Cryos said
[robotic female voice]
"Ruud is a very devoted donor."
"He lives in Holland,
but he comes to Denmark
approximately one week every month."
"Ruud always enters the room
with a big smile,
revealing his gleaming white teeth."
"His sweet face is framed by
the most lovely long, thick, curly hair."
We thought, "There is a donor limit."
There's a national limit
in every single country.
And then we did a little bit of a look
to see what countries
had received his sperm
and what countries
had reached their quota.
And what we started to see
is that he had reached his quota
in most European countries.
That's what it looked like.
[Nicolette] I asked him
to stop, to stop, to stop.
Stop donating.
You're making too many children.
[keyboard clicking]
[Kate] We need to find these children.
And Jonathan's been, um,
quite transparent with his travels.
Every country that he was traveling to,
we were able to investigate
the crevices of every single
donor-conceived network group
and every sperm-donation group,
and put a call out on social media.
- [Laura] We had a lot of bites, responses.
- [Kate] We did. We had a Yeah.
[Nicolette] We found mothers
in Austria, uh, Italy,
France, Serbia, Ukraine,
uh, Germany, Poland,
Hungaria, UK, Switzerland.
[Laura] Mexico.
South Africa.
[Nicolette] Romania, Denmark, Sweden.
The US, Canada, Kenya,
and Argentina.
We were starting to do the math on that,
and we had realized that there probably
are thousands of children.
What happens, psychologically,
to these children
that have seven, eight hundred,
nine hundred brothers and sisters?
How are they psychologically going to
be able to deal with this information?
[keyboard clicking]
[phone buzzes]
Start living your own life
and your own dreams,
and follow your own will to power,
your own strength.
Discover your own strength.
And it can be in in any way.
You can excel in whatever you want to do.
You don't need anyone
telling you what to do.
[Nicolette] I talked with a lot of moms,
new moms.
And the most important question
they have is,
"How many kids does he have?"
I always have to say, "I don't know.
That's the only thing I don't know."
In that conversation,
they realize that he the whole thing,
his whole story, is one big lie,
and then I have them I have the feeling
I'm the messenger of the bad news
every time, all over all over again,
ruining their world.
It's, um it's not easy.
It's making me sleep bad. I mean Yeah.
I didn't wanna do this. [sniffles]
[crying] It's terrible to
to ruin their lives every time.
Because I I know they don't sleep.
And I don't sleep.
And sometimes I have, like,
ten moms on the phone in a week.
And it's breaking my heart.
I think once we had all those facts,
yeah, we just sat in the lounge together,
and we just
we drew all our blinds, um,
because it was just
The day was just, um
- Too much. Yeah, it was too much.
- It was actually too much.
- I don't think we left the house for days.
- No, we didn't.
We just had, um,
an eight-month-old to look after.
Uh, we canceled everything.
We didn't speak to our family.
We didn't work. We didn't do anything.
Absolutely cried our eyes out.
And you hear the worries of all those moms
for the future, for their for their kids.
They trusted this man.
This person is half our son.
And what else was there about Jonathan
that we didn't know?
[curious music plays]
[woman] Okay. Yeah.
[Patricia] I know Jonathan personally.
We are, uh, daily in daily contact.
He confides in me, and he trusts me.
[camera clicks]
I tried to have a baby with Jonathan
for six months.
I got to know him on the on the Internet.
He introduced himself.
And I think, two weeks later
when I ovulated, he was there.
[doorbell rings]
When he came, I was thinking, "Wow!"
[camera clicks]
[Patricia] Perfect skin, good body,
blond hair, blue eyes.
And I'm ready to have beautiful babies.
And I said, "Okay, come to the bedroom.
Let's do it in the natural way."
And he didn't hesitate.
And every time when he came,
I gave him chocolate milk with cookies
because he was still so young.
I found it adorable.
[curious music continues]
[man] Is there an age gap
between the two of you?
Which was fine by me. [chuckles]
He spent many hours at my house,
so then I got to know him better.
I really liked him.
I had time to discuss with him
why he was donating
and where it all started.
[camera clicks]
[Patricia] You see
photos of him as a child,
and he looks so innocent and smiley,
but I wonder how happy he really was.
Jonathan, uh, has, uh, many sisters, six,
and one one brother.
I've seen videos of him when he's younger,
and he is surrounded
by a lot of people and family.
He seemed happy and content around them.
I think he was rejected in some ways
because if you have a very big family
and you have to divide your attention
to all of the children,
it might be difficult to give them
the attention that they need.
[camera clicks]
[Patricia] I saw a lot of his pictures
as he was growing up.
I think he was trying to find himself.
He was experimenting with different looks
and different hairstyles.
On his channel, he talked about times
that he struggled in the past.
I was so aware
of how temporary everything was.
You can say I was sort of depressed.
[Patricia] You can see videos of him
trying to find his purpose
through the years.
He moved from trying to be a musician
to becoming a teacher.
Then he became a cryptocurrency trader.
[in Dutch] The top five cryptos
that I bought in March
[Patricia] I think he was lost.
And then he found his true calling.
Something that gave him
a real sense of purpose in life.
[emotional music plays]
That's when he let his hair grow
because he found it
uh, that women are responding on that.
And he liked it very much.
[Kate] In a group, when you've got
quite a few hundred children,
everyone says what year the child is born,
and what we did find
is that around ten years ago,
there was an explosion of children.
And he was really, really deciding
that "This is what I'm going to do."
"This is who I'm going to become."
And, um, we could see that there was
no stopping from that point.
To be honest, there's really no money
to be had as a professional donor,
from what we do know
about what Cryos pays.
- So it's not a lucrative profession.
- It isn't.
- It's become an addiction for him.
- [Kate] Mm-hmm.
He actually can't stop himself anymore.
It's now an obsession where he needs
to get that attention every time.
He needs to have that adoration
that he clearly missed out on
when he was younger.
He has so many skills now
to get into the brain of the women.
But also, he can really play with you.
He's meeting parents at their most
vulnerable and desperate stage of life.
And the more children
that he creates in his image,
the more powerful his legacy will become.
[mysterious music plays]
[Laura] To him,
he's creating mini versions of himself
and spreading his genetics,
and that's also become an obsession.
It's almost like it's turned into
a god-like complex, I think.
He feels that he is the one
to make the decision
whether he can give life or not give life,
and that is a very powerful
- Position, yeah.
- position to be in.
And I cannot get through to him to say,
"Why don't you stop?"
"What is going on with your brain
that you think
you're still helping people?"
"Because you're not.
You're hurting people."
[tense music plays]
I think, for me,
I needed to really actually start
processing what was going on.
We just couldn't accept
being powerless with it anymore.
- We all felt a responsibility.
- Something needed to be done.
That something needed to be done.
That's when we came across Eve Wiley,
a fertility-fraud activist.
[keyboard clacking]
[woman] The push to protect
victims of fertility fraud
makes its way to Capitol Hill.
So my mother's fertility doctor
decided to use his own sperm
instead of the sperm donor
that my parents selected.
My name is Eve Wiley,
I'm from a really small town
in East Texas,
and I found out when I was 30 years old
that I was the product of fertility fraud.
[woman] Eve has dedicated her life
to advocating for laws
to protect victims of fertility fraud.
When the Australians
first reached out to me,
I was blown away and beyond shocked
about what they were telling me.
So with Jonathan and Cryos International,
he's going to Copenhagen once a month
for four days
for four years.
And so that's roughly 200 donations,
and you can get
about 15 straws of sperm per ejaculation.
And if every straw makes a baby,
that could be 3,000 potential children.
- [heartbeat]
- [cries]
There's no international limit
for the amount of offspring
that one donor can have.
And so what ultimately ends up happening
is that a really popular donor
will meet that national limit,
and then a place like Cryos
will go and sell it
to a different country.
And then it will get maxed out there,
and then he'll get sold
to country after country after country.
And that is just one sperm bank,
and we know
that he was in at least 11 sperm banks.
These donors can go in,
and they can bounce around
from clinic to clinic to clinic.
Even though they sign something
that says they're not donating elsewhere,
there's nothing to enforce it
because it's just a guideline
and a recommendation.
And that's the problem.
When you're breeding puppies
or livestock and cattle,
that is more regulated
than the fertility industry
and sperm donation.
We had been totally failed.
We had been failed by the donor,
and we had been failed by the sperm bank.
So it was like everyone was in cahoots.
No one had cared about the legislation.
What legislation?
And the sperm banks just wanted our money.
We know that this is morally wrong,
but just because it's morally wrong
doesn't make it illegal.
So the first thing that I recommended
for the mothers to do
was to create a database
of all of the half-siblings
so that they can give that
to their children when they get older.
And that way, it would really alleviate
a lot of the problems
like accidental incest.
[foreboding music plays]
[John] He admitted to us
that he has a list.
He has a document
with all the children he fathered,
and he's choosing not to share that.
[Vanessa] He keeps
his backpack really close.
It's almost like it's attached to him.
We do think
he keeps a database in his laptop.
[Nicolette] It's like a trophy.
"I know exactly how many kids I have,
and I know where they live,
and I know the names."
If you ask for the list,
he's not giving it.
[foreboding music continues]
[phone buzzes]
[Joyce] I asked him to tell those moms,
to be honest to those moms,
because it's important that they know
and their children know,
and he doesn't do it.
He doesn't care.
[Kate] Jonathan was never going
to share that information
because families talk,
and who he was
and what he was really doing
would have been exposed.
- So he obviously kept everyone separate
- He kept everyone separate.
and kept everyone apart
so that information was never found out.
We realized that Jonathan
was still donating
because we could see that he was
still advertising himself, essentially,
um, in sperm-donor groups.
[keyboard clacking]
[Kate] We could see
that he was continuing to promote himself.
He was using different photos
on many different websites.
He was showing off
his long hair at the time.
He was dressing like a professional
in a beautiful suit and tie.
He was really selling himself,
especially as a Viking.
And it was so infuriating to see,
because we were absolutely powerless.
How do you stop these guys?
How can Jonathan be stopped?
Media is one way of informing the public
that "Hey, here's this guy. He's a danger.
This is why it's a danger."
What we found frustrating
is that his name wasn't out in the open,
because Dutch law doesn't allow
his name or picture in the media.
He was out there
lying to other prospective parents,
and we had no way
of alerting people who he was
because every single article
that was done on him in the past
simply said, "A Dutch man."
And no one had any idea who he was.
He could have been anybody.
[mysterious music plays]
- [heartbeat]
- [cries]
[Kate] And so he was continuing
to go under the radar,
visiting the homes of all these women,
and no one had that educated decision
because no one knew who he was.
- [ding]
- [cries]
[Eve] Jonathan had previously
not been named in the media,
so one of the things that I did do
is connect them to the New York Times.
[mysterious music continues]
She was saying, "Listen, I'm an American,
and this is how we roll in the US."
"If somebody has done something wrong
and we need to expose them,
then we need to get his name"
- In the media.
- "in the media."
This would give a global platform
for the moms to notify Americans,
to notify women in the Netherlands
and across the world
that he was a serial sperm donor.
[dramatic music plays]
A lot of these women
don't know that they have been victimized.
The media was interested in our story.
[keyboard clicking]
[Nicolette] So we organized,
uh, a meeting with him
and, I think, about 10, 15 moms
to ask him to stop.
[phone buzzes]
And we had to reschedule that meeting,
I think, about three times
because he was in another country
or away or occupied.
[in French] Hello, my friends.
Thank you very much
for watching my video blog.
Then we said, "Okay, this is the last date
we're gonna plan with you,
and, um, if you don't show up,
I know some moms will go to the media."
[keyboard clicking]
[Nicolette] And then, I think,
a few days before the meeting,
he said, "I'm not coming."
He said he went to Mexico.
We could see in videos
that he had been there before.
You never know why,
but I think he was going there to donate.
Today I'm in Mexico, in Mexico City,
and I wanna talk about
the purpose of life.
[keyboard clicking]
[Nicolette] I was angry,
and I know other moms got angry.
[Vanessa] It was the same story always,
popping up in different countries,
proudly filming himself,
showing off his language skills.
It felt like he was playing with us.
[in Italian] Good morning, and thank you
very much for watching my video blog.
[dramatic music intensifies]
[keyboard clicking]
So that was his last chance.
[suspenseful music plays]
[Vanessa] I took my laptop and went
to the site of the New York Times,
and I started writing and writing
and writing an email
and hit send.
I'm gonna take you down.
If it's not only me,
it's with a bunch of other moms
who will stand behind me,
and we will do it together.
[suspenseful music continues]
[Kate] We were so freaking excited.
We made the front page
of the New York Times.
I couldn't believe it.
We just felt we felt we were heard.
[dramatic music plays]
[Vanessa] All of a sudden, his name
was all over the place on the Internet.
[Eve] It got picked up internationally,
and it did get the awareness
that we wanted.
The day it got out, it was
[chuckles]nothing as I expected,
but what can you expect?
You have no clue what you're up to.
There are a lot of weird people saying,
"You've got what you deserve,"
and "You should have respected
God's ways," and
"You shouldn't have had kids."
[somber music plays]
He was contacted for comment
after the article was published
for the New York Times,
and I think he laughed it off.
[Suzanne] When you disagree with him,
you're just angry moms,
or you're all ugly,
or you all are not able to get children
in any other way.
[phone buzzes]
[phone buzzes]
He literally told me
that if I went on with media,
that it was my fault that my kids
wouldn't be able to have contact
with their biological father.
He told other mothers too.
[mysterious music plays]
[Nicolette] That's when
the whole blocking thing started.
I made him angry,
and he cut off all contact,
and he doesn't want to see me or my child.
So that's a sacrifice I made.
And I hate that because I want my daughter
to have that connection.
So he uses, like,
your maternal instinct to blackmail you.
'Cause that's the only
word I have for it, blackmail.
Trying to target mothers
instead of directing
The blame on himself.
the blame on himself
showed that he would never stop donating.
[phone buzzing]
[Kate] He refused to acknowledge any of it
and made a total mockery out of it.
He had said to a few mothers,
"This is going to give me
so much exposure."
He said that he was gonna get
so many more mothers
broaching him for sperm donation,
and that it was going to backfire
because now he was gonna be able
to freely create so many more children,
which means that we were gonna have
egg on our faces for daring to speak up.
[foreboding music plays]
We didn't think
that this could get any more twisted.
But it did.
[Suzanne] In our research,
we stumbled upon
some really, really shocking allegations
by an ex-donor who turned whistleblower.
[foreboding music intensifies]
[distorted male voice] I've been
a sperm donor since 2010,
and I know all about
the donors in Holland.
I want to protect my identity
and my reputation
because what I'm about to tell you
is shocking and disturbing.
In 2010, there was
only one website in Holland
that was a marketplace for sperm donors,
the website Longing for a Child.
I used the website Longing for a Child.
Longing for a Child.
Longing for a Child.
[distorted male voice] Since I was new,
I wasn't certain what to expect
after I put my ad up on that website.
In the first month,
I received 50 responses
from women who needed help
with their child wish.
But after I met a few of these mothers
then I found out
that Jonathan wasn't acting alone.
He worked together
with another Dutch donor
to deceive hundreds of women in Holland
and all across the world,
to father as many children as possible.
I got to know these guys
through the website,
and they spoke openly to me about it.
The website was run by Leon.
Leon from Dordrecht.
He was a big bald guy
of six foot three tall.
[Natalie] The first donor
that I spent time with,
he introduced himself as Leon.
He had, um, a scar from his left ear
to his right ear on the back of his head.
[distorted male voice]
They operated like a cartel,
and a cartel works the way
that you divide up territory.
In their case, dividing up the women.
I tried to have a baby with Jonathan
for six months,
before I was swapped to Leon.
[doorbell rings]
Our friendship grew, and later,
when I got to know Leon much better,
he told me about Jonathan
and some other donors,
about, uh, what they did.
And I found out that Leon
has around 415 children.
[mysterious music plays]
[distorted male voice] These two guys
had multiple profiles on that website.
The profiles were completely fake.
Many of these different profiles
would ultimately end up to two donors,
Leon and Jonathan.
So women thought they had a choice,
but actually they didn't have.
The only reason why you would do that
is to maximize your offspring.
[Patricia] It's a competition
where they said, "Yeah, I have four more
and, uh, two on the way."
And they're very excited about that,
proud of it.
It's just a game for them.
And that's how it got dangerous.
It's the first time that I'm opening up
to other people about this.
And I regret that,
but I just wanted to have a baby so much,
so I wasn't thinking rationally.
Leon told me they met each other
at a parking place
that they put
their sperm together, mix it,
and give it to the women
who wanted to get pregnant.
Let's do a sperm roulette
and see who wins.
There will be mothers thinking
that they got sperm from one donor,
but it is from the other one.
I want to tell them
it's very possible that this happened.
[Patricia] It's very possible
that this happened.
[John] At that moment we were feeling,
"If this is true, I'm going to kill you."
Because that is really
fucking around with our lives.
It's disgusting.
It's not a game. It's about kids.
Maybe there was someone else in his house.
I don't know.
[Nicolette] If you collected
the sperm from the car
or he brought it to your door,
I can imagine
that you might want to do a DNA test.
We really want to take legal action
to force him to stop.
This was, for us, the final straw.
He really fucked with the wrong women.
[foreboding music plays]
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