Adriana Perez was 44 and with husband Gerardo Hernandez, a Cuban intelligence officer, locked away in a US prison, she was despairing if she will ever become a mother.
The United States and Cuba, separated only by 90 miles of sea but decades of acrimony, had not diplomatic ties, and Hernandez, a spy, was serving a double-life sentence. Cuban diplomats first brought it up with their American counterparts in 2010, but not much was expected and not much happened. But Perez was not giving up.
Cuban officials next pitched it to a US senator, Patrick Leahy, a long-tie supporter of re-establishing ties between the two countries, when he was in Havana with his wife in 2013.
They urged the senator to meet Perez. And they did, in their hotel room. “It was an emotional meeting,” Leahy said in an interview to The New York Times.
“She wanted to have a baby before she got too old. She was deeply in love with her husband.” The senator instructed his staff that “we need to figure out how to do this”. Hernandez was not allowed conjugal visits.
Artificial insemination seemed to be the only, and probably the best alternative. The first vial of frozen semen from Hernandez didn’t work, but the second did, just eight months ago.
“We can confirm the United States facilitated. Hernandez’s request to have a baby with her husband. The request was passed along by Senator (Patrick) Leahy, who was seeking to improve the conditions for Mr. Gross while he was imprisoned in Cuba,” the US Justice Department said in a statement.
Alan Gross, a US Agency for International Development contractor, was in a Cuban prison charged with spying, which he and the US have denied. Hernandez and two other Cuban intelligence officers were released last week in a swap of prisoners, and he will be home with his wife for the birth of their baby.