Having a family, particularly a child, is the dream of many women. Unfortunately, there are times when some women go a bit overboard. Maybe they were in an accident that stops them from getting pregnant, they're infertile and can't have a kid, or they're haunted by the loss of a child. Or maybe they just envy what others have. But regardless of any of this, these women will go to any lengths to make this dream come true — even if it means stealing a child from someone else to raise as their own.
Ways of achieving this include:
- Ripping a baby straight out of another woman's womb
- Kidnapping them after birth
- Being a surrogate who's grown too attached
As having one's child taken away like this is a huge fear of any mother or parent in general, characters willing to steal other people's children are often the villains of the stories that feature them.
This can be because of The Baby Trap, Darwinist Desire, or Mandatory Motherhood. It can involve a Breeding Slave or a Stalker with a Test Tube. The common Freudian Excuse for this is a miscarriage or a Tragic Stillbirth. The woman's fixation on having a child often epitomizes Babies Make Everything Better.
- Sket Dance: Twins Bossun and Tsubaki were Separated at Birth through a more benign application of this trope. Their biological parents died the day they were born, and Bossun was adopted by their friend Akane. The doctor hid Tsubaki's existence from her (and thus Bossun) because she did not have the means to raise two newborn children at the time, and also so he and his wife could have a child of their own. Out of guilt, the doctor admits the entire thing to Bossun and Tsubaki during the manga.
- In the Fairy Tail fanfic Obsessed, unable to bear children due to an accident and having grown increasingly jealous of other successful female mages who have children, Elena endeavors to kidnap children to make her own guild and kill their mothers. By the time she starts targeting the Fairy Tail and Sabertooth guilds, she has already taken a number of children. When she is later defeated it is revealed that she used a spell to steal an unborn child to impregnate herself and killed the mother. While in captivity she gives birth, and Natsu and Lucy secretly adopt the child and hide her away as a twin of their own newborn child.
- The whole plot of Tokyo Godfathers is kicked off when Sachiko, an already depressed woman due to her gambling addict husband, suffered a miscarriage and kidnapped the newborn Kiyoko from the hospital in desperation for a child, only for the baby to end up in a trash pile to be found by the protagonists.
- A Lifetime film based on the actual case of Carlina White is called Abducted: The Carlina White Story.
- Inside is built around this as La Femme goes on a bloodthirsty rampage to steal Sarah's unborn child. Her reason? She blames Sarah for the accident that killed her unborn baby. She succeeds in the 2007 original. The remake ends with Sarah surviving and giving birth while La Femme drowns.
- Raising Arizona is about an ex-con whose wife is infertile but desperate for a child. Because of the husband's criminal past, they can't adopt, so they decide to kidnap a baby from local rich guy Nathan Arizona, whose wife just had quintuplets. Hilarity Ensues.
- Run: After the death of her own baby, Diane kidnapped and poisoned another baby, who she raised as Chloe.
- The Surrogate has Amy (Alyssa Milano) acting as the surrogate to a couple who cannot have children. She decides she wants to keep the baby girl for herself after the birth, and for good reason. The mother Joan accidentally smothered her son Christopher to death and became unhinged.
- Evillious Chronicles has this as the twist to "Moonlit Bear", where Eve Moonlit, supposedly under the impression that she was taking apples away from a bear, was in reality stealing a set of infant twins from their mother, Meta Salmofer, whom she then killed. Moonlit later raises the children as her own.
- In Little Fires Everywhere, this is the story behind Pearl's conception. In college, Mia agrees to become a surrogate for a wealthy couple who can't conceive but midway through her pregnancy, she realizes she can't go through with it. She leaves a note claiming she miscarried and leaves, cutting all contact and subsequently raising Pearl as her own (which she is biologically, if not... ethically).
- This trope gets suggested by Imogene Herdman in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever when everyone is trying to figure out how to get a baby to use to play Jesus in the titular pageant. It does not take long for this idea to get promptly shot down.
- Two versions are revealed to have happened within the same family in The Darkest Corners. Tessa's older sister is actually "Baby Morgan" and was kidnapped from her mother. Tessa's "mother" also kidnapped a woman until her due date and performed a fetal abduction and killed her to have Tessa. Lori found out and Tessa's mother killed her and made it look like the Ohio River Monster.
- Teased as being the case with Rachel in The Girl on the Train. Her husband, Tom, cheated on her and left her after their numerous fertility treatments failed, and ended up having a child with his mistress Anna. Rachel obsessively stalks them, fantasizes about their life, and at one point, "kidnaps" Tom and Anna's baby (by carrying her outside and refusing to give her back). However, Rachel never intended to hurt the baby, though she did behave creepily about it. She actually ends up helping to save Anna and the baby from the murderous Tom at the end.
- Waterland: Mary, the wife of protagonist Tom, is infertile, which makes her very unhappy. So she ends up kidnapping a baby. Although Tom gets her to give it back, the publicity around the event tarnishes his image and puts his career at risk.
- All My Children's Maria also tried to kidnap the baby she and husband Edmund had finally adopted after struggling with infertility for several years when the birth mother changed her mind.
- Criminal Minds:
- In one episode, a pair of unsubs are determined to replace their deceased son. They try to do this by kidnapping women, raping them until they're impregnated, and then forcefully providing prenatal care until the captive gives birth. Female newborns are discreetly placed in the foster system and the process is repeated immediately, resulting in the death of the women.
- The episode "I Love you, Tommy Brown" featured a variant where the Unsub was going after one specific baby: the one she had in prison from an affair she had with a student she seduced.
- There's a CSI: NY episode where a girl's body is found in a car, and it's quickly found that she was pregnant. Turns out she'd agreed to sell her baby to an infertile couple who couldn't adopt legally but changed her mind. When she told the couple she was keeping the baby they confronted her and she fell, hitting her head. She could have been saved, but instead of calling an ambulance, the couple cut the baby out of her and dumped the body. The episode ends with the baby being given to his grandparents to raise.
- In Desperate Housewives, Mary-Alice and Paul Young bought their son, Zach, from Deidre, a drug addict fallen on hard times who planned to sell him. The really "crazy" part only arose after Deidre, now sober, returned to get Zach back and threatened to have the couple arrested for kidnapping. Mary-Alice killed her and dismembered her instead.
- EastEnders: Dr. May Wright (known to the media as Mad May) develops this desire for her husband Rob's daughter Summer with his mistress Dawn Swann. Unable to have children herself, May goes out of her way to push herself into Dawn's life, claimed to be the infant's mother during the pregnancy, and after threatening to take the child from the womb tried to steal a newborn Summer from the hospital (though Dawn woke up and managed to retrieve her). Things took a turn when May attacked Dawn and her brother Mickey to kidnap Summer yet again, only to fail and die soon after.
- On Glee, Terri Schuester thinks having a baby will strengthen her marriage. She goes as far as faking sonograms, wearing a false belly, and refusing to let her husband touch her in order to pull off her fake pregnancy. Her plan was to adopt the child of one of Will's pregnant students immediately after birth and pass it off as her own.
- The Handmaid's Tale much more heavily implied this to be a motivation for the Sons of Jacob's takeover, though it was briefly referenced as being the case in the book. June and Luke's daughter Hannah was stolen shortly after birth (in both mediums) by a devastated woman who mistakenly believed her to be her own daughter who was stillborn. The series implies this far more heavily, painting Serena Joy as genuinely obsessed with having a baby for its own sake. This is built into the premise, though, as the Commanders rape women in order to impregnate them and take their babies from them.
- In one episode of Law & Order: SVU, Martin Short plays the Perp Of The Week, a rapist and murderer obsessed with virgins. He has a devoted wife and a little boy, but as the episode progresses, it's discovered that the wife actually can't have children because her husband refuses to have sex with her; he's obsessed with virgins and she wasn't one. She assaulted a woman who was near the end of her pregnancy and cut the unborn child from her womb in order to give her husband a son. She goes to prison at the end of the episode, with Stabler informing her that the boy is being returned "to his father, the grieving husband of that woman you butchered."
- In the Little House on the Prairie TV movie Bless All the Dear Children, Laura and Almanzo's toddler daughter Rose is taken by a woman who has been driven a bit mad by the death of her own child. Her husband is unaware that the child is stolen, and when the frantic parents finally track them down, he very nearly pulls a shotgun on them. Only then does his wife admit the truth. It ends unusually happily, though. The Wilders are reunited and decline to press charges against the grieving mother, and meanwhile an orphan boy who has stowed away on the whole adventure ends up being adopted by the childless couple.
- Within a month of the Tragic Stillbirth of her son, One Life to Live's Cassie Carpenter found an abandoned baby in the church's manger scene and instantly declared that she was going to adopt him, ignoring all the warnings from everyone (even her own husband) that this was an extremely poor idea, as she was still in mourning. She promptly tried to stop the baby's birth mother from visiting and, when the young woman decided that she wanted her baby back, tried to buy her off, then ultimately tried to kidnap the child, having a nervous breakdown when he was taken away too. She later became so desperate to conceive that she went to a Back-Alley Doctor and became very ill from the treatments that he gave her.
- In the last season of Salem, Anne Hale claims she is pregnant with her husband Cotton's child. Then she meets Gloriana Embry, a prostitute who is pregnant with Cotton's child. Believing she can give the baby a better life, Anne uses magic to transfer the baby to her womb instead.
- Silent Witness: In the Season 17 story "Undertone", the Body of the Week is a young woman, Alice Preston, who was heavily pregnant when she died; her baby was cut out of her body and there's no sign of the infant, leading the police and forensics team to speculate that Alice was killed because of this trope. It's revealed Alice had been persuaded to give her baby the result of a one-night stand to a childless couple rather than have an abortion. However, she eventually began having doubts about giving up her baby and argued with the would-be adoptive mother, Ellie Brooks; Alice was accidentally killed when she fell and struck her head, and Ellie cut her open to save the baby (as opposed to calling an ambulance). Her husband helped her dispose of the body so they could keep the baby.
- In The Bible, Solomon once had two women come to his court with a dilemma of two babies, one dead, one alive. One woman says that her baby was replaced by the mother whose baby perished while another woman claims that she's lying and that her baby died. The king resolved the problem by ordering the living child be cut in two and shared between the women, knowing that the real mother would beg for the child to be spared and the fake mother would not.
- In the fourth season of Archer, Lana decides that she wants a child, and thus steals a vial of Archer's sperm and impregnates herself with it.
- Some cases of fetal abductions are caused by women desperately wanting children.
- In 1987, after suffering several miscarriages, Annugetta "Ann" Pettway abducted Carlina Renae White and raised her under the name of Nejdra "Netty" Nance. 23 years later, becoming suspicious by several elements such as her not having any birth certificate, Carlina went on kidnapped children websites and found the truth.
- The case of Baby M falls under the "surrogate got attached" category. Mary Beth Whitehead agreed to become a surrogate for William and Elizabeth Stern. Whitehead was inseminated by William Stern under the condition that she would relinquish all parental rights when the baby was born. Days after the birth, Whitehead and her husband abducted the baby. The ensuing legal battle resulted in the Sterns gaining legal custody of the baby.