Home About This Week On Dr. Phil DrPhil.com
January 28th, 2010 by Dr. Phil

Mental Illness and Motherhood

pregnantToday’s show is one of the most controversial issues I think I’ve ever dealt with, and emotions ran high onstage and in the audience. A guest named Shelly agreed to be the surrogate for Amy and Scott Kehoe, carrying donor eggs and sperm. Although Shelly gave birth to twins, a few weeks later, she demanded that the babies be returned to her care. According to her, Amy withheld important information about her past, including a criminal record and having been diagnosed with a mental disorder.

Everyone who watches the show knows that I’m a child advocate, and I believe we should do everything in our power to protect our kids. But what would you have done in Shelly’s situation? Did she have a right to demand that the twins be returned? Should a mental illness prevent a woman from being a mother? I really want to hear from you about this one.

Tags: , ,

1,861 Responses to “Mental Illness and Motherhood”

  1. It was old year’s day when this show was on television in the Netherlands and I was basically shocked that this was possible. I thought of myself: “That is typical America.” I never heard any stories like this in the Netherlands. But here it’s not that easy of finding a surrogate I think. Never heard of it though. Because I missed the beginning of the show I searched for it on Internet and read up on it. My opinion is also that the surrogate was wrong for what she did. It is not her decision to make if Amy and Scott are fit to be parents. She took all the money and got all the help financially and kept the babies? That is wrong. Even if Amy and Scott are not the biological parents (with their seed and eggs) they made the decision to become parents by asking a surrogate to bearing their child(ren). You just can’t have the baby as a surrogate and then decide (for what reason ever) to keep the child. And the longer the children stay with the surrogate the bond with the children is there. Of course the children will bond with the woman and man they see as their parents. It is even more sad if the seed and eggs were from Amy and Scott. Than this was really sad for the children and for them because the children are growing up and raised by people who are not the biological parents. And for Amy and Scott because they are not in the lives of their biological children. So I wanted to say this and replied my comment on this story that hopefully ends well. Keep up the good work, Dr. Phil and thanks for making this (and all your other shows). Greetings from Holland!

  2. Helen says:

    Hi Dr Phil, I have been suffering from burn out. Can you tell me, what is the best way to recover from burnout. It has been building up over the last couple of year and I finally collapsed in February. I have not worked since and I am finding it a had and slow process. One of the effects that I have found hard is being able to go out in public and facing people.

  3. Kim Baker says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,

    I have a 7 year old who does not listen to me or her father or anyone. I tell her all the time that being bad gets you nothing but being good she will get things. She yells at us and when my husband her father says anything to her she hits him. That is when I start to yell at her and tell her she needs to stop hitting her dad and start to respect us. I don’t know what to do anymore. I don’t want to be one of those people who hits there kid but sometimes I wonder if that is all I am left with.

    I tell her that I am going to write to you and she fears that you are going to send her somewhere. I try to keep Jesus in her life but she chooses the Devil instead. I wish that you can write to me and tell me what I am doing wrong. When she is good she is wonderful but when she is bad you can see hate in her eyes and I don’t know where it comes from. I am not a very well person and this is just making me worse. It breaks my heart that she is this way and I try over and over again to make it right but I am failing.

    I have waited such a long time to have a child and think that this is a gift from God but what am I to do when she acts like this and I have to send her to her room and when I tell her to go to her room she says no and then I start to count and then she begs me not to make her go to her room because she don’t want to be alone. I count to 2 and she yells at me and says fine I’ll go and then storms off into her room. I get so angry that I want to go after her but I hold myself back. There has been a few times that I couldn’t hold myself back and that was the times she got spanked on her butt.

    Please tell me what I can do to fix this before she gets to the point that your guest from yesterday got to that her daughter stabbed her. I made my daughter see it and she said I would never stab you but I don’t really know what she would do in a fit of anger. Please answer me if you can!
    Thank You for your time and trouble.
    Mrs. Kimberly Baker

  4. Star jenkins says:

    Dr. Phil, I was impacted by the show that aired 6/6/12. I am a single mother of four girls and I feel my family is going in the direction of your guests. I have always taught my kids to love and protect eachother,but it doesn’t seem like they care. I have a 14,11,8 and 3 year old. My 14yr. has become a liar and a thief, we have been through so much I would think she would be more helpful. My 11yr. is the jokester and sometimes go too far and gets all the girls in a up roar. My 8yr. is and has always been very defensive. I don’t know where it started but she continues to have issuses with other kids and sisters. Everyone that knows me or have met me say you have wonderful or my kids are well mannered and they can be. I love my kids and I know I need to be more affectionant but I would appreciate If you can help my family not to go down the road of your guest. I always tell them we are all we have, I cry, scream, pray, talk, scream and pray. Please I need your help! Thank You Star

  5. penny says:

    I am a mother of three, and suffering from sever depression with anxiety and panic attacks. I do have OCD tendencies that at times shut me down from life and cause such anxiety that I can’t function in life. I lay on the couch or sleep to avoid my worries and stresses in life. I have changed my phone number, worked nights and hide from the “outside world” because it’s easier to control my life. I watched your show on OCD and I am trying to get help and change my ways but I get fixated on something and it turns my world upside down and I can’t work, talk to others or answer the phone. I would like help, I am currently going to counseling and see a psychiatrist that is treating me with meds and it has helped but I still feel like a prisoner of this disease. I think of suicide often and admit if it weren’t for my kids I would probably not be here now. I am a RN and know that I need help but it is costly and I am not sure how to find a counselor and psychiatrist that can really help me. I am in jeopardy of loosing my job because of calling in because I wake up and the thought of going causes so much anxiety I call in. I work in ICU and I have tried to change jobs for the safety of the pt and because the people i work with hate me because I call in so much and I am so embarrassed I won’t admit to my illness and the reason for call in. But because of my trouble with change and due to my call in’s no one wants to hire me, and I can’t blame them. I have called in because I was unable to accomplish something I felt I needed to do when I had a day off. So I call in to do it, then of course the anxiety of calling in starts and not making the money I need to pay bills and support us I shut down and nothing gets done anyway. I have actually gone without a paycheck due to calling in so much. I lie to my family about what I have to do or how I feel so I won’t have to participate. I have volunteered to work and I work every weekend so I don’t have to be around people or stuck in a room with so many people. My youngest son has Autism and he handles these things better then me. In fact my children have had to deal with this illness and my behavior. I have thrown out toys and things of theirs because I felt there room was to cluttered and it made me anxious to be in it. My fixations are the worse, the inability to leave the house until certain things are done. I need help and any advice you can give would be so appreciated. It has affected every part of my life, I have been divorced for 20 years yet have never dated or seen a man since then, I can’t do projects unless I spend time planning it out, buy anything that may be needed, even if I can’t afford it. I will do what ever it takes to obtain the items I need to do a “project”.(I put so much into the process of getting everything I think I need I usually don’t have the energy to actually do the project; or for some reason I can’t follow my list from A-Z so I just become depressed then anxious and just give up and go to bed. When I start a project it has to be completed before I can stop and it has to be done in a specific way or I have to keep doing it until it is done right. I am 45 and have been like this for most of my adult life. I can’t go on much longer like this and am asking for help. I have looked for support groups in Michigan without luck, I don’t have the money for counseling and doctors even with my insurance coverage because I either spend the little I have on my “projects” or bills. Please help me, my children are older but I have a lot of life to live and I would like to learn how to enjoy it and show them how to enjoy it. I am asking for HELP from any one who has it. Advice, reading, or talking I will do anything to change my ways and thoughts. Anything to quit feeling like I am in a sink hole all alone with no one around to help me or throw me a rope of help.

  6. Heather says:

    I am a successful professional with a Masters in Rehab Counseling. I am also a mother. I am a great mother….despite having a severe mental illness (Bipolar/ ultradian cycler, anxiety disorder, and PTSD). I loath the fact that people focus on the mental illness and not the person, the support network, and services that a person may have to helo them be the best parent they can be. If the people who know and love them can attest to the safety of the children there is no reason the surrogate should keep those kids. She was paid to be the incubator….thats all she is. If she has concerns then she notifies the authorities. Her part in that story is done.

  7. Lisa Marie says:

    Hi Dr. Phil. My name is Lisa Marie & I’m 28 yrs old. I like to watch ur show sometimes cause I feel like a lot of what u talk about I can relate to & it helps a lot. I have been diaognosed with severe ADHD & bi polar since I was 4. I am also epileptic. I grew up in the foster care system & now live on my own. I still have bad days but at least every other nite I watched ur show & I. feel so much better afterwards. plz continue the hard work u do every day with helpin ppl like me. I applaude u.. Hell i feel even better than I’ve ever felt coming out of a therepy session at the doctors. I am currently not going to treatment now due to the doctors I was seein r complete morons. I don’t mean any disrespect whatsoever but these doctors here in schenctady r idots & greedy. I like to b a actual part in my treatment not just a guinea pig. And the doctors disagreed. so I disagreed back….shall we say????

  8. Alisa says:

    Our family has been through such a difficult time with this topic. My niece who is 26 suffers from bipolar disorder. She was hospitalized several times and in the past has attempted to commit suicide. She several years ago had a son as a result of a rape. She is a wonderful mother despite her mental illness. Her little boy was bright, caring, and very loved as was obvious by his behavior. An older woman whose children were just out of high school befriended her and offered to help her out during a difficult time. As a matter of fact my niece even moved into her home. This woman was in the beginning had seemingly all very good intentions. She was going through a divorce and had met another man who adored this little boy. Well, my niece hit another down time and this woman was home however she called the ambulance for my niece to take her to the hospital. Unfortunately child protective services was also called by police as this little boys mother was taken to the hospital and it was their procedure. This woman named herself “Godparent” to them and kept this little boy in the home. My nieces son was never absued, neglected, or harmed in any way. For some very odd reason that has never been figured out child protective services went ahead and took protective custody of her son totally based on her mental illness and her seeking treatment and staying in the treatment unit. To make this long story short My niece ended up losing custody of her son to this so called friend based solely on the fact that she was diagnosed as “bipolar”. Illinois foster care system has many flaws in it as many do. I know as I am a foster parent in this system who tried many many times to have him transferred to my licensed home of many years with no luck. The caseworker in this situation had made up his mind the minute he opened this case that this little boy would not return. Obviously there is so much more to the story, I am very, very openminded to children in the system after fostering for years and I will definitely say the situation is what it is however my niece was wronged in this situation 100%. This caseworker only went to her home a handful of times during the case. He lied repeatedly on the stand. It was absolutely not true much of the information he reported. Unfortunately my niece did not have the resources to hire her own attorney and used the public defender. I contribute 80% of the reason she lost custody of this little boy to that. Had she been an affluent person in the community she would have never lost him in the first place. How sad such bias can cause this to happen. Someday that little boy is going to hate the person who raised him because he will remember his mommy I guarantee it and he will find out the truth. He was over four year old when this person and her “new husband” adopted him. If only she had someone who had a large sum of money on her side or someone like you who could get to the truth of the matter. The foster care system is broken. I believe it will take an absolute miracle to fix it. I have been a foster parent for over 12 years trying to do my part to help these poor kids who truly are the victims. Please address these problems on your show. You are obviously supportive through your foundation but until someone brings some light to this situation nothing is going to be done about it and it is the KIDS WHO SUFFER. Thank you for allowing me to share this sad story in hopes that someone out that can do something to stop further tragedies like this from happening. Money can’t buy happiness however is can sure help unfortunate families keep from being torn apart by the system.

  9. thelma hines says:

    I have bipolar. I am estranged from my adult children. The 30 yr old wants to treat me as if she can’t see me or hear me. She says she will not accept my letters and voice mails. I have initiated a hate campaign and it has gotten one response. She sent a packet of my notes back to me with a note that reads,”I know you are just trying to hurt me with these, but I also know this is your illness. From now on I will either return these unopened or throw them away. I will delete voice mails without listening to them.” I’m trying to lay claim to any future grandchildren I may have. I know I’m doing it wrong. I did it silently and anonymously for twenty years (1993-2013). I’m tired of doing it right and I am energized doing it wrong.

  10. Sonia N Cintron-Mercado says:

    who to deal with a heartbreak and so depressed i am crying too much. How to live my life from the burning state my family keeps me in. I want to enjoy life and i am deeply sad.

  11. Sonia N Cintron-Mercado says:

    i wish to have a vacation from all my frustration and life. I am deppley depressed and i am so sad. help me, without going to your show. thank you, i commend the work your wife and you are doing with problems in life. thank you.

Leave a Reply