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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.

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1,861 Responses to “Mental Illness and Motherhood”

  1. Shannon says:

    I am a Licensed Physical therapist. I have a master’s degree and I am also going to school to be a Physician’s Assistant. I have been a Physical therapist for 15 years. I am also schizoaffective….which is a cross between schizophrenia and bipolar. I am on medication and I have two children under the age of 8. I am married. I have written a book on marriage and had it published.

    I find it disgusting the tone that this surrogate mother is implying about the mentally ill. Especially this women who has no dignosis like I do. I am quite capable of handling critically ill patients at my hospital. In fact, my hospital knows that I have a mental illness….I was not required to tell them. But I did anyways.

    I take my medication and I am fine. I don’t believe that I am the only one that has the diagnosis of a mental illness with psychosis that isn’t also accomplished in life and have a career where they are intrusted with the safety of other people. Which is exactly what I am intrusted with. I help very critically ill patients in a hospital. I am left alone with them for 45 minutes and do my physical therapy. The hospital doesn’t have this problem….neither do all the other hospitals in America. As long as I take my medication.

    There is such an ignorance that bipolar, schizoaffective and schizophrenic patients are all untrustworthy, uncapable of taking care of a family, are loose cannons just waiting to snap. That is a stereotype pushed by movies and books.

    Back in the old days….black people were looked upon as inferior by whites….then most of the world grew up and saw that as racism and ignorance.

    When is the world going to wake up and see that is the same with bipolar, schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia.

    More than half of America is on an antidepressant. Yet you would think after this dumb surrgote mom and her lawyer were from the dark ages with there ridiculous comments about this poor lady.

  2. Melissa Long says:

    I am outraged that this in this day an age a person would be denied a child because of a mental illness. I am a singled mom who was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, PTSD and long term major depression 12 years ago. If someone had taken my kids from me my life would have had no purpose. To paint a picture that because you are mentally ill you are automatically unstable is prejudice. Most mentally ill people are followed by their therapist, psychiatrist and doctors. We take our medication and strive to be well. Would you deny a person who has epilepsy, blind or deaf a baby. After all they are at disadvantages too. We with mental illness are normal people with a disease plain and simple. The percentage of mentally ill people who do not care for themselves is small. I have two happy, healthy and normal children. This women is so unfair to deny parent hood to this family because of mental illness. I am disgusted that she would deny over mental illness. To label us as unfit is tragic and far from the truth. I am just sickened by this.

  3. Susan says:

    I missed most of the show. Are either set of parents biologically related to the twins? If not then those babies belong to whomever selected and “bought” them. The surrogate has no right to them. She was merely a ways to a means. The couple that chose the donor egg and sperm are the parents. They chose for these babies to be born. They just needed a little help to do it. Her only job was to carry them and deliver them-to their parents.

    It would be like ordering a new car off the internet and the delivery driver discovering you had a wreck 10 years ago. Well, you don’t deserve this car I’m just going to keep it.

  4. Denise says:

    I can not believe this has happened. Shelly and Paul kidnapped those children. Who are they to decide who is a fit parent? Shame on them for taking the children, putting their names on the birth certificates and then bonding with them. It seems like Shelly and Paul planned this all along. I think Shelly is selfish and is not a compassionate person. I hope a lawyer comes forward and ties this family in court for years. These children will grow up and find out the truth one day. I can not believe Shelly and Paul talk about being Christian. I guess they are not learning anything while attending church. They will also be judged one day.

  5. Connie Wilder says:

    Hi Dr. Phil,
    Amy and Scott deserve to parent the twins. Michigan surrogacy law sounds horrible. Based on the end of your show, it appears that Shelly is not interested in doing what is right for the kids.

    I observed several things — Shelly and her husband put their names on the birth certificates. Did she do this with the other children she carried for surrogate families? It was mentioned in the program that Shelly had no “ill intent”, that is, no intention of parenting these kids until she learned of the mental health issues regarding Amy. I don’t buy this. The act of putting their names (Shelly and her husband) on the birth certificates (potentially) indicates her intention to parent these kids. I don’t have all of the facts of this story, however, all parties were in court obviously days/weeks after the birth and after they left the hospital, which is apparently when she learned about Amy’s mental health history. I hope this makes sense. If the action of putting her name on the birth certificate in the hospital is different than the action she took with respect to birth certificates of the other children she carried via surrogacy, this demonstrates her intention to keep these kids. She knows Michigan surrogacy law. No question about it.

    Here are a few questions:
    If Shelly and her husband keep the children, what are Shelly’s plans to disclose the biological identity of the kids. That is, will the kids have an opportunity to learn of their sperm donor male and the egg donor female, ie. their biological connections. It is highly likely that these kids have half siblings born to other parents/families. What are Shelly’s plans to provide this information to the kids. How will Shelly even obtain access to this information? Dr. Phil, please address this. Also, if I heard correctly, Shelly and her husband call or refer to the kids with different names than what Amy and Scott had originally named them. That is another bothersome point, if Shelly was truly looking out for the best interest, she would not have changed their names. And, if she changed their names, that means she would have had to changed their birth certificates. Did she change the original birth certificates to reflect the newly given names?

    Dr. Phil, thanks for being a great advocate for children and also an advocate for Amy and Scott. This is an important story.

  6. Lola says:

    Dr. Phil,
    Today’s episode was extremely disturbing. I feel for Amy and Scott and I know first hand of all they have been through to want children. My husband and I were not able to conceive naturally so a few years ago we decided on international adoption (specifically China). We too went through an extensive home study, criminal record check, references etc.. both at a Provincial (by the way, I am Canadian) and at a Federal level. Unfortunately, the wait was going to 5-7 years until we were going to be matched to a child. We then decided to try assisted fertility treatment. We are now proud parents of a nine week old baby boy who is a result of IVF. Even though I was fortunate enough to get pregnant through IVF, I do understand the emotions and heart ache that Amy and Scott have been through to have children. In my opinion, Amy and Scott are the BIOLOGICAL PARENTS. IT IS THEIR EGG, THEIR SPERM, THEIR BLOOD!! Shelly is only the carrier. So Amy has a history…. all of us do! If Amy’s Social Worker felt that she was going to be an unfit parent due to her apparent mental illness, the home study would never have been approved (at least here in Canada). I want to know who made Shelly ‘god’? who is she to decide as to who should be parents? I can tell you first hand that going through adoption and fertility treatment is unbelievably emotionally and physically exhausting. In my opinion, people who go through adoption and or fertility treatment, will make wonderful parents because they will not take life for granted. I do agree that there are some people who should not be parents; however, this is not the case for Amy. I think that she is being discriminated against! I was also disturbed with Shelly and her husband’s response that they would not consider giving the babies to Amy and Scott even if a psychiatrist makes a testament that Amy would be a fit mother. Someone made a comment above and I agree that perhaps someone should have done a background check if Shelly has a history of a mental illness. In Canada, background checks are also done for surrogate mothers (at least in my Province). I hope and pray that Amy and Scott find a high powered lawyer and have the babies returned to them.

  7. Paula says:

    I want Amy to get the twins, so I hope you can help her.

  8. lilmisslady30 says:

    Shelly was a surrogate mother but not biologically connected to these babies. What gives Shelly and Paul any right to have a say in what happens to these babies? Raising a “concern” if they felt something wasn’t right, sure…but to have the FINAL SAY? Really?? So what I want to know is….after Amy & Scott took care of her expenses throughout the pregnancy….what happens to all the money they are out? She gets a FREE ride AND the babies?! Hardly seems like the right thing to me! I cant believe that the courts have allowed Shelly and her husband to keep these children. This is not a decision for THEM to make. If Amy and Scott were deemed to be unfit parents, then and only then, should the children be placed elsewhere. If Shelly and Paul are allowed to keep the babies, they should be forced to reimburse Amy and Scott ALL expenses that they took care of throughout the pregnancy. Amy and Scott should not be out the money AND the babies! Shelly is a scam….I hope she is never allowed to be a surrogate again!

  9. Cheri says:

    In this case it seems very difficult for me to determine who is right and who is wrong and in my mind the mental illness is not even the deciding factor. Of course many individuals who have diagnosed mental illness are wonderful parents. My take is that Shelley and Paul feel that they were not given all of the background facts and if they had known all of the background history they most likely would not have agreed to the surrogacy agreement. As the parents who actually gave birth they feel that they have the right to change their minds, the same as many parents do when they are giving up a child for adoption. There is a legal time limit when parents can and do change their minds.

    I have to wonder why Amy and Scott would ever enter into an agreement without the proper legal safeguards in place but that said, whether it is right or wrong, Shelley and Paul do have the legal right to change their minds and not be considered monsters for doing so. The fact that Shelley has been a surrogate before successfully, without monetary compensation, to me makes her a special person for the joy that she has brought to two other families.

  10. Melissa says:

    Well, if this is the case, Dr. Phil when can you be here to pick up my baby? I have bipolar disorder and depression. Guess what, I have a one year old. I want to reach through the t.v. and slap this woman! How dare she deny Amy and Scott the precious lives of theses two innocent children. You want to know something else, my mom was a addicted to drugs and was an alcoholic when she had me. Should you have been there to 20 years ago and taken me? Wait though, I am not doing coke or driving drunk! Shelly needs to grow up and give these kids to their rightful mom! Who is Shelly and Paul to decide weather Amy and Scott are fit to be parents. God forbid she move to Florida! Amy and Scott, I will pray for you until the day you get those kids. When they grow up, they will see how horrible a person Shelly was for KIDNAPPING them from you! If the social worker didn’t feel that Amy’s home was stable enough, guess what she wouldn’t have passed their home study!

  11. Larry says:

    Dr. Phil:

    I too, have never responded to any of your shows and have been watching you from the beginning. But after viewing the “Shelly & Paul Show”, I just had to respond. What idiots! I’ve read every reponse posted today and agree with the majority who side with Amy and Scott! I pray God will give them the strength to get through this and if somehow possible, to get their children back.

    Finally Dr Phil, would you clarify if Amy and Scott are or are not the biological parents. Thanks for making us all aware of the many important topics you cover. You do a great job and you have most definitely made a difference in many lives. God Bless you and your family in every way.

    Larry S.

  12. Diane says:

    Thank-you so much Dr. Phil for taking such a firm stand to advocate for those who have a diagnosed mental illness. You were so right about the potential for setting us back several decades!
    I have to say I do live in Michigan and I will have to look into what our laws are for surrogacy – I was upset to hear what potential pain they can cause.
    I was impressed that Amy and Scott barely brought up the fact that they paid a quite substantial amount of money – all medical expenses and many, many other related expenses. That tells me how much they really wanted the children. Given that Shelley and her husband have the babies – and I can’t help feeling they used the information as an excuse to keep them – they should pay all or most of the money back to Amy and Scott – Geez, who wouldn’t prefer to get someone else to pay all your expenses to have a baby! Or 2! Maybe they can find some grouns to get them to pay for their college educations as well!

  13. Sue M. says:

    Dr. Phil, I always watch your show and I have the greatest respect for you and the way you handle the most difficult situations that arise on your show. But I was and still am “appalled” by the way you handled the surrogacy case today. This was one of the most disturbing shows you have ever had. It is 11 PM and I am still so upset that I cannot go to sleep and found it necessary to write to you. I feel this case needs further intervention by someone who can help Amy and Scott. I fear that they will not get the support or help they need unless you help them. You introduced this case to us, the public, and I now feel it is up to you to do something more to help them. There are so many unanswered questions that bother me, such as why was there no in depth in-house evaluation done on Shelly and Paul? What right did they have to ask for the children back? And what right did they have to refuse a third party from intervening if it is for the welfare of these children? Please do not cause me to loose respect for you by seeing you do nothing to see this case through. You initially aired it. You involved us, the public. It is now your responsibility to follow through to see that justice is done for Amy, Scott and these two children. If it means airing it again or following through on your own, please do not let this case fall through the legal crack of Michigan’s Surrogacy Laws. Shelly and Paul had their legal representation on the show. But there was no one legally respresenting Amy and Scott. They need your help. Please help them. They deserve that much.

  14. Maggie says:

    Amy and Scott should have the babies! It is their blood running through those babies and nothing can ever change that! What if something were to happen to them in the future and they need a blood transfusion, Shelley and Paul would not match! Dr. Phil is there some sort of petition/support organization for Amy and Scott that could help them get their babies back? The babies should be with their REAL parents, who never gave them up and had they been able to, they would have had them without the need of a surrogate!

  15. Wendy says:

    I watched this show and saw Shelly gloating attitude about having those babies. She was crying for sympathy not empathy. Just watching her actions says she intended to keep them. They are comming up with so many bogus asnwers as to why they are keeping the children. They just lucked out because Michigan does not accept surragate child birth.

  16. Adrienne says:

    First of all, Dr. Phil, as Lisa Bloom pointed out, this is not about mental illness in general but about a very serious form of mental illness, namely psychosis. Dr. Phil persists in wrongly portraying this as being an attack on mental illness in general which it absolutely is not. Shelley had every right to change her mind when she learned of the background of Amy after the birth of these children. Neither Shelley and her husband nor Amy and her husband are biological parents to these children. Also, Dr. Phil’s offer seems generous on the surface but it ignores the fact that Shelley and her family have already bonded with these babies, and visa versa. The law in Michigan will not support a legal challenge to remove these babies from their home. Stop being so judgmental of Shelley.

  17. Lois Blum says:

    Shelly has the right to decide who she wants to be a surrogate for. She has the right to know upfront about criminal past, drug use, and any illnesses, be it physical or mental. that could impact parenting. Shelly is the one who may one day have to face those children and explain why she made the decision she did. (not Dr. P.) She is the one who must someday face the torment her decision might bring about. As the surrogate, she has the right to decide how much risk she wants to take. No one was saying mental illness makes a person an unfit parent. People with mental illness have every right to have children. Shelly made the decision that was best for Shelly…other surrogates may feel differently and that would be fine for that surrogate. Shelly, you did the right thing and you should not feel bad about your decision! I speak as both a mom and mental health professional.

  18. Kelly says:

    This show also brought about the issue of whether or not people can adopt (or in general be a good parent to) children with mental and medical issues. It was INCORRECTLY stated that you CAN adopt children if you have mental or medical issues. This is not true.

    You can be disqualified for as little as high cholesterol or depression. (it is true all over the country and for many international adoptions). I find this fact so sad with all of the children who need loving parents that you can be disqualified so quickly based on a checkmark on a piece of paper. Medical issues should be reviewed and evaluated but not necessarily be written off.

    Personally, I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder (which has been medicated for 4 years with absolutely no problems) and I have a headache condition called psuedotumor cerebri which they are still working on. I am not working on adopting a child yet (I want to in the future), but I am a mother of a 5-yr-old and a damn good one!

    There is such a stigma against mental illnesses it is pathetic. That is why people are afraid to talk about it. TV makes it worse (”Oh, she went off of her bipolar medication so she killed him” YEAH RIGHT!) People will have to change this way of thinking because I promise that everyone knows someone suffering from some form of mental disorder – depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia or others. So many have to suffer in silence. Be that person that extends a hand to help a friend, help change the stigma and definitely the feeling that we can’t be good parents!!

  19. Kelly says:

    Oh and BTW…. Shelly should not forget – THEY ARE NOT HER CHILDREN!!!!

  20. Sue M. says:

    I CANNOT believe that some people who are writing in are saying that Shelly had a “legal” right to do what she did. Lisa Bloom, Attorney for Shelly, stated that “surrogacy is against the law in Michigan and can be punishable by several years of imprisonment if it is determined that it was done for profit”. I am sure Shelly is not doing it for the kindness of her heart because from what I saw on the show, that woman has no kindness in her heart, only greed. Why is no legal representation going after Shelly for continueing to be a surrogate if surrogacy is against the law in Michigan? She “openly” stated she has done it “several” times already? She should be imprisoned not only for continueing to be a surrogate but also for stealing these babies away from Amy and Scott. The more I hear about this story, the more outraged I become. If she wants to be a parent so badly, why doesn’t she have her own children with her own husband? Now that she has the children she wants, I guess she will no longer find the need to continue to be a surrogate to anyone else. I think an extensive medical exam as well as an in-depth in-house physical, emotional, psychological, financal and criminal back ground check should be done on Shelly and Paul to see if “they” are fit to be parents. Amy and Scott went through all of that and are now being slanderized on National TV by Shelly and Paul. As Paul stated, they have done everything they were asked to do. It appears to me that Shelly and Paul have not. I hope Amy and Scott get the legal representation they need to get these children back and that Shelly and Paul get the justice they deserve for continueing to surrogate when it is “ILLEGAL IN MICHIGAN”.

  21. Melinda says:

    As a former infertility patient, I found this Dr. Phil show the most disturbing I’ve ever watched. My heart breaks for Amy and Scott. Infertility is an emotional roller-coaster where one already feels “inadequate” due to their inability to conceive. The road of considering the variety of options is scary, emotional and you rely highly upon others expertise. It’s confusing whether considering infertility treatments, adoption options, financing for any of these and the legal terms involved. It doesn’t surprise me at all the Amy and Scott found difficulties in the legal route they took. You can be a highly educated couple and struggle with legal counsel, adoptive agency counsel and who to listen to on what.

    This show is exactly why people go to extreme measures to have babies on their own. Surrogacy and adoption laws tend to favor everyone but the infertile couple. I can not express how frustrating it is to a couple who desires to parent and love on children that they have to PROVE their ability to parent when people have babies everyday without a single hoop to jump. We had to prove their was food in our fridge, have physicals to show health, provide childhood experiences information and even answer questions about our sex life to a social worker.

    I think it opens up a can of worms! So do we take babies away from 16 year old girls because their brain hasn’t reached full development yet? How do we determine which life struggles (and or illness) deem one to not be fit for parenting? What about the paralytic who cannot get to their child quickly? What about parents who put their kids in day-care all day because they have to make a living? Or, do we move kids out of single parent homes because they have the right to the benefits of a two parent family? Be careful people what you judge.

    Diagnosis of a mental illness or disorder does not equate one to inability to parent! Look at anti-depressant use. The numbers are staggering and I’m fairly sure that some of the people in our everyday lives that we deem reputable are they themselves on some kind of helpful medications-you don’t know because they are healthy because of them.

    I pray that Amy continues to find peace with her medication/therapy and by some miracle, they have their children returned. I would also like to know how Shelly plans to explain to the children all of this when they get older. It’s one thing to love on children who are surrendered. It’s another thing help them understand that you took them away yourself. Shelly should have found another way to support these kids if she felt it was so necessary. I’m sure there are dozens of other ways reassurance of the twins upbringing could have been ensured.

  22. MARILYN THOMAS says:

    She needs to give those twins to the other mother and father. Who does she think
    she is the decision maker. And her lawyer needs to stay out of it. i was so upset
    from the woem that carried the babies. She made an agreement to just carry those babies, not to keep them.

  23. Melinda says:

    Also, I think those who hold Amy’s challenges against her and consider themselves currently mentally “together” at this time ought to cross their fingers. Mental Illness or disorders can generate from a variety of other illnesses, environments and life circumstances that one cannot always predict nor prevent. No one asks for this. There are no guarentees.

  24. Mary says:

    Please, please, Dr. Phil, do a follow up show or at least post information on your website as to the progress of this atrocious situation. Each of us who posted and thousands of viewers will not rest easily until there is a judgement rendered by legal authority. Aren’t there any PITBULL LAWYERS out there who wouldn’t mind tearing into how the “scammers” justify their scheme and child abduction? Please do the moral thing and help Amy and Scott fight this battle. It was obvious your blood pressure was sky high over an immoral act. Shelly and Paul (the mute) clearly do not have a conscience, but you do Dr. Phil.

  25. Adrienne says:

    Several posters have said the following “my and Scott should have the babies! It is their blood running through those babies and nothing can ever change that!”
    THIS IS NOT TRUE! These babies were conceived using both donor eggs and sperm. The Kehoes are no more the biological parents of these children than the Bakers are. These children are NOT their blood!

  26. Adrienne says:

    This is absolutely NOT a case of child abduction. What a terrible thing to say! Also, no lawyer will be able to challenge the decision because Michigan law backs Shelley and her husband. As for those who criticize Shelley and her husband for putting their name on babies’ birth certificate, I believe this is required in Michigan. Since surrogacy is not legally recognized, the birthparents name go on birth certificates and then other couple seeks to adopt the children. I am very disturbed at the condemnation so many have for Shelley. Amy not only has a history of psychosis but also of drug abuse, DWI, etc. I can totally understand Shelley being uncomfortable in having the Kehoes raise these children.

  27. Adrienne says:

    Surrocacy contracts are against the law in Michigan or at least not recognized there. However, I believe the way this is handled legally is that the birthparents give up the children for adoption by “intended” parents. There is nothing illegal about this.

  28. Amy says:

    Dr. Phil,
    I think you should assist Amy and her husband in getting her children back. After watching the show with an open mind, I am convinced that those babies were stolen from theior biological parents. They are their flesh and blood. If a mental illness and a past were such a big deal to Shelly why would she not have asked about it before carrying someone’s child.
    I want to know if the biological parents are going to take this issue before the Supreme Court, seeing how Michigan is so backwards. Can you help them find an attonrey who can take this issue to the sc? This issue is so sad, I feel the surrgoate parents are very decietful and two faced. The fact that Shelly told them having an attorney was a waate of time and money says it all. Can’t soemone out there help these poor people. These are their children!!! Their flesh and blood!!!
    Shelly, if you really are a christian woman, you need to get down on your knees and ask forgiveness, you played god, not once but twice, and have now given all of us christaian woman a bad name- people look at you and think all christain women are like you. Shame on you… Those children are going to be very angry and have alot of issues because of the choice you and your husband have made. You better pray that when those children go and look for their biological parents that they will still be alive.

  29. Anotherworld says:

    Dr. Phil you missed the boat on this one. You wanted to make this case about mentally ill parents. This case was about DECEIT AND THEFT. The fact that Shelly put her and Paul’s name on the birth certificates before finding out about Amy’s illness and past arrests proves she intended on keeping these babies. Amy’s illness was an excuse to justify her actions. Shelly knew that Michigan law would give the parents of record legal rights. Shelly made sure she and Paul were the parents of record. She proudly stated that they did not have to adopt the babies because their names were listed on the birth certificates. It made me sick! Shelly kept talking about how wonderful her previous experience as a surrogate was. In those two cases she did not put her name on the birth certificate, why because she had no intention of gaining legal custody. Morally she has no right to these children. DNA has nothing to do with this case. Amy and Scott purchased donor eggs and sperm and paid for them to be implanted in Shelly. The eggs and sperm still belong to Amy and Scott. Now the babies, the product of the eggs ans sperm belong to them also. Maybe Amy and Scott can enlist the help of one of the donors. Would Michigan law recognize the rights of a biological parent? I hope they find a way to get their babies back.

  30. bonnie b says:


    I feel furious….I feel ill…I am just realizing why….when I was 18yo after a teenage pregnancy I relinquished a healthy baby boy genetically mine…. carried him to 41 weeks(yip) and 3 days later left the hospital with arms sooooo empty they throbbed.

    I did the most selfless loving act of my life that day…there was absolutely nothing comfortable about it…. just raw and human. There were no garantees for me or my child…yes all the details were taken care of… I did as much as i could to ensure the best for him. But as I left i will tell you foresure I felt uncomfortable. I was not the only one either..for in the span of 2 months this childless couple went from not knowing if they would be parents to holding this precious and new life in there arms…again very uncomfortable, uncertain and no garrantees…

    What did we have in common …we both made promises and KEPT them…I kept my promise to do everything in my power to ensure my health and the health of this new life. Then, when the time came to walk away, I did and let them keep their promise….to use all there God given gifts to be the best parents they could.

    A week later I resumed university and now 18 yo later I see the beautiful life giving results that arise from truely protecting, loving and ultimately sacrificing self for a child. Today I live peacefully with no regrets…

    Thank you for giving this poor adoptive family a voice in the face of this terrible injustice that has been done. The surrogate clearly is not being up front about what was disclosed or not. I feel as though over time the surrogate became personally annoyed, realized she did not LIKE the adoptive parents, did not feel a strong bond with them, there was obvious tension and devision.

    More importantly…she clearly bonded with these children..insisted on bringing them home…became more and more entangled….rather then pulling the rip cord and regrouping….continued to to settle in more and more as these children mothers…

    The surrogate basically consented to a “goodwill agreement”…. that had it been in many other parts of the country would have ended very differently (ie would have been legally enforceable). Those are not her biological children and had been she been truely so altruistic, feeling such an overwhelming responsibility to protect those children she would have not left one rock unturned to make sure those children ended up in there intended home, there destined home, the true miracle of procreation and life fullfilled.

    It makes me sick to watch her sit there and cry all the while playing God….as if she knows what the future holds for her and the adoptive parents. How does she know some day her or her husband will not also be victim to some form of significant struggle. It may not me mental illness but any form of struggle can impact children.

    She realized that these babies were really quite adorable,bonded with them and then rather than denying herself immediate gratification in order to fulfill her promise…She thru the adoptive family under the bus to get what she wanted. She wanted to raise those children. Maybe she did not feel entirely comfortable with them…maybe she did not even like them….many things in life are not comfortable including realizing that you are in over your head…have bonded with the babies and are looking for a way out.

    I have no doubt they are going to try conceal this from the children. Well explaining to a teenager who has been enlightened by a fellow church member of the horrible scandle surrounding there birth is not going to be comfortable either. Especially if those twins don’t think there parents are particularly cool at the time.

    It is not too late to do the right thing… thank you Dr. Phil for at least offering the surrogate the resources to facilitate the process.

    To the adoptive parents.

    I can only imagine what you are going thru…my prayers go out to you…I have no easy answer for you…I wish someone could reach that women. I am comforted to know that God alone can judge them and will when they stand alone before HIM. That I know for certain. That woman creator knows the true intent of her heart and the truth will prevail what ever that is….

    Please realize there are loving and selfless birthmothers in the world…who when time get tough keep there promises…

    To the surrogate…

    I know what you are going thru and it is truely the ultimate struggle in a woman life …in a natural situation a woman gradually lets got over the span of many years yet that bond is always there between mother and child…What you and I are forced to do is let go immediately…so as not to interfer with the greater process to take place.
    You can do this…you can do the right thing…you may not like these people but that does not mean you are not bound to keep your promise….

    Do not get hung up…..justified…because there was no this and no that in the agreement… in michigan…etc..etc……the law says this and not that…at the end of the day YOU made a promise…a huge promise…not only to the parents BUT to the children….you promised to act as a vehicle to get them where they needed to go..there intended home….keep your promise to them….

    When I look at pictures of this 18 yo 6 foot 3 birthson of mine …i am glad i kept my promise to him….I did the ultimate car pool and got him where he needed to get…Today…he lives peacefully with no drama

    God Bless you all…


  31. Julia Webb says:

    I wach the show ,and yes I would not give my children to this women I know peple with mental illnes they are never ok .

  32. I am so appalled by Shelly’s ignorance and how she stigmatized Amy. Obviously she is not only very ignorant but selfish. It’s a shame that so many people are so ignorant when it comes to having a mental illness. I have a chemical imbalance and am a very successful working professional. What gives Shelly the right to claim that Amy is an unfit mother? She is not a mental health professional and if she is truly a Christian like she says she is, she should not judge.

  33. Plus, this whole topic about whether or not mental illness should allow a mother to be a fit parent should not even be discussed…..it should simply not even be an issue……If Shelly really wants to start judging, maybe she should take a good look in the mirror and before she starts bullying another woman and be critical maybe she should work on herself…..

  34. Anita says:

    From the first show, until now, I have felt that the surrogate mother and her husband wanted those babies for themselves. When the subject of mental illness was discussed at length, Shelly insisted it wasn’t the mental illness, but the fact that it wasn’t disclosed. I do not understand how they have felt comfortable perpetuating this lie. As long as Amy stays on her meds, she is capable of being a fit mother and living a normal life. As far as I know there is no medicine that will cure these people of lying. There are many people in this world who have been diagnosed with a mental illness, and are living full productive lives, as long as they take thier meds and keep thier condition monitered. In my opinion this is a travesty and a terrible miscarriage of justice. Sadly, I also believe that the more time goes by, it would be detrimental to the babies’ emotional well being, to be stripped from the only family they have ever known. Shame on your two, Shelly and your husband!

  35. Lynda D says:

    I was and am outraged by this whole thing. Amy and Scott put their trust in Shelly and her husband with these babies. They were not able to do this on their own or they would have, mental illness or not. There are many mothers and fathers out there who had/have mental illnesses and raise their children to be wonderful people and they are wonderful parents who love their children.
    By doing this I think that it is a kind of kidnapping. Amy and Scott paid for everything to be done and were scamed I think. It’s like Shelly wanted this kids all along and was doing things to make sure she got tthe babies. I know I dont know this people either, but shame on you for going about it the way that you did and saying your good Christain people. Good Christain people would have done what Jesus would do, and He wouldn’t have done this. I’m no perfect Christain person myself and have no room to judge, but I would never take someones children away from them like that.
    By doing this and it being legal, is like saying ,to me, that nobody in the world should be aloud to have children until there is a mental test done on them saying they are good to have kids. It takes away rights. And if Shelly was so worried about that, she should have made sure that she thought that they would be good parents and had a mental evaluation done before agreeing to even do it for them. Many more things should have happened before the pegnancy even happened! If she wanted to make sure they were good people and could raise the children well, she should have done her homework That was Shellys fault!
    She gave Amy and Scott their dream of having children and ripped it apart. And then she says that even if there were a test done with the right doctor and it comes back that Amy and Scott are fit and ok to raise the twins, Shelly wont give the babies back. I know that they are 6 monthes old, but there are many babies 6 monthes old and older who get adopted out and dont even remember it. I understand the bond because I a parent too. But I know that some day these babies are going to know about this and I wonder how that will affect them later on. That is important to think on too.
    My whole heart goes out to Amy and Scott and I’m so sorry that your babies were ripped from your arms. I can not even begin to imagain how that must feel. I do know that I wouldn’t give up and would make many moves very quickly to see what I could do, as I’m sure you have.
    Shelly, you need to think about this very hard and truley turn your heart to God. He is the only one who knows what is best and He will give you the right anwser if you really want to hear it.
    God bless and be with both the familys and the babies.

  36. Mac says:

    I feel deeply for the torturous ordeal that Scott and Amy have been put through. I agree with Dr. Phil that being labeled with a mental illness should not automatically exclude a person from becoming a parent. I agree that an independent psychiatric evaluation should have been done to rule out the any question of bias. I think the overall outcome for Scott and Amy is unjust and bordering on tragic. Having said that, I don’t think the welfare of the children and the effects of separating them from Shelly has been objectively addressed. There is overwhelming research which supports that the first 3 months of life are critical, in terms of attachment to a primary caregiver (in this case, Shelly). It is just as critical, that attachment with that primary caregiver not be disrupted, up to at least 6 months of age. When there are disruptions, especially, a permanent severance of that attachment, a common outcome is some type of attachment disorder. It is a traumatic experience for the child. No matter how wrong we believe this situation to be, the fact is, that, no matter how much Amy and Scott may love these babies, the children are best left where they are. As a mental health professional, working in a community mental health crisis center, I see too many children who have suffered, no only from obvious abuse and neglect, but who simply were not allowed to bond with their mothers, or who had that bond disrupted at an early age. Maybe it was something as seemingly benign as living with different family members, at an early age. The results I see range anywhere from defiant behavior to behavior so violent and disruptive that family members literally fear for their live from children as young as 4 years old. We sometimes see as many as 6 to 10 of these children a week, and we are not a children’s center. These types of disorders are very difficult to treat, especially as the child grows older. The long-term outcome is all to often, criminal behavior in adolescence and adulthood. Yes, there are many children, who by necessity, are adopted out or put into foster care, but these children are the ones we see most often. I don’t know if there are any regulations regarding surrogacy, but I believe that Shelly should be prohibited from ever being a surrogate again. I just pray that she is as genuinely concerned for the babies’ welfare as she presents herself. Unfortunately, my gut tells me that it is her own disfunctional needs that are driving her to possess these children.

  37. Lynn says:

    How sad that these poor children are going to be raised by such a selfish, ignorant bigot. She claims to be a Christian, but I didn’t see that side of her during this show. We can only hope that her husband, who remained silent for most of the discussion, will have a more positive impact on these little minds. From what I saw, Shelly could never walk out of a psychiatric evaluation without a least one psych diagnosis. Lucky for her the law (which isn’t always right or fair) is on her side. I’m sure if Scott and Amy had insisted on a psych eval on Shelly they would not have selected her as the surrogate for their children.

    Has Shelly considered what form of permanent birth control she will insist her children have, if heaven forbid they are ever diagnosed with a mental illness or get involved with alcohol, drugs or the law?

  38. Victoria says:

    The laws of nature say that any woman who has a functioning womb can have a baby. Yet there are women who never give birth that are better mothers. There are many parents without mental illnesses who are hurting and destroying children on a daily basis. On the other hand, how many parents have mental illnesses that are controlled that we will never know anything about?

    If we say that someone with a mental illness is not fit to parent, then where do we draw the line? Each case should be handled individually. And if that person has all of the love in the world to give to a child, they should be supported. If we had a chance to see the futures of children who have parents, without mental illnesses, that don’t love them and treat them like they don’t love them, those children would be snatched from them immediately. As long as the person with the mental illness is medicated, monitored, and has someone to support them, I see no reason why they shouldn’t have an opportunity to mother a child.

  39. Mo Ton says:

    As a parent of a non-compliant mentally ill person, I can tell you that if the illness is not controlled, people are in danger.
    We were in court and the judge said mental illness is not a reason to take a child from a parent. The following week, the parent is in a mental ward and her child is being watched by non family members,far from home and family.

    Protect the kids. That has to be the bottom line.

  40. TJ Leckie says:

    I have just finished watching the Dr.Phil episode and for the first time in my life have been moved to comment on something I observed in the media. I too trained as a Clinical Psychologist – and I can’t help feeling that Michelle is coming from a point of ignorance. She kept repeating that Amy has an unspecified psychotic disorder in a manner suggestive that the psychiatrist was trying to withold information about the diagnosis and that inferred that this meant that Amy’s behaviour and menatal health was unpredictable. However, “unspecified psychotic disorder” is an entity that refers to a grous of symptoms that don’t clearly fit into a diagnostic box and that is its label!!. It is not unspecified in so far as they are witholding the “true nature” of the disorder – merely that is it’s label. We are all capable of unanticipated psychotic breaks! I feel that Michelle’s behaviour at the hospital, not allowing Amy in the delivery room and not placing Amy and Scott on the birth certificate at the time of the birth clearly demonstrates that for whatever reason, she had little intention of handing over Amy and Scott’s biological children. My heart goes out to Amy and Scott to know that another living person with no credentials played Lord and executioner with their lives and deemed them unfit to look after THEIR OWN CHILDREN!!! I could not give up a child and so understand that Shelly is unable to do that (despite how unfair I find it) – However, I find that at least at the hospital her behaviour indicated that she was claiming the children – long before she said she heard in the courtroom of the diagnosis. If every social/medical/psychological agency which was involved in Amy’s ongoing care as was used for her evaluation, she would be far less likely to cause any harm or negligence to those children than the milliions of parents whose substance issues lead to poor parental choices. Should they have screened the mother for possible gambling tendencies – just in case she would leave the children in a casino parkinglot alone!!! Would 10 years on medication and undercare and medication without incident have been enough? or 12? or 15? or 20years? Potentially this could lead to people truly witholding mental illness so as not to be robbed of their opportunity to become parents. This is a huge and frightening slippery slope! I am in awe of those people who can selflessly carry another couple’s child and my heart goes out to the childless mothers and fathers-to-be. Devastating situation.

  41. Ruth says:

    I feel for all involved here. Why can’t they all just get along, for the sake of these very precious children. I have a daugher in-law who was diagnosed with a really bad physicotic disorder triggered by post natal depression. Turned out she already had the disorder due to her past, but nobody new about it, including herself. For a time, mental health in NZ did not see her fit to raise her children so they were taken care of by various members of the family while my daughter in-law was getting treatment. Her marriage broke up and it was sheer chaos trying to help her deal with this and look after the kids at the same time. It put enormous strain on everyone involved, particularly her 2 lovely kids. She was ok while on the medication but took herself off it 2 years later thinking she was well again. Trouble is we knew nothing about it and she slowly relapsed and scared the daylights out of all of us. Children were temporarily removed from her care to the hands of the dad and family once again, and this time a longer and more thorough assessment of treatment was obtained. She now takes her medication by injection and is monitored continuously, but is the best mother a child can have. The kids want for nothing and her kids are loved cared for and cherrished by the mother who is the most mellow and selfless lady and committed mother in the world. So, why cant these parents all share custody of these babies and show them just how many people love them and care for them. It would mean compromise and agreements and require effort to put in place, but surely would be worth it, as despite all their differences, it is obvious they all care about these babies. Mental illness comes in many forms, but does not mean if its treated properly that the person could not still make and excellent fully compident parent. GOOD LUCK TO ALL INVOLVED.

  42. Mandy Simms says:

    I havent been so upset that I would write to Dr. Phils website. But today I was outraged when I saw the episode on that awful woman Shelly and her puppet husband deciding to keep the twin babies because they found out the intended mother had a physchosis years before….once. My mother had paranoid shziphophrenia
    and she had three children to look after and managed to look after us to the best of her ability. Shellys view were so backward and ignorant about mental illness and she is supposed to be christian. Well if thats the case, Im an athiest as of this moment.
    I certainly hope she dosnt make any money out of this.

  43. Anne Hildrum says:

    I just wonder since the surrogate couple decided they would keep the children, did they repay the parents who were supposed to have the children for all the expenses they had paid.
    If not it makes you wonder if it all was a plot to have children and getting someone to pay the initial expenses

  44. Hanne says:

    I saw the reprise of this show today 20.th July. I was shaken.Live in Norway,but watch as many of d.Phil shows I can. I just want to know , if the biological parents get the babies, will we know it via the show??

  45. Joanne says:

    I feel that this women Shelly, had no intentions of giving the babies to the intended family Kehoes. Shelly is greedy and selfish and has no feelings for the family that was going to love those twins unconditionally. Mental illness shouldnt be a factor unless the illness is active and not controlled. But if this lady is stable and on medication, has her pyschiatrist, husband, parents and extended family to support her then she is DARN WELL FIT TO BE A PARENT. I have four children and I have about four different forms of mental illness and I am under a pyschiatrist. My children have never been taken away from me. When I had a bad relapse and ended up in a clinic for two weeks my children were happy at home with their Dad and/or grandparents. When I was well I came home to my children. My mental illness also posed no threat to my children or other people, just myself. So does that make me a BAD mother. My kids are loved and cared by me and I would protect them no matter what. There is no price tag on a child. This lady Shelly should no longer be a surrogate mother after this incidence. She only thinks of herself, but portrays to think of the babies more than anything or her and her husband. What a lier. Her whole body language shows she is a lier. Maybe she has postnatal depression after having all these babies and can’t make decisions properly. The intended parents of these lovely twin babies I can only imagine the devastation and “loss” they have to deal with on a daily basis. I think the Kehoes should get this readdressed in the courtroom with a VERY good lawyer and fight for these babies. Shelly is in no condition to keep these babies because all she thinks of is herself. I feel so sad for those babies growing up with Shelly as their mother. Amy deserves the right to have her chance at being a mother, showing everyone she is capable of raising these twins. Her husband by her side is also a key point, being able to help Amy out besides loving the babies. I live outside of the USA and to me I think the court system over there needs changing in a big way. And Shelly along with the court system are nothing but prejudice against mental illness. Like Dr Phil said on one of his shows… if every mother with a mental illness that had children were frowned upon, and their babies/toddlers or children taken away from them, every state in USA would have a huge backlog of children have to deal with. I wonder if Shelly would be a surrogate for a couple that were Asian, or had dark skin. I hope that Shelly and her husband will always have sleepness nights knowing what they have done to the kehoes and the babies. And I hope the kehoes will eventually get a baby they so deserve to have.

  46. Diana says:

    doctor phil reading about this upsets me i have a somewhat similar situation and am asking a question to you and writing my story. I was wrongfully diagnosed with bipolar disorder with false reports I have never tried to commit suicide nor have ever been a danger to myself or others. in 2004 I was involuntarily commited for refusal of medication and was pregnant combined with a false report by a neighbor who also had bipolor disorder and wanted a roommate on the sixth floor. Well due to the medications being a class d medication which is harmfull to a fetus i refused medication and was so sent to a state hospital in both places I was forced medication even though i stated i did not want said medication it did not matter as my due date approached i started to comply but was not granted my freedom due to pregnancy so 6 months of compliance and still was not able to get out of said state hospital when my child was born he was swiftly taken by the children and youth system and i chose his grandparents as guardians…I was deemed incompatent and a danger to my child due too at the time mental illness and non med compliance. Now my question is this If now i am not deemed bipolar and am deemed not to have a mental illness can i gain custody of my child? my child is 6 years old now and has been with his grandparents since then and since then i have given birth to two other children and am currently pregnant and have custody of them. I feel it is not right of me to do this since my child has been with the grand parents since birth and i do not want to take away what he is used to but it also pains me to see my child grow up from afar (i keep in touch with my child and the grand parents but want my child to grow up with my other children and want to raise him) I love my child and miss my child very much and it is heartwrenching on me to not being able to raise my child and do all my motherly dutys for my child also my child is unaware of my other children i would like my children to grow up together and not apart… i state agian i have now been deemed fit and have no mental disibilitys would the court findings be invalid and what procedings should i do to gain custody back of my child. Thankyou dr phil much appreciated and god bless you.

  47. Kerry Esbensen says:

    These are all very relevant issues with mental health, but I have another issue/question. I am a Breast Cancer survivor who is just about finished with treatment and reconstruction surgeries. I have been unable to work/unemployed for about three years – my cancer was advanced and there has been complications. I was dealing with all of the physical and medical treatments – trying to stay alive and survive. Now, I am getting all of the emotional issues (and financial) all at once and am feeling overwhelmed. Can you advise me as to how to cope with fear of not getting a job, fear of not getting insurance, fear of cancer recurrance, etc. I am also have severe hot flashes and side effects/issues to deal with from the meds I have to take. Since October is Breast Cancer awareness month, I am interested in seeing this topic addressed.

    Thank you!

  48. Jackie Wood says:

    I see most people here are talking about being a mother AND having a mental disorder of their own – and what keeping their kids means to THEM. I am the child of a mother with emotional/social/paranoid issues. It is not fun. Some of her crap has rubbed off on me. Do I want a different mohter? No, not now, but if I was raised by someone without thesse issues in the first place, I think my own life would have turned out much better. Please think of the kids. And if you’re rasing kids and you have issues of your own… PLEASE go to the greatest lengths possible to keep them from inheriting your mannerisms.

  49. olive says:

    I want Amy to get the twins, so i hope you can help her.

  50. Nicky says:

    Dear Dr Phil,

    For some unknown reason tonight as I was flipping through the TV Channels I stopped on your show , but it wasn’t this topic it was Brandon Intervention on 12/27/2010, as I watched I thought I should look at your site, I never had and so I did and found this story that speaks to me on so so many levels!!!!! I feel for the adoptive parents and think they should have the kids! That said, I was adopted as an infant and have always feelt that my bio mom did a very selfless act. My adopted family wasn’t “percect”. But they loved me dearly, more then I realized until a month ago after I called my Mom from the Behavior Health Unit at a local hospital lower than low and knowing my Marrige of 17 years was coming to an end and that I was not going to be going home or seeing my teenage daughter for what I thought might be few days but turned into my Husband getting a restraining order.I have missed a month of my daughters life . People with mental illnesses are being descriminnated against and its wrong. Personally I have been dealing with Major Depression and yes became suicidal, but against my husbands wishes I had been seeking help for some time and now am finally on the right meds for me. I never have hurt my daughter and never would . Woops got wordy there sorry wad going to make the point that that one call to my adopted Mom brought my whole adopted family rallying around me, family I had distanced my self from during my marriage they welcomed me back and I have hope of seeing my daughter in the future , I just have to wait until the court date and pray they see the truth that I am not a bad mother I just want her to be able to visit if she wants.
    That surigit should remember god doesn’t discriminate when choseing parents if he did ALL mentally ill wouldn’t have kids. So if he believed it wad allright for us to be parents she should too. Thanks for reading this if you do.

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