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February 23rd, 2010 by Dr. Phil

Mental Illness and Motherhood, Part 2

pregnancy21Imagine that you and your husband are unable to conceive, so you seek out a surrogate who agrees to carry donor eggs and sperm for you. You set up a nursery and fill it with a crib, blankets and baby clothes. Then the surrogate mother delivers beautiful twins — a son and a daughter. Now imagine one month later, getting a knock on your door and finding out that the babies you thought belonged to you have to be surrendered to the surrogate.

That’s what intended parents Scott and Amy Kehoe say happened to them when their surrogate Shelly Baker reclaimed the twins she carried for them after she says she learned that Amy has a mental illness. After Shelly’s appearance on the show, the blog and the message boards were buzzing! I know, because I read your comments. Many of you felt that Shelly’s decision was just wrong and selfish, while others believed that the surrogate mom did the right thing by allegedly protecting the kids. 

Reader Wendy says: “Dr. Phil, I was so appalled to hear someone state that a women with a mental illness was being shunned from having her twin babies just because of mental illness and so THANKFUL for your views on this situation. I am a mother with Bipolar and in NO way does this make me unfit to parent my child. I pray that something will/can be done so that Amy and Scott can have their babies.”

Gail, who sides with Shelly, says, “The children should stay in the mentally stable home! Since they are not biologically linked to either. Medication does not always work and the severe symptoms come and go leaving the children to feel heartbroken and unsafe.”

Shelly returns to the show to face her critics and to defend what she believes was a tough but ethical decision. Let me tell you, things got pretty heated in the studio. We had some very outspoken audience members who feel that having a mental illness should not preclude a woman from being a mother. 

Tune in, and let me know if you think Shelly gets a wake-up call about her choice to reclaim the twins. What would you have done in her situation?

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507 Responses to “Mental Illness and Motherhood, Part 2”

  1. Trudy Forrest says:

    Dear Shelly, Pay back all their money, stop enjoying the power, learn your lesson and move on.
    Dear Amy, Forgive Shelly for her sins and weaknesses, understand that bad things sometimes happen to good people, learn your lesson and move on.

  2. Cate from Oz says:

    As the babies are not Shelly’s biological children, if there was any question of Amy’s suitability as a parent, that should have been determined by the authorities, not Shelly and the babies should have been relinquished to foster care, not Shelly. She agreed to carry the babies. She was paid for her services. Her job was over. She should have withdrawn from the scene after the birth. Amy’s mental health is really none of Shelly’s business if the authorities deemed Amy to be a suitable parent. It’s just not Shelly’s call. Most of us, in our lifetime, will experience some kind of mental illness, temporary or otherwise. Whether or not we get treatment for that illness is the mark of mental stability, in my opinion. If a history of mental illness is to preclude people from being parents, then the human race is in big trouble. There would be precious few parents left in the world. I find Shelly’s position on this to be one based on ignorance and self-righteousness. Has Shelly’s own mental health been assessed? Her actions don’t seem all that rational to me. Maybe taking the babies was an expression of post-natal depression or separation anxiety on her own part? If she’s serious about “ethical” decisions, she should pay back all the money paid to her by the Kehoes. I’m kind of disgusted that she hides behind the “Christian” label as some kind of justification for her actions. Apart from the above issues, I have to say though, that I didn’t hear the Kehoes talking much about how much they loved the babies and wanted to be their parents. All I heard them talking about was why they were right and Shelly was wrong. I did wonder if they were more interested in the argument than the babies. The individuals I worry about most, in this situation, are the children. I have my doubts that either party should have them.

  3. Sara says:

    I do not even know where to start, other than this is very sad for two people who had hopes and dreams regarding two precious innocent little children. I am 39 and experienced post natal depression which led to depression and anxiety. I had trouble coping and my sister offered to help by caring for my younger one whilst I got back on my feet. Very soon after, she wanted to adopt my son and sadly I agreed as I believed I could not cope being a single mum with two little ones. Needles to say my sister had been trying for about 10 years to have a baby with her husband (they both have two grown up children from previous relationships), when they were unsuccessful, they tried IVF, no luck there either. They then decided to adopt a child from overseas and it was going to cost $15,000.00 to do so. Fortunate for them, they did not have to adopt because as soon as my son went into her care – her unmet needs were met. Yes, I was manipulated and deceived by her with her initial offer for help. I was only allowed to see my son again on a few visits. No paperwork was ever signed and I ended up telling my sister I would never give up my parental rights with my son. I got well, told her I was bringing him home and they agreed. This happened twice and they both said they would then didn’t. Unfortunately, I kept it out of the courts as I believed her to be family. Finally, enough was enough and we are now in a horrible court battle. My point is: I had a mental illness, got well, replaced ineffective coping mechanisms with effective ones, gained valualbe insight into my life and that of my children. I work on my health, physical and mental every day. I continue to raise my oldest son on my own. Everyone who knows me and her, knows she is consciously making a decision to hurt my family, my two little, precious, innocent little boy who need their mum. I have remorse, guilt, shame and continually grieve for the loss of my son – as I don’t know the outcome. Most importantly, I love him more than the stars in the universe! However, I KNOW I am capable of being the best mum I can be instead I have been tarnished with stigma. Ironically, my sister experienced a similar situation to me, depression and so forth. Those two babies need to be with their mum, not someone who appears to be selfish, greedy (money wise) and just plan heartless.

  4. Sara says:

    Me again! I even wrote Dr Phil a letter awhile ago asking for his help (I never had the nerve to send it though). So, I’m grateful for the opportunity to watch Dr Phil, especially when it is about anything that I relate to and have another “aha” moment. Gotta love that! Oh and just for the record – NOT ALL parents who have a mental illness are bad, neglectful abusive parents, sadly it does occur – but not all are like that. Please don’t fuel the stigma.

  5. Merissa says:

    I agree with many people in stating that Shelly’s intentions were malicious. Just because someone has a mental disorder does not mean that she cannot care for the child or show the child love. I believe that she is doing a job, to conceive children for women who cannot do so and get paid for it. It’s not in her right to decide who gets to keep the child based on her opinion or even the law.

  6. Patricia says:

    I totally agree that the babies belong to their biological parents.There has to be something that we can do to help Amy and Scott get their kids back!

  7. Beth says:

    I have to say alot actually. I was a recent surrogate for a couple,anonymous egg and his sperm. I carried their Twin boys for 7 1/2 months. They changed into horrible ungrateful self centered people. They spoke to me 5 times through out my whole pregnancy,they never once asked how the babies were they only seen me 1 time pregnant. They complained about pregnancy expenses. When we promised to keep in touch so my 3 small children wouldn’t get confused they agreed. They only paid our lawyer to do agreement, so we suffered with no lawyer throughout entire time,not knowing he wasnt our lawyer. Its illegal in Canada to compensate a surrogate however agreement stated any expenses due to pregnancy and lost wages were to be covered. They came to the hospital 1 time and their first time seeing the ultrasound pics of their boys ,she threw them on the floor like trash. I wrote many emails asking why they were treating me and my family like this,and why they showed no interest in their unborn babies…no response! I went into preterm labor at 29wks phoned them right away my husband and I told them that if they didn’t et to hospital we would be the ones making medical decisions if they were born. The intended father stated and I quote “we wouldn’t want to be faced with those decisions either or have baby with a disability!” it was sick and cruel. The twins were born July 8 2012, and the hospital social worker informed children’s aid of these parents duet their lack of compassion. Baby “b” was born with a broken femur bone from doctors pulling him out of me. They transferred babies to another hospital behind my back. They NEVER ONCE said THANK YOU, I gave them 2 lives and no appreciation. I then gathered all my lost wages emailed them the total (I was off work from high risk pregnancy and bed rest) they never responded. We then called them…they said “what you put us through your not getting your lost wages cover, so have fun being a low income family and take us to court!” my 3 little girls of my own were put through so much while I was carrying, my husband and myself were put through so much. I am still today suffering from this physically,mentally,financially, and emotionally. So please do not think you know someone,they can change. Really take all the necessary precautions before becoming or thinking of becoming a surrogate…you will never get the time back to change it!!!! Thank you to everyone who actually read all of this.

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