Octuplets Mom: 6 Was Not Enough

Posted February 6, 2009 by

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It would have been hard to miss the story about Nadya Suleman and her octuplets this past week. Suleman is the 33 year-old single mom who gave birth to 8 babies with the help of in vitro fertilization. The kicker is that she already had 6 babies at home — also by in vitro fertilization.

She sat down and talked with Ann Curry of NBC and explained that she was an only child who loves children and always wanted a big family.

Whoa. Well, I guess now she’s got one! I’ve thought about her situation a lot over the past week or so. While I think she’s a little crazy to want 14 kids all under the age of 7, (I can barely keep my sanity with one!) when it comes down to it, I don’t think we have the right to tell anyone how many kids they can have.  But there are some questions that haven’t really been answered — Suleman says she implanted the remaining 6 embryos in the hopes of getting one healthy baby, but it’s my understanding that you usually only implant 3 at a time. So I do wonder why the doctors went along with that…do they have to do whatever a patient asks when it comes to fertility procedures? (The Medical Board of California is now looking into the case to see if this was a violation of standard of care in that state. Suleman told the Today Show she used the West Coast IVF Clinic in Beverly Hills.)

This story definitely raises a lot of questions. According to the article on MSNBC, Suleman’s publicist says she is now the “most sought after mother in the world.” (Yes, she has a publicist and is weighing book and TV offers, though she says she hasn’t made any decisions, other than wanting to care for her children.)

Would you watch her reality show? And where do you weigh in on this discussion?


Elisabeth Wilkins was the editor of Empowering Parents and the mother of an 10-year-old son. Her work has appeared in national and international publications, including Mothering, Motherhood (Singapore), Hausfrau, The Bad Mother Chronicles, and The Japan Times. Elisabeth holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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  1. janefairfax18 (Edit) Report

    I think it is great that she is making this decision for herself. She is going with what she wants, knowing all the facts. The more we can educate women about pregnancy and their options, the happier the world will be. Letting a woman know that what happens to her child is her choice is a wonderful message. Resources like pregnancy counseling are such a great help with this.

  2. momof three (Edit) Report

    I read through a lot of these comments. Some of these comments are very troubling. To be so opinionated of someone that you honestly don’t know. You can only go by what the news is covering. We shouldn’t judge anyone, that is not our job. That’s god’s job. Our job is to love one another in Christ and help each other out. I pray for everyone involved in the children’s lives. And for the children. God will take care of these children and that family. My mom always told me, ” God will not let anything happen to you that you can’t handle.” So, for the sake of this family and children, please pray for them. Not criticize them.
    These are all god’s children anyways, not hers. God has chosen her to raise them up to him. So, as a society we should naturally help her in her needs. God bless everyone.

  3. Trisha (Edit) Report

    The thing that I keep thinking about is that there are no daycare centers in this country that are allowed to have that ratio of caregivers to children Even if you take all the older kids out of he mix and only think of the 8 infants to one caregiver that is still too high of a ratio to be allowed by law. I feel sorry for the kids and grandparents. I know that no families are “normal” but she has guaranteed these kids will have a very abnormal life.

  4. erin (Edit) Report

    I’m reading all of these comments and wondering how many of you live in California? I do. Guess who’s going to foot the bill for these 14 kids? California taxpayers. Has anyone heard the dire situation our state is in? We are flat broke. My school district just closed 2 elementary schools and still have millions of dollars to cut.
    I wanted a big (4) family but realized 2 was all we could afford. I’m married to a Doctor and I run our office.
    Personally, I think anyone like this should be steralized and not impregnated. Or pay for the kids yourself. I can’t afford it!

  5. Sherry 09 (Edit) Report

    I think it is a bitter-sweet situation where these children are concerned. I say this because children are a precious gift from the Lord. However I think the doctors should have considered the risk that the mother would be taking and only implanted no more than two embryos. I am certain they knew her marital status,and precious delivery of children. Therefore someone helping with her medical procedure should have been discussing with the mother concerns about limiting the amount of embryos because she has to provide for her other children and the additions to her family. It is true it’s a person’s business how many children they have but they must always consider the well- being for all that are involved. I hope the mom has a lot of support because she has eight babies that are still in crital condition. The mother’s love along will not be able to care for all her children, she will need outside assistance and support from others. Her life is in the eyes of the public and that can be harsh. Everybody talking about her and her babies should just pray for their success. She can not undo what’s been done. My prayers are for this young mother’s emotional well-being.

  6. GrandmaK (Edit) Report

    Yes, the children are here. Yes, they do and will need care more than ever. Those who want to donate in whatever manner they feel appropriate can certainly do so. Those children will certainly need it. For a much greater voice please consider this approach:
    Not only refuse to watch any reality show, purchase any book, or participate in any ‘narcissistic’ revenue stream the birth mother has in mind but more effectively boycott any and all advertisers and/or the network/publishing companies that provide the venue. Yes, it may cause some discomfort not to use our favorite products, shop our favorite stores/websites, or watch our favorite show. This approach has proven to have a tremendous impact.
    The long term impact on our society, on so many impressionable young folks, of ‘glamourizing’ this approach to motherhood, fame, and income-production will be much more devastating than any dollar amount spent on the care of these 14 children. Please don’t let this fall from your radar screen.

  7. Elisabeth Wilkins, EP Editor (Edit) Report

    An update on the Suleman story: last week, Carole Lieberman, an LA-area psychiatrist who has her own radio show, filed a complaint against the octuplets mom for her “inability to care for her 14 children,” and recommended that child services step in and take action before the babies leave the hospital. Lieberman said the babies are in “physical and psychological danger,” and that Suleman has a “severely narcissistic personality…and lacks the means to care for her 14 children, both financially and emotionally.” You can read the full story here:


  8. mommacarlson (Edit) Report

    I think she will not be able to take care of that many children even if she has help by her parents and some friends unless she has alot of friends. This time of their lives is probably the easiest for her, when you think about it, what about when they start crawling and walking, how is she or they going to keep up. I think she needs to stay private and take all the help she can get for the kids sake. I think she’s a bit unstable and selfish. My thoughts are that she could give them up for adoption but I don’t know if that would be best for them in the long run. I just don’t know, it’s so bizarre and kinda sad. She actually makes me angry but now that the kids are here, they need to be helped. She should be made to attend parenting classes, because her so called love for these kids is not all they need. They need structure, food, clothes, medical attention, a sense or self worth and the list goes on and on. I really can’t even imagine what it will be like in a couple of years.

  9. chinamom (Edit) Report

    I agree with most of the comments. I am a single mom who adopted from China. I worked two jobs for two years to afford to adopt. China’s one child policy caused 100,000 baby girls to be abandoned and countless to be disposed of through abortion or genocide. The Chinese social security system is based on the males taking care of their aging parents. That thought process is thousands of years old and is hard to overcome. Our welfare system is relatively young and the belief system that it is owed could be overcome.

    As far as Suleman’s disability due to a back injury. It must not be too bad since she was able to carry a pregnancy with 8 fetuses for 31 weeks and still be able to walk.

    What bothers me the most is how representative this type of behavior and its consequences are in this day and time. Me, me, me. I want babies so I get babies. This woman expects a handout and she will get it too. She is irresponsible and is must another role model for the belief system that no one in this country is responsible for their actions. Our country is bankrupt and is going to be in the red another trillion dollars. There are no incentives to get off welfare or to be a contributing member of society. Health care costs are out of site. Millions of Americans cannot afford insurance and go without. I require an extremely expensive medication, and I just don’t take it. I cannot imagine seeking out a situation that would cost me thousands of dollars just to feed my ego. I think this woman’s behavior just intensifies the hopelessness that is spreading across America.

    As far as her master’s degree, unfortunately, counseling programs are no longer allowed to screen applicants for fitness to practice in the field. If they did, they would be sued and lose. An applicant would have to be severely mentally ill or a current substance abuser to be denied entrance into most programs. Even with a master’s degree, Suleman will never be able to support 14 children without help. We all know this.

    As others have pointed out, Suleman is already putting her needs ahead of her children. Acrylic nails, obviously injected lips, having eight babies at one time, and on it goes.

  10. Teresa (Edit) Report

    I don’t think human beings were meant to have litters. Had God meant for us to have litters, he would have made it biologically routine for us to have them — as in, quintuplets without the use of fertility drugs would be the norm, not the exception.

    That being said, I don’t have a problem with folks that choose to have large, or even exceptionally huge (ie. the Duggar family, who now have 18 kids) families. There are plenty of families out there like the Duggars, who for, religious reasons, have decided to have large families — as many children as God will allow them to have. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s not what I want to do, but it takes all kinds to live in this world, and I don’t criticize. But most of those good families have also made themselves accountable to and for their children. They do not depend on goverment support to raise their large families. Now there are some renegade families who generationally have learned to bilk the system (ie those polygamist families who have learned that the first legal wife can’t get benefits, but because the other wives are illegal in the eyes of the law, they can get benefits because they are technically legally single mothers with no actual traceable income), but they are the exception, not the rule.

    I also don’t have a problem with folks wanting to increase their families through fertility treatment. It’s not the way I would choose to go, because there are plenty of children out there that need adopting. I have no real need to spread my biological seed, so to speak. So when my husband and I became pregnant twice, after 20 years of infertility, it was more of a surprise to me than anyone else. We didn’t try either time.

    But either way, aside from the medical ethics issue, which is in the medical licensing board’s domain, the problem here is that this particular woman can’t even support the 6 children she had prior to having the octuplets. I think that’s the key here — this Suleman woman can’t support 14 children. She is unemployed. She lives in a small, 3 bedroom home. She is currently on goverment assistance to even feed the 6 children she had before she gave birth to the octuplets. And honestly, I am pretty sure at this point that she is consciously, deliberately and expertly working the system. She herself gets disability benefits due to her “back injury”. Several of her current children get disability benefits because of their issues — I think one is has been diagnosed autistic, if I remember correctly, and several others have some other kinds of disabilities that they get benefits for. So she is already not only familiar with the goverment financial assistance programs available to her, she is using them as much as she can. I believe that she will ask for and get more financial assistance for the 8 new ones. Plus, she is likely looking for someone to give or finance a larger house for her — let’s face it — 14 children don’t fit in a small, 3 bedroom home. It’s almost impossible to fit the original 6 children in that home.

    Additionally, the only person who appears to be available to help this woman take care of all of her children is her Mother. Fourteen children under age 7 is a full time job for anyone, and then some. Eight infants and a couple of toddlers is more than any two people can handle. 2 sets of hands are just not enough to handle feeding and changing diapers, holding and calming 10 children under age 2 for 24 hours a day. The law even limits the number of infants that can be cared for by any adult in a daycare setting, because they set a minimum standard of care. They have to sleep sometime. And who is going to take care of the children then? Because without the income, paying for daycare isn’t an option anyway.

    I think that our lawmakers need to consider developing a system that in some way has negative consequences for people who try to make a living at working the social welfare system by having more children. If they can pay for them, fine. But if they are already in enough of a financial bind that they have to receive help from the goverment, then there should be negative consequences for them having any more children and adding to that burden to the state.

    I also think there needs to be a system of negative consequences for people who claim to be disabled but are not truly disabled. If an able bodied, able minded person is getting disability benefits, that’s not right. It’s like the person who claims to have a back injury that makes them unable to work, but then insurance investigators video tape them playing football or basketball, or carrying a load of groceries into their home. If they can do that, they are not injured enough that they can’t work. They are committing insurance fraud. If she is so disabled by her back injury that she can’t work, then she also is unable to care properly for her children, because a true back injury won’t let you pick up a 20 lb baby. So if she is able to pick up her babies to change their diapers and play with them, then she is not disabled enough with her back injury to NOT be able to work.

    Just my two cents worth, but there you go. The state needs to remove the kids (all of them) at the first sign that this woman is neglecting them, and then they need to terminate her parental rights if she fails to meet the standards that the rest of us are required to meet to care for our children, within a year of them being removed. Then just maybe the children will have a chance with families that can love them and support them properly. I know I sound harsh, and there are plenty of parents who CAN take care of their large families without neglecting them. But this woman won’t be able to — she has already proven that she can’t even take care of the 6 she had before this. She claims that she is studying for her master’s degree in therapy. How in the world does she think there will be enough hours in the day to take care of 14 children and still complete the coursework and thesis necessary to get a master’s degree?

    This is a sad and complex case, and I know I don’t know all the facts, but I am just very concerned for all of these children. It’s not their fault they have been dealt those cards. But their mother very deliberately set her plans in motion, with flagrant disregard for the wellbeing of her existing family. There has to be some kind of law that addresses that. I hope.

  11. Sue in WA (Edit) Report

    My dh and I were just talking about how when our two kids joined our family 18 months apart, we didn’t really feel the financial impact. We have been a one income family since the oldest was born. Now that braces, special doctors, and college for 2 starts in 5-6 years, we are feeling it. It is much easier to get hand-me-downs when they are younger. There will come a time when this woman who loves her babies and children so much will find it financially difficult to raise them. I pray there will be family, friends, and church members who will help them along the way.

  12. Brooke (Edit) Report

    I think she looks like Angelina Jolie. Maybe she is trying to copy her life.

    She just started a website that accepts Visa/Mastercard to raise money for the kids.

    I worry about those children and how they will be penalized by their mother’s actions. That is the saddest thing. Like Dr. Joan said, the deed is done, the important thing now is to make sure her children are being cared for.

  13. MplsVala (Edit) Report

    The truly frightening thing about Ms. Suleman’s ambitions is that she is that she aspires to become a therapist. On what planet is this lady suitable for guiding others through mental difficulties? Her own mental state is questionable. She told one reporter that she hoped to make a living through being famous for her children and sited examples of others who have managed it. Perhaps that’s why all those “beauty” expenses seemed so vital for her.

    It is hard to imagine how else she expected to support so many. And she is killing her parents and robbing them of their golden years. While her mother’s situation is horrible, what she did to her father may be even worse. Her poor father had to return to Iraq as an interpreter to help foot the bill for all these kids. The money she used to pay for the proceedures came from a disability payment for an on-the-job injury lifting a patient. Rather than investing in the six kids she already had, perhaps contributing some rent, she blew the money on becoming more newsworthy.

    Like the other commenter above, it strikes me as crazy to say that it was God’s will that taxpayers pay the enormous costs of the care these children need and she won’t be able to provide. The problem here is mixing religion and science in your own selfish fashion to get the result you want, without regard to the needs of anyone else. If she wanted to do it God’s way, she should have accepted that her body was not capable of reproducing. If she wanted to go the science route, she should have done the reduction. The last multiple birth case that made big headlines which involved a couple also too religious to do a reduction (but not enough to accept His will about their fertility) was heart-rending. All of the babies died eventually, after weeks or months of suffering. (They at least had insurance and an employed father.) You’d think that would serve as a cautionary tail; but, of course, her real goal was to generate an outpouring of donations and having just two or three more kids wouldn’t have done that for her.

    However, as despicable as her behavior has been, making death threats is just bad. While the kids might well be better off without her, it is too late to fix this one. We’re stuck trying to save as many as we can, no matter what it costs. I think the suggestion that CA sue the fertility clinic for the expenses is an exellent one. But her clinic was one of the worst in the world by the stats, so they probably couldn’t pay either. Ironically, Suleman is their greatest success story. What a sad mess.

  14. Elisabeth, EP Editor (Edit) Report

    Thanks, everyone, for weighing in on this debate. Your comments have definitely made me think in new ways about this situation, which is complex at best.

    Some more news about the octuplets: I read today that the births and hospital care of Nadya Suleman’s babies will cost taxpayers upwards of 1.3 million dollars. (This is according 2006 estimates for care.) As Single Mom of 2 and others have said, the state of California will most probably be footing the bill for much of her children’s upbringing, unless Suleman is able to generate enough income to take care of her family on her own.


    And finally, the mother of the octuplets has reported that she has been receiving death threats. If it’s true, I find this very sad and alarming. Agree with her or not, this is just plain scary and wrong.


  15. eileen (Edit) Report

    CH, I’m not sure what you mean when you say without the usual 8 hospital bills. These babies were born 9 weeks prematurely. Each day in the NICU is costing a minimum of $1000 a day. Multiply that by 8!!! And she was in the hospital for weeks before that. Most babies and moms are in and out in two to three days.
    I think the State of California (meaning all of us taxpayers), who is/will be paying for these babies, should sue that infertility clinic for the entire cost of raising these babies and paying their medical bills.

  16. Connie Hunter, BA, ChT (Edit) Report

    Actually, Suleman saved our society a great deal of money by giving us 8 new citizens without the usual 8 hospital bills incurred along with what usually would be 8 new Moms using up 8 hospital beds. The USA is blessed and the Kaiser Medical doctors got to show the superior skills of American physicians. ch

  17. Jaybo (Edit) Report

    I think she is just looking for a way to make money. I realize that sounds harsh, but she is a selfish and narcissistic. When I hear that she is a good mother, I have to wonder about the living conditions and the fact that she has NO income. How was she planning to care for them? Despite, what she thinks, food stamps, disability and other is welfare. I’m all for a hand up for those who need it. But, you need to be willing to contribute something and not just sit back and wait for someone to pay you money for your stupidity. I would absolutely not watch any reality show that she was a part of, and would boycott the station that would air such a travesty.

  18. aanatami (Edit) Report

    I feel that this mom has been attacked when she should be helped and supported. I wonder if anyone who criticizes this mother would have the guts to go up to one of her kids and tell them they should have never been born. They should find a woman that had 14 abortions and question her about her reproductive choices. She has a website where you can give donations, I encourage anyone who truly cares to start there.

  19. pattylee (Edit) Report

    she says she loves kids and all she ever wanted was to be a mom and have a large family…but, she also says she is going back to college to get her Master’s Degree…which will require a lot of her time (a whole lot I’ve been told)so how can she give love & care to all these kids?
    Guess she just wanted to “have” them …sort of like having a TV, or a refrigerator, or a skirt or blouse, or some lipstick, or acrylic fingernails & big lips, or ______________(fill in name of any material thing). “Having” some kids does not necessarily include loving them via care, wisdom, morals, ethics, etc.

  20. evelyn (Edit) Report

    no, i would not read a book, watch a movie or reality show or anything on television about this selfish, irresponsible person who has had the freedom in this great country of ours to have fourteen children she cannot afford and cannot care for. it is my personal oppinion that the elevator in this building does not go all the way to the top. the ones who will suffer with disabilaties are the fourteen children, while their mother will apparently spend her life worming her way selfishly into the lime light wherever she can find it.

  21. Elle (Edit) Report

    As the second oldest of 14 children, I can say I loved being part of a large family, even though, yes, it did involve lots of babysitting duty.

    Nobody has a right to tell anyone how many children she can or cannot have. Evidently there is money somewhere for this woman since obviously she paid for IVF, which ain’t cheap.

    She obviously loves children and I have not heard anything about the first 6 being unhappy, unloved, or not taken care of properly. Her only mistake was getting in the public eye. Hopefully everyone will leave her alone to raise her kids. She wouldn’t be talking about books, etc., if the media hadn’t contacted her…greedy publishing media who will also make lots of money off her story.

  22. Ceci Davis (Edit) Report

    I would not watch her reality show or read her book. I
    agree with blkconservative. I heard that it costs about
    100 K plus to raise a child through high school. How in
    the world is she going to feed and clothe these children much less care for them. I consider her and the doctor
    very irresponsible.

  23. WifeAndMother (Edit) Report

    What is being missed in this discussion is the ugly reality of embryo reduction that customarily takes place in cases of in vitro fertilization.

    The normal practice is to implant all and then based on a preference factor “reduce” the number to what the patient wants. Thus, some live and others die based on what the patient was looking for — two girls, two boys, a boy and a girl, or just one of a particular gender.

    We have seen the erosion of the value of life for the past 4 – 5 decades. This is selective abortion and a practice that goes on day-in and day-out in our affluent society.

    The bright side (in the midst of an unnatural process) is that none of the eight had to face the “firing squad” of the abortionist’s knife.

  24. emtrainor (Edit) Report

    I don’t think having 14 children is anybody’s business. What becomes everyone’s business is when all 14 of those children were born premature, underweight and needing social services through Early Intervention (speech, physical, and occupational therapy). I have two special needs children, 4 years apart, and it is a significant financial burden to bring preemies and other children with disabilities (even mild ones) to where “typical” children should be by the time they start school at age 5. Then it is a drain on the school district budget to help any child with a disability to attain the same education as anyone else.

    All of these costs are borne not by those responsible for making the decision to create these children, but on all the rest of us. THAT is why it is wrong and unethical and I hope the medical boards take notice to prevent this from happening again.

  25. blkconservative (Edit) Report

    No, I will not watch a movie, reality program or read her book. Many have said that it is her choice but when her choice infringes on costs to others there lies the concern that I have. Now that the children are here, I pray that they can be raised as normal as possilbe.

  26. Single Mom of 2 (Edit) Report

    As a single Mom myself, I KNOW this woman cannot raise 14 children –or even 6 –without taxpayer help and welfare (her publicist just announced today that she IS on food stamps and her 2 oldest children receive social security disability payments; she just doesn’t happen to consider that “welfare”); without continuing to take advantage of her aging parents (who care for the kids and who claim to not received a dime from her for rent) who are not supportive of her choice to have multiple children but help her because she is their only child; and without subjecting her own children to an even less “connected” relationship with their parents than she had. She even chased away the father. Her mother says he wanted to marry her but she just wanted his sperm (her words) so the kids have no father to help raise them or to “connect” with..

    She is ONE person and cannot physically care for that many children on her own -either physically, financially, or emotionally. To say that she wanted to do this on her own as a single Mom is ridiculous. She did not manage the pregnancy on her own (her parents cared for the other 6 kids and she had a team of dozens to hep care for her before and during the delivery) and she will not manage to raise these children on her own (she admits she’ll need help from her parents, friends, and church members plus she’ll continue to take the welfare). PLUS she is talking about continuing school and working which will only exacerbate the problem of attending to these children’s emotional, medical, and academic needs even if she manages to feed, house, and clothe them with an income.

    I have 2 special needs children and this woman has at least 2 and some of the octuplets will likely have them too and I can assure you that this woman was NOT thinking about the BEST interests of any of these children as she continued to get pregnant over and over again. Sure, she’ll do her best to raise them but that is NOT the same thing as doing what was in their bext interest as she went along.

    This woman is not a good parent, not a good daughter, and certainly not a good citizen. She could not be more irresponsible in any way. Is she mentally troubled? I don’t know but she sure has some issue that her children and the taxpayers will suffer for.

    God Bless her and the children and I hope her church are in it for the next 18 years to help these children but I will not be watching any reality show or reading any book filled with her rationalizations or mind-boggling self-induced challenges.

    It’s a miracle all 8 children survived but a tragedy that they were born to this woman.

  27. craftygirls (Edit) Report

    I am disgusted by this woman and her absolute selfishness. Yes, of course everyone should have the right to have children – they are a gift and a blessing. But I am curious as to how a single mom will give emotional and financial support to 14 kids. I find it hard enough for both my husband and I to do that for our two children.

    The fact that she had these children is not her own business either. They have all been born with life long health problems resulting from being born too small. This will put a strain on the health care system as well as the children. Why would any caring mother opt to take such chances with her kids’ health? There is no reason that more than 3 embryos needed to be implanted. People have said that this is God’s will and that these babies are a gift from God??? Actually God’s will seemed to have been that she should not have been able to have any children on her own. It is the will of science and one incredible confused and selfish woman. Perhaps if she had adopted 14 children who needed a home and love we would feel differently. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. How does she plan to care for 14 children on her own with no job?? Not to mention the lifelong health expenses that will plague her. I feel very sorry for these children who will grow up in that environment.

  28. Elisabeth, EP Editor (Edit) Report

    The clinic that did the procedure is now being investigated by the California Medical Board. Personally, I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that by implanting all those embryos, you are knowingly endangering the lives of the babies and the mother. (Isn’t that why doctors stopped doing that in the ’90s??) As far as how this woman funded the procedure, or how she will raise her kids, I don’t think those facts are out there yet — but I have heard her quoted as saying she is not on welfare and does not intend to go on it. (The question still remains, though, and it concerns me as well.) Toni, while I still think we should not get into the business of restricting the amount of kids people have, I do agree that the doctors should not have gone ahead with that procedure. The bright side to all of this may be that we start thinking more about ethical standards when it comes to these types of procedures, and creating some rules around what can and can’t be done.

  29. Cathee (Edit) Report

    Has anyone noticed that not only does she resemble Angelina Jolie, but that in earlier pictures of her she not only has lighter hair but much smaller lips. Seems to me that IVF isn’t the only “surgical procedures” she’s had. Additionally, she has brand new acrylic nails, which aren’t cheap. Not only does she not have a job, but has professed that earlier pregnancies have exacerbated her “back injury” for which she is, or has, received disability pay for. How can she care for 14 children with such severe back problems and no job.

    This issue is beyond whether or not we have the right to tell someone how many children they can have. The question in my mind is why? She either has a severe psychological need to be “Angie” or is very clever and is looking for her 15 minutes of fame and all the money she can collect for it. She says she would do anything for her children, and yet she can’t even afford to feed them. Two months away from the original 6 children seems detrimental to their well being.

  30. fedexair06 (Edit) Report

    Remember China. China restricted a family to one child and how many innocent baby girls were killed because the parents wanted a boy to carry on the name and be able to work. This is America the land of the free no one should be told how many children they are allowed to have. We can all say she exhibited poor judgement but it runs deeper than that. Why does she have the need for lots of babies? Does she go into a depression when she doesn’t have to change diapers? I don’t know anything about the medical side of this but it seems to me that anyone undergoing these types of procedures should have to go through some psychological testing first. I was adopted and I know my parents had to go through numerous councelling sessions and interviews before the adoption could be approved. The interview her mother gave said that her daughter has been unemployed for a while, intermittantly attending school. Welfare is a different ball game. The system has been twisted and abused for numerous years. The intent of the program was to help out families short term not forever! We really need to go back to the original writings. The government needs to impose a 6 month limit on benefits, if you can’t find a job in 6 months then you are not looking hard enough. I have a hard enough time paying for my own child I can’t afford to pay for everyone else’s as well.

  31. MK (Edit) Report

    There are many people with religious convictions against destroying an embryo. It seems natural to believe that any of the embryos that aren’t viable would be naturally eliminated… through God’s process. As carrying 8 babies is dangerous to both the mom and the babies, its obvious to me that God has a plan for these children. Each of us are gifted with exactly what we need. I think it would be smarter for us all to pray for this woman and her children that their needs will always be met and they will have the strength to get through their struggles while not losing their sanity.

  32. Laura (Edit) Report

    I would not watch her reality show. I think the mother
    was very irresponsible. She already ahd six children to care for and it sounds like the grandmother was taking
    care of those children as well as her daughter. It was very selfish of her to put more of a burden on the grandmother. I also think the doctor and clinic should be investigated.

  33. Jackie (Edit) Report

    This mother has shown extremely poor judgment, immaturity, and selfishness. Since it appears the taxpayers will be footing the bill for all 14 children – and her future children – there should be caseworkers assigned to closely monitor their care and welfare. Or else have all the children taken away from her. Definitely, her tubes should be tied – by the doctor who implanted her. He should be brought up on misconduct charges.

  34. Toni Vitanza (Edit) Report

    I also have an issue with what amounts to — basically — emotionally blackmailing your own mother to serve as a nanny to the children you shouldn’t have! THAT woman is the victim here, along with taxpayers and the children who get to suffer with health issues and lack of attention and financial support. I personally think that we should give welfare payments to ONE child per woman. Any more, YOU get to pay for, and if you can’t — if you won’t — if you don’t — well, that’s what foster care is for. And if your child, for whom you’re getting payments, HAS a child, THAT child doesn’t get a check either. I bet — no, I live in South Carolina now, and I KNOW — a system like that would make people think twice, and supervise their sexually active kids a bit better.

  35. ToniM (Edit) Report

    Annie, I appreciate your comments. I have adopted three children and am teaching them to love and respect each other and care for one another as a family unit. I agree with you that we shouldn’t be the great focus of everyone’s attention. However, I do believe that children require individual time and attention, even on a smaller basis, to facilitate their becoming secure and healthy individuals. Everything in balance.

  36. Toni Vitanza (Edit) Report

    Elisabeth, I have an issue with one of your statements. I’m pro-choice, but I DO think we have the right to tell people how many children they can have, IF and WHEN their kids are responsible for raising our insurance premiums disproportionately or using our tax dollars! And while she might have the right to have as many kids as she wants, the doctors also have the right to REFUSE SERVICE. The doctor who implanted 8 embryos at once performed a blatantly unethical act. Apparently he/she did it for the money! And where did she GET the money? Depending on who you listen to, she’s either unemployed or a fairly low wage-earner. Did she go to Mexico for cheapie IVF? And then expect AMERICAN taxpayers to foot the hospital bill for their not-so-cheapie births?
    I encourage all those who have an issue with this — and I’m one — to boycott any book, movie, TV show, ANYTHING, that has the potential for enriching this woman materially or feeding her narcissism!
    Fertility doctors should enact a new policy…Once you’ve been scientifically assisted to have two children, we’re done helping you and on to the next case. If you want more than that, adopt.

  37. Annie (Edit) Report

    Hm…. I grew up with ONE brother and felt like I didn’t get enough attention and wasn’t loved enough. I think that is just human nature. Where do we get the idea that we SHOULD be the great focus of parental (and everyone else’s) attention, anyway? In years past there wasn’t as much selfishness in families…but more a sense of everyone – parents and siblings – bonding together to care for ONE ANOTHER. It bothers me that GETTING parental attention seems to be the goal, rather than learning to GIVE attention – not only to siblings but to parents, grandparents, and others. We have all become so darned selfish in this society!

    Be that as it may, as a child I LONGED for brothers and sisters and as an adult, since my brother passed away I REALLY wish I had some family. So, we have adopted four children in addition to the two grown ones. Yes; I suppose that with each new child, the others get slightly less attention. But I hope to teach them to love one another not to simply receive love.

  38. ToniM (Edit) Report

    I grew up in a family with eight children. My parents adopted six out of the eight, I being one of them. Every time they adopted another or took in a foster child, I felt I received less and less of their time and attention. My mother never sat with us and played a game or talked. She was always busy taking care of the “babies.” That’s what she loved. But babies grow! I was the oldest of six girls, so I was the appointed babysitter for all of my teenage years. It’s easy to understand why I left home at age 18 to live on my own. I always felt my mother had an emptiness inside her that she tried to fill with babies. Even now at age 70 she still cares for her grand babies.

    I don’t judge a mother for having 14 children. I do question her motive and her ability to provide the emotional care required to raise a healthy child.

  39. Lina (Edit) Report

    What I haven’t read anywhere is how this affects the grandmother. Nadya Suleman’s mother has said that her daughter was “obsessed” and with quotes that are more recent, to say that she is unhappy with her daughter’s choice to have more babies in addition to the 6, is an understatement. And I think she has EVERY right to voice it and be unhappy because Naday Suleman is living in her mother’s house, and it is her mother who takes care of the first 6 children while Nadya has been in the hospital for weeks before giving birth, and now is at the hospital for hours visiting her new babies. The grandmother is also paying for everything. I can’t imagine being done raising children, and suddenly, when you are supposed to enjoy being a grandmother (meaning, at the end of the day, you can give them back to mom and get yourself some rest), she suddenly has to help raise not 1, 2 or 3 grandchildren, but 14!!! It’s insane. The truth is that for the sake of those children AND the grandmother, I hope Nadya gets enough help financially (as well as makes good money herself) so that the grandparents can be just grandparents…not caretakers of 14 children.

  40. Elisabeth, EP Editor (Edit) Report

    Mdparent2: It’s an interesting point you bring up about caring for children in a large family. I also grew up with some kids who came from families of 10 or 12. Not only were they always feeling like they got the short end of the stick when it came to their parents’ attention, they also often reported having serious sibling rivalry issues. (And wouldn’t you? Can you imagine the level of competition??) The positives were “always having someone to play with” and getting into mischief with their sibs. I also I have to say that I know people who loved growing up in a huge family and had good experiences. I think in this woman’s case, however — having so many kids all under the age of 7, and as a single parent — just adds another level of difficulty and chaos to the whole situation. Like Kathy, I also think Nadya Suleman’s motivation, having all these children because she felt empty or lonely, concerns me. I sincerely hope she has other adults in her life who will step in and help.

  41. mdparent2 (Edit) Report

    I MUST say what everyone is thinking: how is a single mother feeding and clothing 6 children, let alone 14? Is she really able to address their psychological needs, or are these children being raised in a home where they are raised more by their siblings, rather than a caring adult? I don’t know, but hope she has LOTS of help from her community, and is independently wealthy. I would not watch her reality show, but knowing how much help multiples need by their families, church and community: time, respite, and emotional support (with my families that have just twins and triplets), I wonder whose best interest does she have at heart: her children, or her own selfish needs? I really hope that these children will be closely watched for signs of neglect. I have talked with multiple friends raised in families of 8 or 12: they expressed sadness and desire for more of their parent’s time and attention. And that’s with mom, dad, and grandparents involved. Look at experiences with orphanages vs. foster care: those caretakers are often very loving towards children (despite stereotypes), but cannot give them the love and attention that they need due to sheer numbers. Don’t take me wrong; I DO wish her well; but I fear for the children in her care…

  42. kathy pride (Edit) Report

    If she has a support system and family that can rally around her and help her; she is going to need lots of that, that would be ideal. As a writer, the book thing kind of makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. It really is all about platform…

    I don’t think judgement or condemnation helps anyone, and agree with Dr. Joan on that one. But I do question myself motivation. Even the motivation that she felt alone. We can’t really ever fill that emptiness through other people. I can’t imagine that many kids. I have two elementary school aged kids and they keep me hopping. I know I had a conversation with a friend who is a nurse midwife, who commented about the medical judgment of the group that implanted six embryos.
    As for a reality show, she has outdone Jon and Kate plus eight. I have a friend who knows a little more of their inside scoop and we’ll just say that things are not always what they seem.

    I would NOT watch the new reality show, but would hope she has lots of help,love, support and prayer.

  43. Louise Sanborn Report

    Well said, Dr. Joan. I also think it would be better for her and the kids if they aren’t raised in the public eye — that’s never seemed to work out very well for most people, as far as I can tell.

  44. Dr. Joan (Edit) Report

    I think this situation brings up a lot of good questions about ethics, choices, and the responsibilities of fertility doctors. All important issues that need to be discussed. However, as for this mom, the deed is done and now there are children to be cared for. I know there will be a national (if not international) condemnation and judgment of her, but I don’t see how that will help her cope now that the babies are here. I hope she can manage and is up for the job. My guess is she’ll have a lot of helping hands along the way. My thoughts are to leave her alone and let her do her job raising these kids.



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