A Family Divided Part 2

A Family Divided Part 2
Dr. Phil partners with a family in crisis.
Last week, Dr. Phil gave Alexandra a set of questions that would help her decide whether or not to keep the baby. She answers three of them:


Dr. Phil: Are you prepared to end your adolescence?
Alexandra: No. I'm only 15 and still have growing up to do.
Dr. Phil: Are you prepared to make sacrifices over the next 20 years?
Alexandra: I feel like I can make certain sacrifices, but I'm not sure about which ones.
Dr. Phil: What is the impact of raising this child on the people that you love?
Alexandra: I know it makes things a lot more difficult for my family.

Alexandra, who was leaning toward giving the baby up for adoption, tells her mom that she's changed her mind and wants to "wear" the decision to keep the baby. Dr. Phil had advised Alex to "wear a decision" for a week before making a decision about her baby's future.


"If you decide that you want to keep the baby, and I become emotionally attached to this child, and care for it, and start loving it, and you decide you want to put it up for adoption, then you're playing with people's emotions," says Erin. "And that is hard."

In an Apple iChat AV video conference with the family, Dr. Phil asks Alexandra why she changed her mind about wearing the decision to give the baby up for adoption.


She says that seeing her baby on the sonogram at the doctor's office made her feel closer to the baby. "It was pretty much more emotional," she says. "I felt more loving toward the baby."


Katherine tells Dr. Phil she doesn't think it's fair for her parents to have to take care of a third child. "They already had their children," she says, "so why do they need to raise it?"


"I'm going to quit my job and be a stay-at-home dad," says Martin. "If we decide to keep the child, we would have to basically raise the child until Alexandra finished college and got a job to support herself and the baby."


"That's something you better think about," Dr. Phil responds.


Erin disagrees. "I don't think it's fair that if we've been caring for this child for four or five years, that suddenly we're going to hand this back to Alexandra for her to take over," she says.

After listening to each member of the family voice opinions on whether or not Alexandra should keep her baby, Dr. Phil says: "I don't hear anybody talking about the baby's rights, the baby's interests, what's best for the baby...


"Is it just me, or is everybody worried about how it affects you, and ignoring the baby's best interests?" he asks.

"Six months from now when you get your figure back and your energy back and boys are calling, you're going to want to get back to your life," Dr. Phil tells Alexandra.


"Did you plan to have a baby at 42?" Dr. Phil asks Erin.


"No," she responds.


"Well you're getting ready to have a baby at 42," he continues.


Alexandra, joining the discussion via satellite as she is too pregnant to fly, defends her decision: "I may be young and I've never had kids before, but I'm not the type of person to run away from a situation ... if I choose to keep this baby," she says, "I will take care of it. I'm not afraid to get a job and try to support myself and this child. I'm just asking them for a little help."

 

Dr. Phil sends Alexandra a Baby Think It Over Doll, used by many U.S. schools to give teens a sense of what it's like to care for an infant. The electronic baby cries at intervals and has a computer program that monitors the mother's level of care.


When the baby cries for the first time, Erin shows Alexandra how to keep rocking it until it stops crying. Alexandra says the crying is "even more annoying than a normal baby's scream."


"No, honey," says Erin, "that's what happens."


It was a sleepless night for Alexandra who woke up every hour to tend to the crying baby. "It was kind of hard," she says. "Wow, this is actually what it would be like."

When Dr. Phil asks Alexandra where the baby is, she tells him that she turned the doll to an inactive mode to be able to come to the studio for the satellite taping.


"Are you telling me you turned the baby off?" asks Dr. Phil.


He says that her choice to turn it off "speaks volumes" about her readiness to have a baby.


"You have to make choices when you have a child and the child almost always wins if you're doing what you need to do. I really encourage you to turn the baby back on and leave the baby on, because you're just kidding yourself. When the actual baby is here, you can't turn it off," he says.

Defending his enthusiasm to keep the baby, Martin tells Dr. Phil that he never knew his biological father and doesn't want Alexandra's son to go through the same ordeal.


Dr. Phil tells him his reasons are selfless, but asks Martin to decide whether he wants to keep the child "to heal a need" or "to do what's best for the child."

Katherine is angry that Alexandra is receiving the bulk of their parents' attention because of her pregnancy. She has called Alexandra a "slut" and a "whore." Dr. Phil asks Katherine to look into the camera and tell Alexandra how she wants their relationship to be.


"I want you to be my friend, and I want to be your friend, and I love you so much and I'm sorry for all of those bad things that I did to you. I really am and I love you more than anybody," Katherine tells her older sister.


"I love you too," Alexandra tells Katherine, adding, "I need you to know that the things that I've done are wrong. I need you to be there to help me, to be supportive."

Dr. Phil tells the family that it's so important that decisions be made for the right reasons. He asks two questions that he hopes will bring them to the right decision.


1. What is in the best interest of the unborn child? What will give this child the best opportunity — long term — to have a meaningful, fruitful, rewarding life?
2. What is in the best interest of Alex?


"That's such a hard question to answer," says Martin. "There's really no right or wrong."


Dr. Phil agrees, "There's not a right or wrong decision," he says. "Sometimes, you've got to pick the best of the bad alternatives."