Adoption, Part 1: Rachel

Placing Baby for Adoption
Dr. Phil talks with parents in different stages of the adoption process, and pre-teen children looking to be adopted.

Rachel is 16 years old, five months pregnant and living in a maternity home. After her baby girl is born in January, she plans on placing her for adoption. "Giving up my baby for adoption is the best thing because I'm only 16 years old. I haven't gotten out of high school," Rachel says. "It's hard for me to make that decision because my baby is a piece of me."

"This pregnancy, emotionally, has been quite a roller coaster ride," she says, noting that the hardest part is knowing that she will not be taking her baby home when she leaves the hospital. She knows that she is making the right decision, but wants to have an open adoption. "If my daughter ever came to me, I would want to explain to her that I did this so that she could have a loving family," Rachel explains. "I want my baby to have opportunities that I can't provide as such a young mom."

"Dr. Phil, can you help me find the right family to adopt my baby?" Rachel asks.

"The day we found out that Rachel was pregnant, I was stunned and in shock. It turned everything upside down," says Belinda,

Rachel's mom, who sent her to live in a maternity home the day after she found out Rachel was pregnant. "This was my only hope, my last chance to make things right," she explains. "Since this has happened, I have been an emotional basket case." Rachel's father is so angry that he hasn't had a significant conversation with her since she broke the news.

"My mom cannot handle the fact that I'm pregnant," explains Rachel, who admits to having communication problems with her mother.

"I was shoved to the side because I couldn't be dealt with at home. I felt very betrayed. I was pregnant and I needed my mom."

"It's hard not having Rachel home," Belinda tearfully admits. "What I hope comes from Dr. Phil and his help is that our family can be whole again."

Dr. Phil asks Rachel how she felt the day she was told she had to leave her house.

"I felt betrayed. By my mom," she says through tears.

Dr. Phil asks Belinda how she feels about her decision now.

"We did what was very best not only for Rachel, but for the other two girls," she says, referring to Rachel's 8-year-old and 4-year-old sisters. "There's history here with our daughter and she needs help. We love her and we're angry that it came to this ... we know she needs counseling."

Rachel interrupts saying, "We have issues. We can't communicate."

Dr. Phil reiterates that when Belinda found out Rachel was pregnant, the very next day she packed up her belongings and sent her away. "What was the urgency?" he asks.

Belinda explains that because of Rachel's two younger sisters, she took Rachel to her aunt's house, and also offered her the resources of a maternity home to help her make better choices.

Dr. Phil gives his opinion. "I think it is absolutely a good thing to do to get every resource that you possibly can to help and support your daughter," he says. "Calling her names and banishing her from the home in a split second is not my idea of

using all of your resources. That's my idea of bailing on her when she's in a tough spot."

Dr. Phil points out that this is a family problem, and not just Rachel's issue. Rachel made the bad choice by getting pregnant, but, he asks Belinda, "Do you think that it makes sense, in the throes of that, to yank her from all that she knows and her family and put her somewhere else? Do you think that's a constructive thing?" Dr. Phil confronts Belinda. "I have to tell you, I don't believe you're at peace with that decision."

"Rachel didn't get cast out of our home," Belinda says.

"I was told I was not to come home while I was pregnant because we have little ears and eyes by my sisters, and my problems are not at all what you guys have to deal with," Rachel says to her mom. "For you to say that I was not cast out of the house, you're denying it."

When Belinda insists that they need help, Dr. Phil asks, "I just wonder if the message to those [younger daughters] that are there is, 'If you mess up around here, you're gone'?"

"No," Belinda quickly replies.

"Wait a minute. You just said no like you know that in some way," Dr. Phil stops her. "How do you know that's not what they're


"They know that Rachel's not at home because she's pregnant, not because she got in trouble," Belinda explains.

"Isn't the truth that you were angry about this, you were ashamed about this and you unplugged from her and from this?" Dr. Phil asks Belinda.

"I have not been unplugging at all. I think what's happened with me is that I'm trying to make sure we make the very best decisions for Rachel. That we make the very best decisions for the little girls. That we try to get my husband and her to be able to speak to each other again, and I have to do this all on my own. And I feel like I may not be making all the right choices, in desperation to do what we know is best. We have her in an amazing maternity home that has home-schooling, and rules that she has to follow and counseling."

Dr. Phil gives Belinda his opinion about the situation and what her role should be. "Let me be very clear about something; I'm not trying to demonize you here. I think parents do the best they can with what they have at the time. And, I believe that you did the best you could with what you had at the time," he says.


He turns to

Rachel: "I think that you made some mistakes and you don't get a pass here. You went out and had sex and you were irresponsible with your body and you got pregnant."


Rachel agrees.

"What I want to be very clear about here is that, whenever someone, in this case your daughter, has this behavior that creates a bad result, then she is not some sacrificial lamb to be hauled to the altar of counseling and say, 'Fix my daughter.' She is a product of this whole family system. You have to have ownership in the problems just as you do, Rachel," he explains to them.

"This is a family situation," he tells Belinda. "I think you guys need to plug back in as a family and work through this process as a family. She didn't kill anybody. She didn't go out and become a terrorist. She made a bad mistake and got pregnant. That doesn't mean she's a horrible person that just gets sent away ... You're either going to be a part of the solution or you're going to be part of the problem."

"Do you feel like you've been banished and sent off?" Dr. Phil asks Rachel.

"I feel like I'm a slut. That people will think that I don't love my baby. That my mom is here but I don't feel like she really

gets it," a tearful Rachel says. She turns to her mom: "I love you. And it's so hard because I don't want to feel that way and I don't know what to do."

"Dr. Phil, that's one of the first times she's said she loved me for a long time," Belinda says through tears.

"I'm glad that you've had the courage to say it," Dr. Phil says to Rachel, and then turns to Belinda. "It's your job as her mother to embrace her and love her whether she's being loveable or whether she's not." He acknowledges that Rachel's pregnancy has created problems for the family, but they need to heal and move forward.

"At this point I don't think you should go home. I don't think you guys are ready to do this. Your husband has got to get back in the game here. Checking out is not an option. You've got to get involved here. You've got to embrace your daughter. You can love her without loving her decisions. This is a family situation, Belinda; it's not a Rachel situation," Dr. Phil says sternly.

"You're being very courageous to place the child for adoption," he tells Rachel. "That's your decision and if that's what it is, then I support that, and I'll help you find a family."