Allison joins Dr. Phil via satellite from the jail where she is incarcerated.
He asks, “Why would a woman, who goes to the trouble of spending a significant amount of money, time, and effort to get pregnant, then turn around and go through even the consideration of placing these babies for adoption?”
“You wouldn’t. Nobody would do that,” she tells him. “I was so sick and so depleted that I felt like I was going to die, and there were some moments when I wanted to die because I was so sick. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t. I had to bring those children into this world, and it took everything out of me to carry twins and to survive with hyperemesis, with the vomiting of the blood and the severe acid reflex. Both babies were breech, so I was in pain all the time.”
“You are vomiting blood, you cannot sleep, you cannot eat, and you have bleeding ulcers, esophageal tears and you’re hospitalized and put on I.V. nutrition at that point, and it occurs to you that you may not survive this pregnancy, that you may, in fact, lose your life through the course of this pregnancy,” Dr. Phil begins.
“Yeah,” Allison continues. “When I went to the hospital for the emergency hospitalization, I knew that if they sent me home that, without some other treatment, I would die.”
“Tell me about the 11-hour visit to the attorney’s office,” says Dr. Phil.
“It was a nightmare,” Allison explains. “I had no representation. I was down to about 108 pounds. My hair was thin. My hair was falling out because I was so malnourished. I was so sleep-deprived, and I begged so many times just to go home. ‘Please, just let me go home. Let me get some sleep … ‘”
Dr. Phil points out that Allison did ultimately sign the papers.
“I had signed two consent forms, and that was after I had been there about five-and-a-half hours,” she says.
Dr. Phil asks, “Why did you decide to call 911?”
“I was frightened beyond words,” she says. “I couldn’t leave. I wasn’t strong enough to carry two babies and two car seats. I didn’t really know what I was doing, and then he took my papers from me, and then I said, ‘Please give them back,’ and he wouldn’t give them back.”
Allison says she managed to retrieve those papers, but then three days later, she signed another consent form.
“Why should you have these babies back?” asks Dr. Phil.
“Because it’s obvious that the consent was obtained with pressure tactics, by licensed professionals who should have never put me in that position.”
Dr. Phil says, “You’re saying this is an illegal possession of those children by these people because you were forced to do this, you did this under duress?”
“Absolutely,” says Allison. “They knew I was at my weakest and my lowest point, and they took advantage of that.”
Dr. Phil notes that Allison took the babies during a visitation in December and failed to return them at the scheduled time.
“I took them to a place that I thought would be safe and good for all of us, and away from all the pressures of the legal system. We went north, up to Canada,” she says.
“You knew they would come looking for the babies. What was your long-term plan?” asks Dr. Phil.
“I didn’t have a long-term plan,” Allison says. “I just knew I needed to be with my children. I didn’t really know how it was going to turn out.”
“But you did place these children with another family for adoption, correct?”
“No, it’s not like that,” Allison refutes. “My signature was obtained involuntarily. I made that known immediately. My parental rights were never terminated. A half hour out of the parking lot, I said, ‘No,’ to the person who was driving, ‘Turn around. Let’s go back. That paper shouldn’t have been signed. It’s not what I meant to do. It’s not what I wanted to do,’ and I stopped everything before it started, so my parental rights are intact.”
Dr. Phil clarifies that in the state of Florida, adoptions include a three-day cooling off period ” but only if the baby is older than six months, which Allison’s babies were not.
“So, legally you didn’t have even five minutes to revisit your decision,” says Dr. Phil.
“No, I had to prove duress or fraud,” says Allison.
Dr. Phil asks, “Were you manipulated and coerced into this process?”
“Yes,” Allison says.
“But didn’t you breach the system? I mean, aren’t all bets off when you snatch these children and run across international borders?” asks Dr. Phil.
“As a mother, my interests were in protecting my children, their emotional health, their psychological health,” Allison explains. “And they needed to be with their mother, and we just needed some time. And I had tried for 16 months a talented legal team, and I still was not being given more than 48 hours every three weeks with my children.”
Dr. Phil says, “I know this was an act of desperation on your part. What was the moment in time when you decided, ‘I’m taking these babies and leaving’?”
“It was decided at that very last minute because it was something I never really wanted to do,” says Allison. “I wanted to win in court.”
“Do you regret taking those babies and making a run for it?” asks Dr. Phil.
“I haven’t even thought of that,” she says. “I just think of how much I
love them, and I think of how dear that week was that we had together.”
“If in fact you do regain custody of these babies, what do you think that will do to the parents who have been raising them, taking care of them, for these many months?” asks Dr. Phil.
“Well, they’re not parents, because I am the parent,” Allison clarifies.
“Is it fair to take them away from those people at this point when they have bonded with them?” asks Dr. Phil.
“Oh, absolutely, because they were not ” the best interest of the babies [is] to be with their mother,” says Allison.
“Well you, of course, know that this is a story that America will be divided about. There will be those who would say, ‘I could never give up the babies.’ There will be those who say, ‘Give these children back to their mother.’ I mean, this is clearly something that has two sides,” says Dr. Phil.
He asks Allison, “If you could say something to those babies now, something that you would want them, even at a heart level, to understand right now, what would it be?”
“That I love them,” she says tearfully, “that I loved them before they were even conceived. How I prayed for them for three years. I love them more than anything. I will do everything that I can to bring them home. They are so loved, and I want the best for them.”
“Do you believe that you will have those babies back with you?” he asks.
“Yes,” she says, “it’s been a long, hard road, but I do believe that when the right people understand this, and the right people look at all the evidence and hear the story that they will be returned to me and that through this ordeal, hopefully, good will come of it, and I will be able to keep this from happening to other people.”
Back in his studio, Dr. Phil says, “This is not an easy question. Having spent so many years in the legal arena, I know that there are two sides to every story. We have been talking about one side of it today. There are moral issues here. There are legal issues here. There are medical/scientific issues here that make this very complex. To look at it from the point of view of the couple that has these babies at this point, is it fair to take them away from them? I’m not suggesting that they did anything wrong in this process. I wasn’t there. I don’t know. Was there duress? Was there coercion? My point, from a psychological standpoint, is if you know someone is impaired, you know someone is in an altered state of consciousness, an altered state of reality to the point that they can’t make rational decisions, I don’t think that you hold them accountable for those decisions while they’re in that arena. That’s why we don’t let people who are severely depressed, severely in pain, severely debilitated make decisions. That’s why we try to protect them. From a psychological standpoint, I think that has to be revisited.”
He continues, “I absolutely do not believe that Allison is someone who should be in prison right now living in a jumpsuit in a cell. That just does not make sense to me. Does she have a case? I suppose the court is going to have to hopefully bring the wisdom of Solomon to this and make a decision about that.”
He turns to Allison’s attorney, who has taken a seat in the audience. “But, Kathleen, you’re telling me that it could be eight or nine months before this ever even gets to trial.”
She says, “Dr. Phil, we want the earliest possible trial date. We are confident that when thinking and feeling people learn this story and understand the gravity of the illness that is hyperemesis and its effect on cognitive, emotional and intellectual functioning, that Allison will be exonerated. So we want the most immediate trial date that we can get.”