“They’re the joy of my life. They’re everything to me,” says Allison Quets of her 17-month-old twins.
News reports tell the tale of how her love for her children set in motion an extraordinary series of events that ended with Allison in jail and her children in the custody of another couple.
“The FBI and Canadian officials have joined the search for missing twins,” says one anchorwoman.
“Authorities think their biological mother kidnapped them,” says another.
“Allison Quets gave the twins up for adoption, but she changed her mind almost immediately.”
“Allison Quets now awaits trial for kidnapping in the Wade County jail.”
Allison’s sister, Gail, takes a look back. “My sister was incredibly happy when she finally became pregnant.” But the pregnancy came with a high monetary price: Allison had paid dearly to have in vitro fertilization. She continues, “Allison had been trying to get pregnant for a good two or three years. About a month into her pregnancy, she was nauseous pretty much all the time. Allison’s doctors told her that she had a condition called hyperemesis. She became so ill that she could not hold any food or liquid down, and the only nutrition that she was getting was through a pick line that was inserted near her heart. Almost every time I talked to her during those really terrible months of the pregnancy, she cried on the phone and told me that she thought she was going to die and that the twins might die as well. My sister had anticipated giving birth to her children thinking that she would be the strong and resourceful person that she’d been for her whole life. She never imagined the state that she would be reduced to by this disease.”
Allison finally gave birth by cesarean section on July 6, 2005 to two beautiful, healthy twins.
Allison’s lawyer, Kathleen, continues the story. “She was able to go home with them, but she remained very, very ill. She really began to give credence to the voices that told her, ‘You can’t raise these babies. You’re too sick.'”
After the twins were born, Allison’s former boyfriend introduced her to the Needhams, a couple who expressed some interest in adopting them. “She actually let the twins stay over night at the Needhams’ house so she could get a good night’s sleep,” says Gail. After the one-night sleepover, she and her former boyfriend met with their attorney. “She was quite ambivalent about moving forward with this adoption, and she signed some paperwork and then said, ‘Please give me that paperwork back. I’ve made a mistake.’ And she became so upset that she called 911.”
A recording of the 911 call conveys Allison’s nearly hysterical tone:
Allison: Yes, I need help please. I’m in an attorney’s office and I want a document back and he won’t give it to me.
Lawyer: It’s not your document.
Allison: It is my document, and he won’t give it to me.
Lawyer: It’s not your document.
Allison: Please, he won’t give it to me.
Operator: What kind of document is it, ma’am?
Allison: It’s an adoption document. He’s going to take my babies. He won’t give it to me.
Lawyer: We’re not taking your babies.
Allison: He won’t give me back the document. I signed it, and I was holding it ”
Operator: What is your name, ma’am? What is your name?
Allison: Allison. My name’s Allison. Please. Please. I want my document back. He won’t give it to me. Please. He won’t give it to me.
“After 11 hours in the lawyer’s office and pretty ugly treatment, she was driven home by her former boyfriend, and there she was in the apartment by herself with the two infants,” Gail continues. “She felt incredibly isolated, weak, overwhelmed, didn’t know what to do. Three days later, she returned to the lawyer’s office. She signed initial paperwork consenting to an open adoption. Then the very next morning she called the lawyers, called the prospective adoptive parents, said she’d made a terrible mistake, that she changed her mind, that she desperately wanted her children back and asked that they be returned to her, and the prospective adoptive parents refused. Allison was absolutely devastated and hysterical almost every day after she signed those papers and lost contact with her twins, but then ” I don’t know ” she pulled it out of somewhere, some sort of inner strength, and she started to fight. Allison hired several lawyers and did whatever she could within the system to get the kids back. Last December, Allison had the twins for visitation. She did not return them when she was expected to return them to the Needhams, and she was found five days later in Canada.”
Today, Allison is in a rural county jail in North Carolina awaiting trial for parental kidnapping. She was denied bail because the judge considered her a flight risk.
The bereft mother revealed her thoughts about the twins in a recent interview. “I think of their faces. I think of their eyes. I think of how they look at me. I think of how much,” she paused, fighting back tears, “I know they want me to hold them! And I can’t because I’m not there.”
Back in his studio, Dr. Phil begins by saying, “For people who don’t know, I want to be clear what we’re talking about here: Hyperemesis. We’re not talking about morning sickness here. We are talking about a severe, debilitating, dehydrating disease that can be fatal.” He turns to Gail, sitting beside him, and says, “Your position is that she was very severely debilitated and depleted during this period of time.”
“Unbelievably so. I’d never seen her in a condition like that before in her life,” Gail says. “It was the stress of the in vitro fertilization, getting pregnant, the stress of the horrific hyperemesis which kept her nauseous 24/7 for months, and months and months, then a cesarean section. They didn’t think they were going to make it out of the hospital. She was blood-transfused in the hospital, to come home in an incredibly weak and debilitated state, trying to take care of two infant twins and fearing that she would not be able to do it.”
Next, Dr. Phil turns to Kathleen. “Should she be in jail?” he asks.
“Well, if you’re asking me, the answer’s no,” she says. “I don’t think there is anything in the record that gives Allison the criminal mind or heart necessary to support these charges, and she has lived an upstanding, law-abiding life up until this point.”
“Did she kidnap these babies?” asks Dr. Phil.
“No. She didn’t kidnap them,” says Kathleen. “As I say, she never possessed the criminal heart to take them. There is no evidence to support the idea that she went and was never coming back. She flew under her own name. She went to Canada under her own name. She took the children under their own names, under their own passports. She lived an open and published life. There was nothing covert about what Allison did.”
“Are the current possessors of these children the legal, rightful possessors of the children?” he asks.
“That’s the issue that is currently under appeal in the civil custody matter,” Kathleen replies. “The answer to that is no. Allison has full parental rights. She retains those parental rights now.”
Dr. Phil introduces Mike Holfeld, an investigative reporter from WKMG in Orlando, Florida. He says to Mike, “Now, she contacted you this past summer and shared with you these 911 tapes, right?”
“That’s right, Dr. Phil,” Mike confirms. “We thought it was a compelling story. We thought it was the story of a local woman, an engineer ” remember, she worked for Lockheed. She loved those kids, and she was torn between the love of those kids, whom your audience just saw, and this odd law that didn’t allow her any second chance. No regrets. We felt, looking at that law, it probably should be modified, and you’re bringing this to the national stage, and I think everyone should applaud you for doing that.”