LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California’s octuplets mom has agreed to allow a foster nursing charity to provide care for her eight newborns and six older children for at least six months, television therapist Dr. Phil McGraw said on Monday.
Under the agreement between the mother, Nadya Suleman, and the philanthropic foundation Angels in Waiting, she and all 14 children will live together in a new home found for the family near her current neighborhood in suburban Los Angeles, a spokeswoman for McGraw said.
A statement from his nationally syndicated TV show, “Dr. Phil,” said the nonprofit agency “initially will be providing around-the-clock services of skilled neonatal intensive care nurses who specialize in premature infant developmental care.”
“Psychological and physical early therapies to help all of the children’s growth and well-being will also be provided,” the statement said, adding that services “will commence as soon as the octuplets are released from the hospital and will be reevaluated very six months.”
The statement also said Suleman, who has been living with her six older children, aged 2 to 7, in her mother’s three-bedroom house, had found “a suitable new home” for her family, and that Angels in Waiting will help her “prepare the house properly to meet the children’s needs.”
According to the news website TMZ.com, a four-bedroom, three-bathroom house with a large backyard is being purchased for the family by her father, with a “substantial down payment” coming from money Suleman has amassed in recent weeks, much of it presumably from donations.
McGraw’s nationally syndicated TV show, “Dr. Phil,” which scored strong ratings with a two-part interview of Suleman last month, said he would reveal further details of the plan he helped broker in broadcasts set for Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Nadya realized that she had to make every effort to care for the octuplets as well as the six children at home in a way the proved that she understood the enormity and complexity of the task ahead,” McGraw said in a statement. “The plan in place ... affords all of the Suleman children a chance to grow and thrive.”
McGraw became involved in discussions between Suleman and Angels in Waiting after she confided to him fears of not being allowed to take her newborns home from the hospital until she could prove she had the means to care for the infants.
Gloria Allred, a Los Angeles lawyer representing Angels in Waiting, has said she asked child welfare authorities to review Suleman’s case after the mother rebuffed an initial offer from the nonprofit agency to help with the care of her children.
Suleman first made headlines January 26 when she gave birth to six boys and two girls, delivered 9 1/2 weeks premature, at the Kaiser Permanent Medical Center in suburban Los Angeles.
Representing only the second known set of octuplets born alive in the United States, their arrival initially was hailed by Kaiser’s neonatal team as a medical triumph.
But Suleman become a lightning rod for public ridicule after it was learned that she already was a divorced, jobless mother of six living with her parents on food stamps when she became pregnant with octuplets through in vitro fertilization.
She has said that all 14 of her children were conceived via embryo transplants, using sperm donated by a single “friend.”
Editing by Dan Whitcomb