Octuplets' grandmom: raising 14 "will be difficult

February 3, 2009 1:03:43 PM PST
The California woman who gave birth to octuplets on Monday, although once married, apparently had all 14 of her kids out of wedlock by artificial means.

And various public records raise questions about the family's ability to support them.

Meanwhile, a friend and neighbor of the new mother defended her decisions to ABC News and insisted she will have plenty of assistance raising her 14 children.

"Nadya has a lot of friends that are very supportive and willing to help in any way they can,'' Jessica Zepeda said Sunday evening outside her Whittier, CA. home. She called Doud a "wonderful mother'' and an ''awesome parent.''

Zepeda and Doud's children play and go to school together. Zepeda expressed frustration with critical coverage of the octuplet birth in the media and suggested that it was preventing her children from seeing their friends.

"They can't - because of all the cameras in front of her house,'' Zepeda said.

ABC News has learned through San Bernardino Superior Court Records that the 33-year-old California woman, whose name is Nadya Doud or Nadya Suleman (she filed to have her name changed to Nadya Suleman in 2001 -- though it was not clear if the request was granted), divorced her husband, Marcos Gutierrez, in January 2008.

The document indicates "no children of the marriage," suggesting that Gutierrez was not the father of Doud's previous six children.

Last week, the woman's mother, Angela Suleman, said her daughter has been obsessed with having children since she was a teenager, according to an interview she conducted late Friday with The Associated Press.

Angela Suleman told the AP that all 14 children were conceived through in vitro fertilization, because her daughter had always had trouble conceiving because her fallopian tubes were "plugged up.'' She said that while all the kids came from a single sperm donor, the donor is not Marcos Guitierrez.

An AP review of birth records identified a David Solomon as the father of the oldest four children.

Doud lived with Gutierrez for about three-and-a-half years from August 1996 until January 2000, when she moved back with her parents, Edward Doud Suleman and Angela Suleman, living at several addresses, records show. The parents were granted a divorce in Las Vegas in 1999, but evidently still live together.

After leaving Gutierrez, Doud began having her 14 children.

Another set of court documents may raise the question of whether Doud will be able to afford care for all those kids. The public records indicate that Doud's mother filed for bankruptcy in March 2008.

The family currently lives in a three-bedroom home in suburban Los Angeles. Bankruptcy court records show that, as of March 2008, the family owned a second home in the same area.

As of March, Edward Doud Suleman, apparently the octuplets' grandfather, was working in Iraq, according to the bankruptcy filing. The couple's combined monthly income was listed as roughly $8,740, but the filing indicated that Angela Suleman expected their income would rise from her husband's employment. It said that he would earn $100,000 a year. The document did not specify Suleman's husband's occupation, but Suleman told the Los Angeles Times that her husband was a contractor.

Angela Suleman told the newspaper that her daughter had fertility treatment but never expected the treatment would result in eight babies.

She said that raising 14 children "was going to be difficult."

Nadya Suleman (a.k.a. Doud) reportedly held a psychiatric technician's license, though it was not clear if she was currently employed.

She holds a 2006 degree in child and adolescent development from California State University, Fullerton, and as late as last spring she was studying for a master's degree in counseling, a college official told ABC News.

In a statement released today, Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Center in Bellflower, Calif., where the children were born, said the infants were showing "good progress." All of the babies are breathing unassisted, and are being tube-fed donated breast milk and given intravenous nutritional supplements, the statement said.

No matter what someone earns, giving birth and caring for octuplets is an expensive proposition. The infants' delivery was performed by a team of 46 doctors, nurses and surgical assistants stationed in four delivery rooms at the Bellflower Medical Center, and it likely cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"Where is the milk money going to come from? How are we going to get these children to bed at night? Who is going to stay up with six children?" asked Dr. Charles Sophy of L.A. County Children and Family Services. "There is a lot of realty setting in."

"You can think of it as an eightfold increase on a singleton birth," said Steven M. Donn, director of the Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at the University of Michigan Health System. "By comparison, the mother's care will probably be a bargain."

Costs for the average delivery of a full-term pregnancy range from $9,000 to $25,000, depending on whether the baby is delivered by Caesarean section or vaginally. Eight times $25,000 is a whopping $200,000.

But Donn said the cost of the octuplets' delivery likely exceeded that number because doctors prepared for the risks associated with a multiple-birth delivery.

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