Suleman in 2011
Natalie Denise Suleman
July 11, 1975
Fullerton, California, U.S.
|Other names||Natalie Denise Doud-Suleman (current full name)|
|Known for||Suleman octuplets|
(m. 1996; div. 2008)
|Denis Beaudoin (1997-1999); Frankie G (2012)|
Nadya Denise Doud-Suleman (born Natalie Denise Suleman; July 11, 1975),[a] known as Octomom in the media, is an American media personality who came to international attention when she gave birth to octuplets in January 2009. The Suleman octuplets are only the second full set of octuplets to be born alive in the United States. One week after their birth, they surpassed the previous worldwide survival rate for a complete set of octuplets set by the Chukwu octuplets in 1998. The circumstances of their high order multiple birth led to controversy in the field of assisted reproductive technology as well as an investigation by the Medical Board of California of the fertility specialist involved.
Public reaction turned negative when it was discovered that Suleman already had six other young children and was unemployed and on public assistance programs. Suleman conceived the octuplets and her six older children via in vitro fertilization (IVF). Although she initially denied ever having used public assistance, she confirmed in April 2012 on NBC's Today show that she was indeed on public assistance.
Natalie was born in Fullerton, California. She is the only child of Angela Victoria Suleman (born Stanaitis), a schoolteacher, and Edward Doud Suleman, a restaurant owner and Iraq war army veteran. She attended Nogales High School in La Puente, California, where she was known as Natalie Doud, and later California State University in Fullerton. She received a B.S. in child development and worked for a state mental hospital for three years.
In 1996, Suleman married Marco Gutierrez. They separated in 2000. Gutierrez filed for divorce in November 2006, which was finalized in January 2008. In an interview with Inside Edition, Gutierrez explained their divorce was due to failed attempts to have children. Suleman was desperate and wanted to try in vitro fertilization, but Gutierrez disliked the idea of "test tube babies" and refused to take part in the procedure. Gutierrez said he is not the father of any of Suleman's children and that he wishes his ex-wife the best.
Suleman began IVF treatments in 1997, when she was 21 years old, under the supervision of Dr. Michael Kamrava, who was later (October 2009) expelled from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
In 2001 Suleman gave birth to her first child, a son. In 2002 she gave birth to her first daughter. Suleman continued IVF treatments which resulted in three further pregnancies (including one set of fraternal twins) for a total of six children (four sons, two daughters).
In 2009, Suleman stated that she had six embryos left over from her previous IVF treatments. She explained that she requested all of the remaining embryos be transferred into her uterus at one time. A woman her age would normally have a maximum of two or three embryos transferred. Suleman states that part of her reasoning for attempting a sixth pregnancy was so that the frozen embryos would not be destroyed. Fresh cycles were always done, despite there being available frozen embryos stored with Dr. Kamrava. In June 2011, during a California Medical Board investigation, it was found that Kamrava had transferred twelve embryos, which the board found to be an "extreme" departure from standard of care. After reviewing Suleman's case, in combination with three other cases, the Medical Board of California voted to revoke Kamrava's medical license, effective July 1, 2011. According to The New York Times, Kamrava hid his assets in the Cook Islands, making use of its asset-protection trust laws.
News of the octuplets caused an international media sensation. Public response was largely negative, including death threats. There has been much public discussion about Suleman's decision to have the octuplets, including a minor protest outside the Suleman home. Many expressed concern that Suleman's decision for more children would burden taxpayers via public support. Suleman claimed to be able to independently support her children saying she was planning to return to school to complete a master's degree in counseling, but records showed that Suleman was unemployed after having received disability between 2002 and 2008, as payment for a back injury suffered during a riot in September 1999.
In March 2009, Suleman bought a new house in La Habra, and many stories questioned that the octuplets would be released from the hospital, while Suleman expressed concern about losing custody of them. In the early morning hours of April 1, the day she would bring home the seventh octuplet, vandals threw a baby seat through the back window of her Toyota minivan. As of April 14, 2009, all of the children were home with their mother and grandmother. The octuplets celebrated their first birthday on January 26, 2010. Suleman told People magazine, "I don't get much sleep, about two or three hours a night. But I'm continuing to move forward with my life and trying to be the best mother I can be."
In a June 2011 interview, Suleman reportedly told In Touch Weekly: "I hate babies, they disgust me... Obviously, I love them--but I absolutely wish I had not had them." Suleman later stated she did not give an interview with the magazine, but a recorded audio tape surfaced three weeks later.
Suleman quickly captured the public eye with the birth of octuplets. Within the first week, the media dubbed her "Octomom". Suleman hired the Killeen Furtney Group as her initial public relations company, with Wes Yoder providing a small amount of pro bono advice. Both groups soon ended their involvement after receiving death threats. Her next spokesman was Victor Munoz, who quit on March 6, 2009.
Suleman has appeared on many television shows, starting with a February 2009 interview with Ann Curry. Suleman rejected suggestions that her decisions have been selfish or that she would not be able to care for her children, stating, "I know I'll be able to afford them when I'm done with my schooling. If I was just sitting down watching TV and not being as determined as I am to succeed and provide a better future for my children, I believe that would be considered, to a certain degree, selfish". Suleman would make another appearance later in March on Dr. Phil alongside fellow guest Gloria Allred. Allred had a list of criticisms regarding Suleman's performance as mother and homemaker.
On April 16, 2009, Suleman revealed she struck a deal for a reality TV show in the UK, though The Hollywood Reporter said some U.S. networks were reluctant to pick up the show. Suleman signed an agreement with the Los Angeles Superior Court on July 24 to have each of her children earn $250 a day to star in a reality show; filming was set to begin on September 1. On May 4, 2009, it was announced that Allred had filed a case with Orange County Superior Court requesting that a guardian be appointed to protect the rights of the infants. Later Fox aired their own two-hour special titled, Octo-Mom: The Incredible Unseen Footage. There were many parodies and other media events based on the story, including a 2009 musical performed in Los Angeles, although she was not involved in its production. It was initially released in 2012, but was given a re-release on July 25, 2014.
In April 2010, Suleman was on The Oprah Winfrey Show and Idol Gives Back, in which she denied claims that she had received plastic surgery and stated that she refused to star in pornographic movies. She added that she had seriously rethought her decision to give birth to and raise her children, and that she hoped to become a teacher. She made another appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, where she asked and received help from Suze Orman about financial issues that she was then facing with her children and discussed her compulsive hoarding disorder developed from childhood.
On April 30, 2012, Suleman filed for personal bankruptcy. Suleman said she had $50,000 in assets and up to $1 million in debts. Her home in La Habra was set to go up for auction. Earlier, she was accused of neglecting her children while spending hundreds of dollars on herself for services such as Brazilian blowouts. However, after visiting her house, social workers determined that the children were not in danger and should not be removed.
Suleman checked herself into Chapman House Treatment Center in Los Angeles on October 23, 2012, for 28 days or more for rehabilitation for anxiety, exhaustion, and stress. She had been taking Xanax under a doctor's care for her problems.
On January 13, 2014, Suleman was accused of welfare fraud by the state of California for failing to disclose nearly $30,000 in earnings. On 14 July 2014, she pleaded no contest to a single count of misdemeanor welfare fraud for failing to disclose income she was receiving from videos and personal appearances while collecting more than $26,000 in public assistance funds to care for her 14 children. Suleman was sentenced to 200 hours of community service and two years of probation, and ordered to pay a small fine. Her attorney, Arthur J. LaCilento, said that with financial help from friends, his client has already repaid the county welfare system. Before making her plea, Suleman had been facing four felony charges, including perjury and welfare fraud, in the case.
In 2012 Suleman starred in the film 666 the Devil's Child, a low-budget horror film that centers upon a couple that visits a woman they met on the Internet, only for strange things to occur. Suleman portrays the character Vanessa, a film student.
Suleman did a March 2019 interview with the Australian current affairs program Sunday Night for the octoplets' tenth birthday. She conceded that although she was "absolutely [...] young, dumb, irresponsible, selfish, reckless", she does not regret any of her children, stating, "My kids are my life." Her children have variously described her as "amazing", "loving", "strict", and "the best mom ever". The feature noted that the household is run with "military precision", and the children are fed a largely organic, plant-based diet. The reporter, Angela Cox, described the children as "happy, healthy, and well-mannered" and Ms. Suleman as going "from Octomom to Supermom".
In her efforts to raise money to support herself and her children, Suleman worked a variety of jobs and projects. In June 2012, she announced that she would be recording a new single with recording artist Adam Barta after she appeared in an alternate cut of his "Q&A" music video, where she was heard saying, "Let's do a duet, on my new album!" In Summer 2012, Suleman appeared in the adult film Octomom Home Alone produced by Wicked Pictures. The film is solely of Nadya Suleman in solo scenes with the aid of sex toys; there are no other actors. The film was released on June 20, 2012. (In December 2012, Octomom Home Alone received four AVN Award nominations, and won for Best Celebrity Video.)
She also worked as an adult entertainer dancing in men's clubs. She released a single called "Sexy Party" with Adam Barta in September, and caused a controversy when he was seen holding her breasts surrounded by crucifixes on a bed on the compact disc artwork. She stated she was inspired by the work of Madonna. In October 2012, she was paid to participate in the launch of an internet debate site, Deeyoon.com, including doing an online debate on parenting with Michael Lohan.
Before knowledge of the octuplets became public, Suleman had been living with her six older children and mother in a small three-bedroom house in Whittier, California. Property records show the Suleman house in mortgage default, scheduled to be sold at auction in May 2009. Suleman's parents filed for bankruptcy in 2008, citing nearly $1 million in liabilities. In March 2010, it was reported that Suleman's own La Habra house was facing foreclosure.
Suleman's father, Edward Doud Suleman, identified himself as a former Iraqi military man of Assyrian ethnicity and said he would be returning to his native Iraq as a translator and driver in order to financially support his daughter and her fourteen children. Suleman's mother, Angela Victoria (born Stanaitis) Suleman, a Lithuanian retired high school teacher, has helped to look after the first six children. She has indicated that she is overwhelmed looking after them, and has been critical of her daughter in her earlier public statements. Amongst similar interviews, she revealed that her daughter never expected to give birth to the large number of children, nor did she expect to be unemployed and use public assistance.
Lawyers drumming up business say they have found just the place: the Cook Islands. And, thanks to a recently released trove of documents, it's become clear that hundreds of wealthy people have stashed their money there, including a felon who ran a $7 billion Ponzi scheme and the doctor who lost his license in the Octomom case."; "Dr. Michael M. Kamrava, who lost his medical license after implanting embryos allowing Nadya Suleiman, the so-called Octomom, to give birth to octuplets, placed his interest in a Beverly Hills surgery center and a Swiss bank account on his 'Athena Trust'.