Search This Blog

Loading...

Monday, January 31, 2011

Baby M

Mary Beth Whitehead










This is not a crime, per say, but an interesting true story of surrogacy gone wrong. In 1985, Mary Beth Whitehead agreed to be a surrogate mother for Bill and Betsy Stern by artificial insemination. On March 27th, 1986, "Baby M" was born. Mary Beth decided she wanted to keep the baby, whom she called "Sara", while the Sterns named her "Melissa". She ended up kidnapping the baby during a long custody battle. The Sterns were awarded custody of Melissa, and Betsy Stern was allowed to adopt her. However, Betsy Stern's adoption of the baby was overturned by the Supreme Court of New Jersey and Mary Beth Whitehead was allowed visitation rights. When Melissa turned 18, she terminated Mary Beth's parental rights and formalized Betsy Stern's maternity through adoption proceedings.


Betsy and Bill Stern


Baby M


Melissa Stern (around age 8)

In 1988 he case was turned into a movie, Baby M, starring JoBeth Williams as Mary Beth Whitehead, John Shea as Bill Stern and Robin Strasser as Betsy Stern.

JoBeth Williams as Mary Beth Whitehead



John Shea and Robin Strasser as Bill and Betsy Stern




This movie is very emotionally gripping. You feel for Mary Beth and you feel for the Sterns. I recently ordered a VHS copy on Amazon. Unfortunately, I have not been able to locate any sites you could watch this movie online, but here is a preview of the movie.


6 comments:

  1. I remember when this was in the news! It sparked a lot of changes in laws for surrogacy and adoption. I don't remember what my opinion was then but as an adoptive parent now, I definitely know my mind!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I remember the first time I saw the movie. I was all for Mary Beth, but after I saw it again, I really felt for the Sterns. Now I'm glad that it worked out the way it did. It seems Melissa is very happy with the Sterns and loves them very much.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I saw the movie and read Mary Beth's book about the case told from her point of view. I think Mary Beth thought she was the only one who knew what her daughter needed and that the Sterns were always wrong! She put down the name Melissa and even sent the girl to the Sterns with the name Sara on the clothes she wore. She trashed the clothes they dressed her in and the food they gave her. She never stopped doing that even after Melissa grew up. I remember when Melissa turned 7 and the way her mother would grill her endlessly about life with Bill and Betsy. She had Sassy (Melissa)'s ears pierced even though the Sterns didn't want that and she hated the idea that they gave her a sewing machine for Christmas one year! No wonder she had Mary Beth's rights terminated and Betsy's reinforced when she turned 18!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I also read a fairly recent article about Mary Beth and Dean Gould, her second husband. They pulled a Brooke Astor like con on this millionaire Jack Dreyfus. He was in his 90s and they replaced the help he had with Mary Beth's relatives. They stopped Mr. Dreyfus's son from seeing him and would not let Mr. Dreyfus's girlfriend from seeing him as well. They also replaced the new furniture with older stuff. I also think Melissa saw parts of Mary Beth and half-sister Tuesday's interview with Dr. Phil on his show and was sick of being exploited like she was as a little baby!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am so glad that Melissa found happiness with the Sterns. It is so sad that surrogacy is so restricted in certain states. This could help so many people who want a baby

    ReplyDelete
  6. The strange thing about the Jack Dreyfus case is that he died on March 27, 2009, exactly 23 years after Mary Beth had Melissa! It makes me wonder if conning people is a normal thing for Mary Beth and it might be! I do think she was just dangling the idea of Melissa in front of the Sterns with the intention of taking Melissa away to be raised as Sara Whitehead? I do think that woman if given enough time and money, would have split the country with Melissa!

    ReplyDelete