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Family in octuplets case had financial woes

January 30, 2009 |  3:39 pm

The family of octuplets born in Southern California this week has a history of financial problems, including a bankruptcy, tax liens and a foreclosure, according to court records.

The 33-year-old Whittier woman, who has not been publicly identified, gave birth to the octuplets at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Bellflower on Monday and already has six young children, including a set of twins, said her mother, Angela Suleman.

She lives with her parents in a 1,550-square-foot home in Whittier, where television trucks and camera crew continued to roam the quiet cul-de-sac Friday. This afternoon, the children's grandfather returned to the home with four toddlers and did not speak to the throng of media, other than to ask for privacy.

Last March, Suleman filed bankruptcy, claiming nearly $1 million in liabilities — mostly because of a bad house investment, her attorney said. Countrywide Home Loans approved a $492,000 mortgage for Suleman in 2006 for a second home she bought in Whittier for $615,000. In 2008, the bank began foreclosure procedures. The house was sold in August for $369,375.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times on Thursday, Suleman said her daughter did not expect to have octuplets, but that all the implanted embryos "happened to take."

She acknowledge that supporting a family with 14 children would be difficult, but that her daughter felt like she had little choice.

"What do you suggest she should have done?" Suleman said. "She refused to have them killed."

To help support the family, the woman's father works in Iraq as a contractor, where he earns at least $100,000 annually.

Fertility experts, including the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, have raised concerns about the number of embryos implanted and whether it was within medical guidelines.

"I cannot see circumstances where any reasonable physician would transfer eight embryos into a woman under the age of 35 under any circumstance," said Arthur Wisot, a fertility doctor in Redondo Beach. "I cannot imagine that any of the mainstream practices in the Los Angeles area were involved in this. I would guess — and it's a pure guess — that she either went out of the country or went to a practice that flies below the radar."

The California Medical Board, which investigates doctors, and the California Department of Public Health Services, which licenses clinics and hospitals, said no doctors or facilities are currently being investigated regarding the births. A spokesman for the state health agency said there is no indication the implantations occurred at a facility they license.

--Kimi Yoshino and Jessica Garrison