Pop Culture

'Teen Mom' Amber Portwood's daughter thinks mom's on vacation, not in jail

MTV / Today
Dr. Drew Pinsky visits former "Teen Mom" Amber Portwood for MTV's "Amber Behind Bars" special.

Former "Teen Mom" Amber Portwood is currently doing hard time, serving out her 5-year jail sentence at the Rockville Correctional Facility in Indiana after deciding court-ordered rehab just wasn't for her. But back home, her 3-year-old daughter Leah is having a heartbreaking time of her own, adjusting to life without her mom.

According to Leah's father, Gary Shirley, the tot misses her mom, but doesn't know exactly why she's not around anymore.

"I haven’t been able to say to her, 'Mommy’s in jail,'" Gary recently told In Touch magazine. "When I tried to tell her Mommy’s in trouble, she got upset, so I’ve said, 'Mommy’s at work,' or 'Mommy’s on vacation.'"

But it's a "vacation" Leah doesn't even get to visit.

In a clip from an upcoming MTV special, "Amber Behind Bars," Dr. Drew Pinsky interviews Amber and asks why Leah hasn't been to Rockville yet.

"It all boils down to Gary, as the guardian, to sign the papers," she explained. "I've sent him visitation papers twice."

And while she's upset that he hasn't signed the papers, she admitted, "I think he's trying to protect Leah too."

Still, Amber speaks to Gary and Leah on the phone nearly every day and knows her daughter is hurt and confused.

"I don't really think she understands it at all from what she says on the phone," Amber explained. "'I miss you! When can I see you?' She actually said, 'Can I come over to your house?'"

Leah's confusion could continue for a while. For now, Amber doesn't know what to do about it.

"I don't know how to say (it)," she told Dr. Drew. "What do you say to a 3-year-old?"

Gary seems equally uncertain, in addition to feeling overwhelmed.

"I’m doing the best I can,” he told In Touch. "The last time I cried was two weeks ago. It’s so important to have help with Leah, and people aren’t always there. It’s very frustrating."

"Amber Behind Bars: An MTV Special" airs Tuesday, Oct. 9. on MTV.

Do you think Amber and Gary are doing the right thing by hiding the truth about Amber's incarceration from little Leah? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.


Related content:

More in The Clicker: