Rosie O'Donnell: All About Her Troubled Relationship with 20-Year-Old Pregnant Daughter Chelsea
Rosie O’Donnell and her estranged daughter Chelsea are feuding publicly — and not for the first time.
Rosie adopted Chelsea as a baby with her then-wife Kelli Carpenter-O’Donnell. The two also share son Parker, 22, son Blake, 17, and daughter Vivienne, 14. Rosie is also mother to daughter Dakota, 4, whom she shares with her late ex-wife Michelle Rounds, who died of apparent suicide last week.
This week, Chelsea, 20, announced that she is pregnant, and Rosie, 55, responded by accusing her daughter of trying to profit off of Rounds’ death. The relationship between Rosie and Chelsea has been significantly strained in recent years — here’s a look back at their troubled history.
“There’s lots of stuff going on at home and there’s lots of stuff going on at work,” she said. “The only thing I can really control is the work, by leaving.”
“The truth is I had a heart attack two years ago, and stress is very bad for heart attack survivors,” she said. “I’m minimizing my stress by leaving The View … the stress that I’m having at home isn’t as easily remediable.”
A 17-year-old Chelsea went missing. New Jersey police found her a week later at the house of 25-year-old alleged heroin addict Steven Sheerer. (Sheerer’s attorney told the Associated Press at the time that his relationship with Chelsea was consensual and that they began dating on the dating app Tinder, on which she identified herself as 19.)
At the time, Rosie’s representative Cindi Berger said Chelsea suffers from mental illness and had gone off her medication.
“Chelsea, like millions of people, lives with mental illness,” Berger said. “It has been a difficult road for Chelsea and her family and they just want her back safe. [Rosie and Chelsea] have a good relationship. Rosie loves Chelsea very much.”
Chelsea successfully pleaded with a judge to lift a no-contact order between her and Sheerer.
She also chose to move out of her family’s New York house and into the home of her biological mother, Wisconsin resident Deanna Micoley.
“Chelsea made a decision when she turned 18 that she wanted to go to her birth mother,” Berger told PEOPLE. “This was her choice.”
RELATED VIDEO: Rosie O’Donnell’s Ex-Wife Michelle Rounds Dies at 46 of Apparent Suicide
“She told me to leave and take my dog,” Chelsea said. “Rosie knew I was planning to leave, that’s why I think she kicked me out. She asked me to talk about what was going on and I didn’t want to. So she asked for my phone and my computer. This was hours before she told me to leave. I gave them to her. A few hours later, she told me to leave. I wasn’t planning to go until I turned 18 on the 24th.”
When reached by PEOPLE at the time, a rep for Rosie called the situation with Chelsea “heartbreaking on every level.”
Chelsea also denied being mentally ill to the Daily Mail, though she said she suffered from anxiety and depression when Rosie and Kelli, Chelsea’s other adoptive mother, got divorced in 2007.
“Putting out there that I am mentally ill was really hurtful,” she said. “People think I’m this crazy person and as I’ve said, I have depression and bad anxiety – but it’s been something that’s gotten a lot better. But these were personal things and I didn’t want anyone to know them about me. I wouldn’t say I’m mentally ill – I would say lots of people struggle with what I have.”
Chelsea said she was “pretty much raised by nannies,” to whom she is closer with than Rosie: “I would have liked to have my parents more in the picture raising me instead of nannies – although my nannies are great people,” she said.
At the time, Chelsea also defended Sheerer.
“I guess everyone is putting out there he’s a bad guy from things that happened in the past but he’s not,” she said. “He supports me and I love him. He’s not into anything bad now, he works hard.”
Of Rosie, Chelsea said, “She’s texting me as if Steve is keeping me here and not letting me leave, which is not the case. I’m really happy to be here, and happier than I’ve been in years.”
One day after Chelsea’s interview was published, Rosie tweeted a quote from a children’s book.
“I will grow, I will grow, I will grow. I will grow without you. I will feel the sun on my face and I will thrive,” she wrote. (The quote appeared to be from Margaret Wise Brown’s classic picture book The Runaway Bunny, which details a baby rabbit telling his mother he wants to run away. In the story, the mother bunny counters her son by saying she will transform into anything to stay by his side.)
Days later, during a show at Gotham Comedy Club in New York City, the comedian reportedly discussed her strained relationship with Chelsea, as well as her own struggle with depression.
“I love all of my kids. My daughter has been in the news. It’s been in the news, but it’s not news to the family,” O’Donnell said, according to Entertainment Tonight. “It’s been a decade long. As mom, my wish is for love and peace and wait until it’s done.”
“Chelsea just turned 18. For adopted children 18 is a magic number,” O’Donnell continued. “At 18 they’re going to rebel any way they can, any way they can get your attention.”
According to ET, at the comedy gig, O’Donnell maintained that Chelsea has a “chemical imbalance” and touched on her own struggles with depression.
“I know about mental illness – I have my own,” O’Donnell said, adding that it started when she was 20 and that she’s currently on antidepressants.
“I thought mental illness was failure of my character, not my chemistry,” she continued.
“What choice do you have but to get through?” she said of Chelsea’s decision to move out. “I have four other kids.”
“I care about her and I hope she’s doing well,” she said. “But love is a big word and I wouldn’t really use that.”
“I miss the rest of my family a lot, but I think there is some much-needed space between me and Rosie,” she added. “It’s been nice having that.”
In an attempt to clarify her previous comments to the Daily Mail and Inside Edition, Chelsea issued a lengthy statement to Entertainment Tonight.
“So many things I have said have been cut or distorted for the media hype of two interviews I have done and I want to clear the air from my own voice,” she said. “Am I hurt for the things that have been said about me? Yes! I never grew up and chose to be a ‘public figure,’ and my goal has and never will be to be on TV or in print unless as a model. So anyone speaking untruth about me personally and my life, led me to my own voice.”
“What most don’t seem to understand is that I am so grateful to have been adopted and I love my siblings dearly and miss them everyday,” she said. “I support several adoption agencies today proudly. Just like many 18-year-olds, I am simply just trying to find my OWN identity through life and that hasn’t been easy a lot of times always being in the public eye as a child, and not by choice.”
“Do I have a mental illness? No, but I do have a disease I suffer from and it is called depression and another called anxiety, like so many millions of others out there,” she continued. “When I turned a certain age I had a deep desire to know where I came from at birth and what my biological family looked like and were from, so I did that and although I was disappointed, I am glad to have closure on that part of my life and I have no desires to continue a relationship with the woman who gave birth to me.”
“Today, I am trying to heal deep settled wounds and continue on with my high school education I was unable to finish and go to college to do great things in my life,” she went on. “It amazes me how many are so quick to want to judge me, yet have never lived in my shoes. I don’t need a mansion or a million dollars to make me content or happy. I am humble enough to work at Walmart if it were necessary.”
“A part of my heart will always care for Rosie,” she concluded. “But many things she has done to me over the past few months are unforgivable at the present. Some things just take time, if ever. Everything further personally will be handled via me and my family alone and not publicly, unless necessary.”
Chelsea later revised the statement, removing the comment about her biological mother and the final paragraph.
Rosie spoke out about her ongoing estrangement from Chelsea during her set at The Fund for Women’s Equality & The ERA Coalition’s A Night of Comedy with Jane Fonda in New York.
“My teenagers are a nightmare, they’re horrible,” she quipped. “I had four teenagers when I decided to adopt a newborn baby. You might ask why. Because I had four teenagers and I needed to remind myself that I actually do love children.”
“My son told me he’s writing a book, Life With Mom: Not So Rosie,” she said. “I found it annoying. I did the best I could. They blame you for everything.”
“I didn’t have parents!” she added. “My mother died, my father was a drunk abusive idiot. I had nothing, and my children complain, ‘You wouldn’t even help me with math!’ ”
Months later, Rosie and Chelsea appeared to have reconciled, and the comedian posted a selfie of the two on Instagram.
“chelsea and me – what a difference a year makes,” she captioned the photo. “#hopelives.”
The pair also celebrated Chelsea’s 19th birthday together.
“happy birthday chelsea belle !!! 19 today #believe,” Rosie captioned a photo of the two.
Chelsea was reportedly taken to a Long Island hospital to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. According to E! News, she was admitted to a state-wide program that offers psychiatric evaluations on an emergency basis, as well as any subsequent treatment services, such as interventions or medical professional referrals, depending on the patient’s needs.
Rosie later took to Twitter to reassure fans that Chelsea was doing all right.
“She is ok…” she wrote. “#RealLife #chillymy.”
News broke that Chelsea had secretly tied the knot with Nicholas Alliegro, a 31-year-old plumber, on July 1 — months after they met at a Dunkin Donuts.
Chelsea and Alliegro broke their silence on their marriage, claiming Rosie was very unhappy about it.
“She was upset that we got married without telling her, which I totally understand,” Alliegro told Inside Edition.
“I think she was shocked,” added Chelsea, noting that despite having reconciled briefly, the two were not on speaking terms.
“The last time we got into an argument, we ended up screaming at each other and I left the room,” she said. “Growing up, I never really got along with her and then once she kicked me out, I was just kind of done.”
“I would just want her to know that we’re doing really great and we’re happy,” she said, adding that she’d “someday” like to make peace with her mother: “I hope.”
In an interview with the Daily Mail published Tuesday, Chelsea revealed she and Alliegro are expecting a child together. (According to the outlet, the couple wed last summer after Chelsea discovered she was expecting for the first time. That pregnancy ended in a miscarriage.)
“It’s very exciting, and I’m looking forward to it,” Chelsea said. “I really don’t care if I have a boy or a girl, I’m just hoping for a healthy baby. Nick would really like a boy. But as far as I am concerned, so long as it’s healthy, that’s what matters.”
Chelsea, who is nine weeks pregnant and due in early May 2018, said Rosie will not a part of her child’s life: “And no, I do not feel sad about that, to be honest,” she added.
Shortly after the news broke, Rosie posted a cryptic tweet referencing family.
“Dakotas ear surgery – u next to me – carrying ur sister out of the hospital – past her and her mom – late for school – protecting ur family,” she wrote, and followed it with, “protecting ur family not words I would use to describe u.”
The news of Chelsea’s pregnancy came just a week after Rosie’s ex-wife Michelle Rounds died of apparent suicide. Rosie has since taken to social media to question her estranged daughter’s motivation, posting a series of late-night tweets including one that read: “Michelle’s death = money 4 Chelsea.”
“one year ago kid – u want a public discussion – did they pay u again – how much this time?” she tweeted. “same same same chelsea.”
“we have been here before Chelsea u wanna go a few rounds in public seems so,” she wrote. “Michelle’s death = money 4 Chelsea.”
“loving people doesn’t save them — sometimes love has no say,” she added.
“I let go I walked away and she still does interviews,” she said. “I see u Chelsea hurting people in ur family over and over.”
“I am not breaking down I am standing up,” she continued. “To tabloid bulls— to my vengeful child to the endlessness of this insanity.”
“I will not not delete not regret,” she added. “She uses the public she responds only in public and now I will too.”