Rosie O’Donnell spoke about estranged daughter Chelsea in a sad standup routine

Rosie O'Donnell

For the past few months, Rosie O’Donnell’s troubled family life has been very public, which must be quite unsettling for her. Her 18-year-old daughter, Chelsea, recently left home to live with her birth mother. This happened weeks after Chelsea went missing before being found in the attic of a 27-year-old alleged drug dealer, whom she met on Tinder. All of this drama would easily overwhelm anyone, but then Chelsea slammed Rosie in an interview. Chelsea revealed embarrassing details of how Rosie behaved at home, and Rosie was said to be “heartbroken” at the betrayal. Now Rosie has publicly spoken out in a stand-up routine, which was anything but comedic:

“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. It’s been a decade long,” Rosie said during the gig. “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.

“At 18 they’re gonna rebel any way they can, any way they can get your attention.” Still, Rosie defended Chelsea, who she said had a “chemical imbalance.”

“I know about mental illness — I have my own,” Rosie said, sharing 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. What choice do you have but to get through? I have four other kids,” she explained.

“I keep thinking I see Chelsea,” she later responded to an audience member. “When your kid isn’t there you see them everywhere.”

[From ET Online]

Again, I feel nothing but sadness for Rosie. It’s true that she can’t do anything about Chelsea because of that whole adulthood thing, but Rosie still must feel shocked. Of course she’s an eccentric mother. I would expect nothing less, and Chelsea simply wasn’t happy with Rosie’s reclusive behavior and tendencies to disappear into art sheds. Sadly, we may hear more tell-all interviews though. Since Rosie cut Chelsea off financially, she may want to make some easy money. I hope both of them are okay and can eventually find some peace with this very tragic situation.

Rosie O'Donnell

Rosie O'Donnell

Photos courtesy of & WENN

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58 Responses to “Rosie O’Donnell spoke about estranged daughter Chelsea in a sad standup routine”

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  1. The Eternal Side-Eye says:

    She’s certainly right about 18 being that magic number but it seems to start much earlier right around the teen years.

    It’s the usual teenage rebellion (in most situations) coupled with frustration from the thought of being adopted and having an ‘out’ from the parent who disciplines and actually expects something from you. Add in Chelsea’s mental illness and its a powder keg.

    I wish Rosie luck, sad because I think she has a lot more heartbreak to come from this daughter. Chelsea’s on a bad path and it’s got to be devtastating.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      Legally, 18 is the magic number not only in adoption. Bio kids rebel, too. They might just have different reasons.

    • NYer says:

      True understanding of the parent-child relationship doesn’t occur until the child becomes a parent herself. Oh, the things I would take back if only I could…

      • Seapharris7 says:

        Just like the saying,

        Children first idolize trip parents, then they demonize them.
        Then during those delightful teenage years utilize them… until eventually the parents are just humans. Neither Satan or God, just a person with flaws.

  2. Jenni says:

    It’s sad situation. It shows the darker side of being an adoptive parent. Sometimes genes are stronger than love and everything else.

    • GoodMorning says:

      Being eccentric and neglecting your kids are mutually exclusive. It’s fine to be an unusual person and role model for our children. Kids need us to be there not in a pot smoke art shed. Any parent evaluator would either take time away from such a parent and or give them an opportunity to change their parenting style. it sounds like Rosie wants to harp on the child being the problem not only for her age but apparently for having a similar chemical imbalance. if my adoptive “do gooder” guardian took to a public stage and “joked” about my chemical imbalance I’d have a long time to forgive.

      • Tippet says:

        God, IF ONLY my mother had gone to smoke pot in the art shed. She was so controlling, overbearing and crazy that I’m almost 40 and I still have major issues from it.

      • JenniferJustice says:

        GoodMorning is right. I’ll take it a step further and furtively assert that Rosie knows exactly what she’s doing in using her daughter’s mental illness as fodder for her routine – it’s such an obvious ploy to discredit Chelsea and deflect attention from herself. And the only thing magical about Chelsea turning 18 was the opportunity to finally get away. Not all teens rebel at 18. I didn’t. None of my siblings did. None of my brother’s kids did. So I don’t want to hear about this “automatic rebellion” at 18 or any other age.

    • Esmom says:

      Yes, but I think it’s naive to think that biological kids are somehow easier. Even with the adoptive piece missing, they aren’t immune to the same struggles that Chelsea is going through.

      • Santia says:

        I think all kids go through that phase when they’re trying to find a way in the world. It may be easier for adopted kids to try to find a place to go (i.e. birth mom’s), but all kids go through this.

    • Belle Epoch says:

      JENNI you are very wise! We had a situation in our family that was not unlike Chelsea’s. The daughter was adopted by an observant Catholic family, she was very unwell, she had a child and gave him up for adoption, she located her birth mother and moved in with her, and the two of them would go trolling for men together like two peas in a pod. Nature certainly beat Nurture that time.

    • Decorative Item says:

      The key, in most cases, to raising kids is to spend time with them. I understand that Rosie has her own problems but thats not the issue here. The real issue is that her daughter does not have a strong bond with her and, as a result, she’s looking for it elsewhere.
      That said, I’m sure Rosie did the best she knew how to do at the time.

      • jwoolman says:

        From what Chelsea herself has said, in addition to dealing with depression and anxiety, she has an attachment disorder. They were trying to help her deal with it at the boarding school. It’s a very difficult problem for both the person with it and their families. They don’t bond normally no matter how loving and attentive their parents are. Rosie didn’t cause it. Adopted kids can be at risk for it, but most don’t have it. Chelsea does. The irony is that the cause of her disorder is most likely whatever her birth mother was doing or not doing during the time Chelsea was with her (inside and outside). Drug and alcohol abuse by the mother during pregnancy is a major risk factor. It’s encouraging that Chelsea did feel the school was helping her with that issue, but she has a long and difficult path ahead of her.

      • JenniferJustice says:

        Sorry, but there’s some serious irony in sending your detached kid away to school. If my child wasn’t bonding, the last thing I would do is move her away. Makes no sense and I don’t care that the school was a therapy school. There were other options, especially where a celebrity with money is concerned. It’s obvious that child did not feel wanted. She was sent away for 9 out of 12 months and the three months she is home, her mother would rather be holed up in a neighboring craft house.

  3. Dorothy#1 says:

    Im adopted and my mom has many issues but i could never, would never in a millon years treat her the way Chelsea has treated Rosie. Love to Rosie!!

  4. jwoolman says:

    The only thing to do is wait it out. Chelsea is 18, can’t force anything. Cutting her off financially will help Chelsea figure out who is out for cash from her and who is really a friend. But if she has trust funds waiting – the non-friends might be willing to wait. This is a problem for any kid whose parents have real money.

  5. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    Just watching my friends, 15-18 is around the time that any children, adopted or not, temporarily turn into hideous strangers. I guess adopted children just have the extra “you’re not my real mom” knife to use. I hope everything works out for both of them. I have seen a lot of pain because of these few years, a lot of agony and worry and frustration, but it usually turns itself around.

    • Mrs. Wellen Melon says:

      Junior year in high school is Mother Nature’s way of helping parents let the baby bird fly from the nest.

      • Who ARE these people? says:

        I’ve heard, “Adolescence is nature’s way of helping you separate.” Same idea!

    • Krista says:

      Agreed. I also think there is a real identity battle going on, especially at that age. I have many friends who were adopted. The ones who’ve thrived feel like they were chosen by their adopted families. The ones who haven’t feel like they were discarded by their birth mothers.

    • Esmom says:

      Great, insightful comments, and actually just what I needed as my 14 year old skulked off to school with barely a grunt to me. It’s hard to believe he’s the same kid who was so engaged and loving and enthusiastic about everything not too many years ago…

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Ouch. I’m sorry. It must hurt. I honestly believe it’s just the course of things and he’ll be back to himself in time. ❤️

      • Esmom says:

        Thanks, GoodNames. It does hurt but like you said I am hopeful he will eventually come around again. It does seem to be pretty typical of kids his age. Sigh.

      • Who ARE these people? says:

        Oh no, the grunting! Can the slumping be far behind? Good luck, be patient, find other sources of nourishment. They can suck the life out of you for a while.

      • Charlotte15 says:

        @ESMOM I was just about to say that once again I am astounded by how intelligent, thoughtful and insightful some of the comments here can be! I am ridiculously glad I found this site because it is not the case in most comment sections. It is so refreshing to read comments like this, especially on a story in which I wasn’t expecting anything too substantial. Love CB.

    • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

      For myself I can say that 16 was like losing my mind. Seriously, I have no doubts at all much of the issues children face with their parents are chemical driven because God help me that was the year EVERYTHING my mom did was frustrating beyond words. It was like an episode of Animal Planet where the younger lion is trying to get as close to killing the older lion without actually accomplishing it.

      • Who ARE these people? says:

        Hormones! Girls going through puberty while their moms are going through perimenopause — bad mix.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        I was so mean to my mother – huge eye-roller at her most innocuous remark. “What time are you leaving?” Eye roll. “Would you like some toast for breakfast?” Sigh. Eye roll. “Who was that on the phone?” Prolonged sigh. Flop on chair. Eye roll. Why she didn’t kick my behind down the street I’ll never know.

      • Charlotte15 says:

        When I think about what I put my poor mother through when I was in junior high and high school…dear god! I was insufferable and I’m surprised she still speaks to me!

    • Jenna says:

      That particular knife was one of the major reasons I chose a closed adoption for my daughter (6 months of interviewing potential parents, found the right ones) and after the court case to sign paperwork walked away. (Have contacted their lawyer twice with family health updates and have left it up to her one day to decide) I had several friends who grew up with a birthmom still in the picture and it was just miserable for the adoptive parents. First when they are little, the near constant panic of “what if the birthmother changes her mind” and as kids get older… well. Most of humanity goes through a seriously knife-out bitchy phase and I didn’t want to ever be the visible “I don’t have to, you aren’t my REAL mom” go-to. I have to hope that since her adopted father is also adopted himself he can help her avoid that particularly nasty slash at her family. As much as I might find Rosie exhausting, I can’t help but have my heart break a bit for her. Adopted parents ARE real parents. The ones who are there for everything, know the good and the bad, support and love you… everything else is just a delivery service.

      • Lille says:

        Jenna, that is so mature and selfless of you to not only think of the adoptive parents, but to think of the well being of your child further down the line than just placement.

      • Who ARE these people? says:

        At least you have the family health information. For children from situations in which no biological links or information are available, it’s a different but still very real kind of loss. Every time they talk to a new doctor or fill out a form, there’s no family history. So yes, there’s no one to “go back to,” but also feeling really alone in the biological universe. It’s hard either way.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Jenna, I hope you didn’t think I meant that you aren’t the real mom to your daughter. I don’t feel that way at all – I just meant that when kids are going through that awful stage, they say the meanest things, like you’re not my real mother. Of course you are her real mother, who has loved and sacrificed and worried and taught – I would feel terrible if you took my words to mean I didn’t think you were really, truly her mother, because I do.

      • Jenna says:

        #GoodnamesAllTaken – no worries hon. In all honesty, I’m NOT her mom. I gave that up. I love her. Should a knock come at my door when she is 18, I’ll deal (trying to NOT hyperventilate over the knowledge that technically next month I’ll ‘have’ a teenager… AHHHHH!!!) but while I in no way thought it was a shot at birthmoms I also have to say that, at least for me? I’m not a mother. Not yet anyway (husband and I are working on fixing that) I did everything I could do to find her parents, to get her to them as safely and healthily as I could… and then fade out to black in their lives. I can’t think of myself as a mom – I’d lose my mind. Or at least a good chunk of my sanity. I just can’t go there. I know others who feel the complete opposite, and I get their stance too. But for me.. once I make a choice, I’ve made it. No looking back, no obsessing over was it right or wrong. It’s done and she is as safe and happy as I could find for her start and my job… well. My job was to make sure her mom got her. Yes, I’m aware that sounds a bit disassociated and disconnected perhaps but in a weird way I got a hand from the universe. Most babies have slightly blued eyes at the start before ‘setting’. My eyes are a dark brown to blue. (No clue about her father, the dude bash me with a brick after drugging a drink. Didn’t leave an address or callingcard after. Just… her.) Her parents both have striking and unusually vivid green eyes. No one in my family has anything even CLOSE to green. When she was born, she didn’t cry – just stared around the room and snuggled into the nurse… and when I held her, her eyes were emerald green and clear… just like her parents. Made everything more bearable somehow. Like, a package had been misdirected and I had to track down it’s proper owners. Stork got a bit discombobulated and I had to finish his job. So. What this novel really boils down to? No, you didn’t upset, hurt my feelings or anything like that. Promise. I was actually agreeing with you. Kids go a bit… nuts as teens for a bit and having that ‘you aren’t my REAL mom/dad/aunt/etc’ card wasn’t something I wanted her to be able to play. They ARE her real parents.

        I just got the gift of helping her get home.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Jenna, Oh, God, I feel so stupid, I completely misunderstood your first post. I thought you adopted a daughter, not that you found adoptive parents for your daughter. I think you are brave and unselfish, and I’m glad you had signs from the universe that your choice was the best one. I’m sure it was, and I am sorry I blundered into your heartfelt words without reading them properly, because they were lovely. Any future children you have will be very lucky.

      • funmi says:

        I wish you well. You are very courageous and also unselfish. I doubt that I could do the same.
        I would second guess myself so much that I would probably show up at her house Or school one day and declare that I am her birth mother or obsessively monitor her. Lol
        I hope that one she looks you up. Not for you, but for her just to have a chance at knowing what a great person you are.

    • Crumpet says:

      Yeah. It’s been tough watching my 18 year-old stepson’s hideous stranger routine (love that term btw). For me, it’s like having the worst roommate of my life who eats everything in the house, drips Gatorade on the carpet (tracking his gigantic dirty shoes through it) and most of the time acts like I’m not even in the room. I hang onto the knowledge that he is heading off to National Guard very soon and then to college.

      • Who ARE these people? says:

        The bad roommate analogy! Crumpet, I’ve used that myself – and for a girl. Time is your ally.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Oh, Crumpet, I’m so sorry that I laughed a little because your description was hilarious. I hope, and believe, that someday he will realize what an awesome stepmother he has and he will make it up to you, hopefully from afar. ❤️

    • Ange says:

      Which… I dunno I think parents create their own misery there. Me and my two brothers were never like that, none of my friends and their siblings were like that because teenage histrionics weren’t permitted. Somehow we all survived and thrived and all have healthy relationships with our parents today. Go figure.

  6. SypherMomma says:

    I’m just glad my parents weren’t famous. I wasn’t always the easiest child to love, but through it all my parents didn’t give up on me. I hope Chelsea comes around, most teens go through this faze…it’s just that most teens don’t have media outlets to vent their anger/frustration.

    • Charlotte15 says:

      I so agree with you, and I am also incredibly relieved that there was no social media back when I was that age – no email or texting, nothing – and I am so grateful for that fact because I probably would have said (typed) a lot of unkind and unfair things about my parents when I was “in a mood” and wouldn’t have been able to take those words back, they would be out there forever.

  7. erinn says:

    I really hope Chelsea can come to peace with things with Rosie, not just for Rosie–but for her four other siblings as well. They must be heartbroken, too.

  8. Astrid says:

    Seems a little cold for Rosie, the experienced adult, to use this particular family situation in a stand-up routine.

    • jwoolman says:

      It’s pretty normal for comedians to draw from family life. In this case, it’s all out there anyway because Chelsea did the interview. I saw it as more of a way to communicate with Chelsea. Rosie is trying to tell her that she’ll wait and that she loves her and that she misses her.

  9. tmbg says:

    She is exactly right. I know someone who is dealing with this very same thing right now. It’s amazing to me how similar Rosie’s situation is to my friend’s.

  10. Zapp Brannigan says:

    Just want to wish good luck and healing to this family.

    I am adopted too and those teenage years are tough to navigate. You have the usual teenage angst and in some cases issues with being adopted also, good luck to them all.

  11. SamiHami says:

    I’m a little surprised by all the posts supporting Rosie and assuming that Chelsea is the problem. I have always gotten the vibe that Rosie is a truly awful person, which would translate to her likely being a truly awful parent. While Chelsea clearly does have some issues, Rosie seems to be more interested in keeping this in the headlines rather than dealing with it as the private family matter it should be.

    Most kids rebel in some form when they come of age. Most of them don’t go nuclear on their parents, though. For a kid to walk away from a nice home, their siblings and whatever financial support their wealthy parent gives them for an insecure and uncertain existence is very telling to me. This is more than typical teenage rebellion, I think.

    • Neah23 says:

      Well she ran away to live with her older boyfriend that her mom doesn’t what her to be with, that sounds a lot like typical teenage rebellion. She also seems to be manipulated by her birth mother and older boyfriend along with her issue with her mom Rosie is not a good situation.

      • SypherMomma says:

        His being in contact with Chelsea while she was underage and dealing heroin tell me everything I need to know about him.

        No mother would want their daughter around such a person and most grown women would not choose him as a partner…a rebellious/angry teenager would.

        Hope Chelsea finds a safe place in this world, with or without her mother.

    • jwoolman says:

      Chelsea herself decided to make things very public, so it is no longer a private family matter. That ship has sailed.

      When Chelsea was still 17, I felt Rosie went public with it as a way to let the boyfriend know he was dealing with a minor with all the potential legal consequences. Also as a way to let anybody she was with know that she did need medication.

    • Tonka says:

      AGREED. It has been really eye opening to me how few supporters Chelsea has on this site. Particularly how it’s being framed as normal teenage rebellion or a biochemical unbalance on Chelsea’s part, but not Rosie’s. I don’t think running away from home is even remotely normal. I know very few people who actually did that and I had a really generic middle class upbringing. I realize Chelsea has an alleged attachment disorder and that certainly challenges the parental relationship but it doesn’t sound like Rosie made much effort to connect with her the way she needed. Perhaps Rosie did and there were professionals involved guiding the situation but there it doesn’t sound like it. I wouldn’t say Rosie’s to blame but she (and Kelli) may have more responsibility than they’re taking.

  12. RRobb says:

    “When your kid isn’t there you see them everywhere.” So so so true. My son went into the Marine Corps this past summer and our only way to communicate was through letters. I was absolutely SICK with missing him. I kept doing what I was supposed to do because we have three other kids, but I felt like I was watching myself do those things – completely disconnected from it. I just wanted my child back.
    She may be messed up as a person and even as a mom, but I find it hard to believe she could fake that connection and I do believe she sincerely loves her child. Sometimes it’s just not enough…

  13. anne_000 says:

    She needs to stop these PR stunts. If Chelsea is mentally ill, then instead of punishing her, Rosie should offer to pay for her mental health treatments and any other medical bills. She does things for charity, so doesn’t charity start at home?

    Also, Rosie can offer her a college tuition fund. There are so many things Rosie can do to help Chelsea as a mother, but instead she started this burned Earth scheme first, imo, and Chelsea had every right to clear her name and set the record straight about what might have been, imo, all the less than truthful accounts Rosie spewed to the public.

  14. Sirsnarksalot says:

    Rosie reads like a pure narcissistic mother. Airing everything out in public, making sure everyone sees her as the victim of her mentally ill child. I don’t see a woman who loves and wants to protect her child, only one who wants to win a PR battle with her.

    I hope Cheese a gets far far away from her and is able to build her own support system to heal.

  15. vespernite says:

    Is is just me or does Chelsea look checked out in every photo. No smile, just the dead stare. Something is definitely off there. Poor thing and poor Rosie, she isn’t always likable, but I believe as a parent she means well.

  16. CatScratchFever says:

    My son was adopted at 3 days old. I divorced his adoptive father when he was 12, and have been fighting custody and child support issues for 7 years. His adoptive father, who stopped working his 100 k + job when I divorced him, and who never changed a diaper, got up with him, never cared and never supported his child emotionally nor financially, chose to alienate him from his mother and engaged in suicide threats, did not return him from visits (resulting in my filing numerous emergency injunctions, which were granted one after the other to get my son back, and engaged in a death March using my son against me, was given physical custody by ME against the advice of a guardian ad litem that I asked for and paid for, because I could not destroy my son. 7 months later, he met a woman with money and left the child on my doorstep with a bag of medicine (paid for by my insurance) on a summer morning after failing his 8th grade year of high school. He has been with me ever since, and dad still battling not to pay child support, insurance, or anything else for the child since I lost my job 1.5 years ago and he remarried. My son turned 18 on October 1st. My now husband has taught him how to be a functional human being. How to be a son, a brother, how to drive, how to date, how to grow into a man. It nearly killed me, the war for my son’s soul, and it has broken us financially, and I have no regrets. Sometimes, the only thing you can do for a child, a child of divorce, an adopted child, is to wait. They WILL come home. Love wins. Always.

    I forgot to add…. when he was gone with his dad for that year, I not only “saw” him everywhere, I dreamed about him, I thought of him every second of every single day. Rosie won’t be able to function if their relationship is truly one of mother and child… that’s the tell. It nearly destroyed my new marriage. I had a hard time, because I *knew* he wasn’t ok. I can’t imagine joking about it. His loss defined me. May e Rosie is just stronger than I was

  17. CatScratchFever says:

    Hurt kids cling to anyone. It sounds to me like Chelsea has hurts that were made worse because her mom SEEMED unavailable to her. I will say, however, that should my son try to find his birth mom (whom I met, and who is an incredibly brave human being, I have told him I would support him 100%. That is his right.