Exclusive: Sherri Shepherd's Surrogate Breaks Her Silence
Thirty-two-year-old Jessica Bartholomew is the surrogate Sherri Shepherd and her then-husband Lamar Sally hired to carry their baby.
But Bartholomew got the shock of her life when she says Shepherd decided she no longer wanted anything to do with the infant.
Bartholomew told INSIDE EDITION, “I just don't understand how she can do that and act like this baby is non-existent. It just blows my mind."
Bartholomew is speaking out for the first time because she says that the former co-host of The View, who has a son from a previous marriage, has abandoned the child that Bartholomew agreed to bring into the world.
"She's a hard-working mom. She is dedicated to her son that she has now, so, you have to be dedicated to the other son," she said.
Bartholomew is a hard-working mom herself. She's raising two daughters on her own and works in data entry at a technology company in Pennsylvania.
She decided to become a surrogate because she liked the idea of helping an infertile couple and she could certainly use the extra money. She was matched up with the celebrity couple through an agency.
Bartholomew says she signed a 23-page contract with Lamar Sally and Shepherd, who was called the "intended mother," on September 12th, 2013. Bartholomew says she was paid $25,000.
An egg donor was also used and she is said to be African-American, tall, and athletic.
Sherri Shepherd announced that her long search for a surrogate was over on the Tom Joyner Morning Show, saying, "I am having a baby, so everything is going great. We found a uterus. We found a girl that didn't have any drama in her life."
Bartholomew says she first met Shepherd when the embryo was transferred into her uterus in November 2013.
INSIDE EDITION’s Diane McInerney asked Bartholomew, "When you discovered that Sherri, a big celebrity, wanted you to be the surrogate, how did you react?"
She replied, "I was really excited that I was apart of it. I was still down to Earth. I still kept it as I am doing a beautiful thing for a family who really wants to have a baby."
McInerney asked, “Did she tell you how much it meant to her?”
"She did tell me it was hard for her to carry a baby after her first pregnancy, so, she seemed very thankful,” she replied.
But as her pregnancy progressed she says Shepherd called her just two or three times.
Bartholomew said, "How I was doing? Asking me 'What I was eating?' Because I’m a vegetarian, so asking me if I got my protein."
When she was 20 weeks pregnant, they met for an important ultrasound. She wrote about the moment in a journal Shepherd had given her to record milestones from her pregnancy.
The journal entry said, "Special moments with the parents, the 20th week ultrasound where they finally got to see their baby boy for the first time."
McInerney asked, "Did she at any point intimate that she did not want to be apart of this pregnancy?"
"I didn't see any warning signs," said Bartholomew.
But soon after, Lamar Sally called with shocking news that they were splitting up and Sherri Shepherd wanted nothing to do with the baby.
Bartholomew said, "Being a parent myself, I just could not believe this was happening. How could you give up on a human being that you decided in a contract you signed to do that? This is your child."
When Bartholomew gave birth last August, Shepherd didn't show up at the hospital. Bartholomew was the first one to hold the baby. When he woke up during the night, she was the one to rock him back to sleep.
And because there was no other mother at the birth, Bartholomew’s name was put on the birth certificate which has landed her in a world of legal problems.
She said, "I do get medical bills for L.J. I am now listed as a non-custodial parent in California. I have a child support case coming against me."
The baby, named Lamar Junior or L.J. is living full-time with his father. Lamar Sally is suing Shepherd, demanding that she acknowledge L.J. is her son and provide child support.
Because Lamar Sally has applied for state assistance, the state of California is even going after Bartholomew’s salary.
On The Wendy Williams Show, Shepherd addressed the baby surrogate drama, saying, "I have a lot of lawyers. I'm in court right now. And it's very public and it's painful."
Bartholomew just wants to move on but enjoys getting updates on the baby from his father. She's going to send clothes to the little boy, who is growing up without the famous woman who promised to be his mommy.
McInerney asked, "What would you like to see happen?"
"I would like to see her sign the birth certificate and take responsibility for L.J. because that's what she signed up to do and that is the right thing to do,” she replied.
INSIDE EDITION reached out to Sherri Shepherd for comment but she declined to provide one.