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Iowa baby dies after teen mom changes decision to give him up for adoption

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After his teen mom changed her mind about giving him up for adoption, a four-month-old baby died while he was in the care of his 17-year-old father.

The 16-year-old mother had agreed in September 2013 to give her baby up to Rachel and Heidi McFarland of Ankeny, Iowa, according to our sister station WHO-TV. The couple took supported the mother financially through her pregnancy and went to every doctor’s appointment with her, but the teen mom later changed her mind about the adoption.

That’s when the McFarlands said they had no choice but to return Gabriel to his birth mother in March 2014.

Police said the mother left the baby with his father, Drew Weehler-Smith, so she could run errands Tuesday, April 22, 2014. A witness reported seeing Weehler-Smith leave the apartment without the baby and Gabriel was found, unresponsive, in a chair according to the Des Moines Register.

Weehler-Smith was reportedly charged with neglect of a dependent person. Police said additional charges were possible in the case, pending the results of an autopsy on the baby.


  • Georga Louise Cullison

    These young girls and Boys have no business trying to raise babies. There should not be any period of time that they can change their minds and want the child back. These children are not emotionally equipped to be parents.

    • Lynette Stiles

      I do not agree with your comment. There are many teen parents that are wonderful parents. Shoot, I’m 26 w/ 2 toddlers and a newborn and I can tell you completely honestly that there are YOUNGER/BETTER parents then me. Sure I try my hardest and give my kids everything they need but I’m not perfect. It’s not ALL teen parents, alot yes but not all. There are some very good teen moms. It also is alot different when the kids have family support. Bottom line, it’s very likely for teens to get pregnant now and their parents should be there giving them all the support they need. And maybe then things like this wouldn’t happen so much. You can neglect your child at 12, 17, 20, 30yrs. It doesn’t matter how old you are! Also on the -they shouldn’t be able to change their minds on adoption-people make mistakes and should have time to think and change their minds as it’s all different feelings once baby is born and in your arms!

      • mlance

        I see teen parents all the time (I work at a school)…it’s very sad…they are children themselves but, fortunately, grandparents, who should just be that – grandparents, end up raising the child because the teen child is not responsible enough to raise a child. I agree in that there should not be any “changing their mind.” The child is better off with responsible adult parents (meaning a mother AND a father) that can raise them in a loving home. And on another note, I am tired of supporting all these people who are on welfare and are not working and end up having more children, a lot of the time with different dads. The system has to change!

      • Megan Winemiller

        With how irresponsible the majority of teenagers are nowadays, do you you /really/ want to risk the deaths of children just to find the few teenagers who are /not/ worthless shits?
        Leave child rearing to people who actually have life experience and the ability to support a child without having to rely on /their/ parents.
        Just because the teens were too stupid to use a condom or some other form of birth control does not mean they should be parents to the mistake that inevitably followed.

      • jj

        While I agree that not all teen parents are bad I do not however agreed that the teen’s parents should be there giving them all the support they need. (keyword being should, if the parents want to, that’s different)
        First of all, teens should not be getting pregnant. It is easy to prevent. Be responsible. Secondly, if a teen wish to get pregnant then it is the teen and his/her SO that should be held responsible for taking of the baby. The baby is not a doll, if you are not ready to be an adult and take full responsibility of being a parent, then don’t be one. Thirdly, one shouldn’t be able to change their minds about adoption. If it is allowed, then at the very least they should be required to pay back all the financial supports they receive from the couples that was to adopt the baby.

    • Autumn Burroughs

      Young women have been raising children for 100s of years its not based on age its based on how much you value someone elses life look at the sick operation of pervs in that trailer park in davenport they were all older and still should have never procreated… I was 17 raising two kids that were my ex fiances and was pregnant with my first and im a very good mother finished high school did some college and have a wonderful job. Learning self value and how to care for yourself before having a child to care for isnt jusst aimed toward young kids teens or adults sometime you dont learn it till youe 30+ and in order to value or care for yourself you will never value or care for another no matter your age. Its just sad the government let her renege on the decision.

    • Jill

      This was their child – it has nothing to do with whether she changed her mind about adoption. One thing has nothing to do with the other. The title of this article is just sensationalism, something to sell papers.
      **The crime here is that a child died. **
      NOT that the mother was a teen, NOT that the mother changed her mind about adoption.

    • Elizabeth Freeman Newbury

      I am 21 with 3 kids ages 4 1/2 3 and 2 and i raise my kids the same way a 30 year old would raise a child if not better and i was a trouble making teen but my age when i had my daughter should not have been a factor as to weather or not i get to keep my child i made the grown ass decision to give birth to her so i made the grown ass decision to raise her my children are very healthy and happy babies that have everything

    • shar

      amen! kids raising babies when they cannot even take care of themselves. its unreal! and its the babies who suffer.

    • Anissa Roberts

      I am extremely offended by your comment. Yes, you are entitled to your opinion but I am equally entitled to tell you what a load of BS it is.
      I was a teen mother. I was an amazing mother. I finished HS in a day and time when girls were using it as the perfect excuse to drop out. I worked hard to provide for my son. And not all teen fathers are useless like this one was. My son’s father and I didn’t end up with the “fairytale” but we remained civil and took care of our child together. I have gone on to have and raise two more children as haas he. Our son is now a father himself and was not another teen statistic like his parents – none of our children have been. But they are all HS graduates, productive members of society, no addicts and no jail birds!!! This young mother did what she felt would be right and goods for her baby. Just because someone evil took him from her doesn’t give you the right to sit in judgement!!!!

  • Donna Lamb

    how awful. I can imagine how horrible the couple feels, as well, who had the baby through adoption to begin with :( terrible … poor little fella :( Kids that age, generally, are not equipped to take care of babies 24/7. Unfortunately, they are physically able to make them but that’s about it
    :( God bless the ones who mourn this baby :(

  • Candice

    I had my kids very young. I am 26 & my kids are now 11,8 & 5.. I dont agree everyone is to young to be a parent . My kids are wonderful and I don’t regret a single bit of it. It is sad she lost her baby.. Rest in peace little one.. How about we stop telling people their to young to care for their children.. Not all teen moms are the same very sad..

  • Deanna

    Well I was a teen mother… I still finished school married my daughters father. Grew our family and now we have 3 daughters! I’ve been with my husband a total of 14 years, had no help from the gov. Or parents and my children are just fine 2 now are in private school as the little one is just under age 2.
    This is a tragedy, sometimes these things happen and we need to get all the details…
    I’m so glad that as a simple human being I do not have to judge individuals.
    That will be up to The Lord.
    I’m sure every one is terribly upset.

  • Mandy

    I was a teen mom! I rocked it finished school went to college all with a new baby! Some teen moms are amazing and some are horrible! But adults are also not the best parents either! I think it’s all about who the person is and what choices they make! So let’s not point fingers just cause she is young!

  • Casandra

    The fact that the mother changed her mind about potentially putting her baby up for adoption has nothing to do with why or how this baby died! Way to look stupid WQAD!!!!

  • Joanna

    It actually has everything to do with it. If she would have never changed her mind the baby probably would not have was that hard to understand?

    • Autumn Burroughs

      its not her fault that she wanted to keep a baby that grew inside of her it’s the fathers fault that the babies dead not hers

  • justalilamazing

    The way the media has gone about reporting this is an absolute insult to all mothers that are teenagers. No mention that she had anything to do with the abuse that took place, yet the headline is teen mother who changed her mind now baby dead, yet the father is the murdered. I am so disgusted with the media as it is. My daughter is 12 now, I am a college educated successful woman with a child that was born while I was still a teenager. I had a wonderful family picked out, however I could not let someone else raise my daughter. Not all people are equipped to become parents, and the odds are greater when those people are younger or have less resources. I was lucky, I had an amazing support system and a great community full of resources. My heart breaks for the families, may this child rest in peace and shame on the media for such elusive slander.

  • A.lawson

    Who are you people to judge weather someone is or is not old enough to raise a child?? I had my 1st baby at 15 yrs old and I had my 2nd at 19… I did perfectly fine an so have many other young teen parents that I know!!! Not all teen parents are bad;; and about the article all mothers when putting there child up for adoption have a te frame where they can change there mind on if they still want to proceed with the adoption even after birth, not that I personally ever considered it:: and were you people even reading it all the young mother left the baby with the father so she could go run errands, the father is at fault not the mother, although I am sorry for the couple that had adopted the little boy and lost him.. My thoughts and prayers go out to the couple and the mother; father on the other hand needs some serious help and should definately deserves what he’s got coming to him plus a whole lot more.. Rest in peace little baby boy!!!

  • Jamie Kunzer

    I have to say I was a teen mom at 15 and with the help and support system I had from my mom, my soon to be 21 year old daughter would not be where she is today. And she is now a young mom as well. Though teens can get together to make a baby I feel the parents should be having that discussion if they feel they are doing something together. Because I feel had my mother had that talk with me maybe I would not have had my first baby so young.

  • Stacey

    All these comments about teens having babies and people think it is a right choice makes me sick. I am now in my 40 and not able to have kids. If they put the baby up for adoption they should not be able to see it, it should be taken away as soon it is born. So glad people support teens having babies. You should not have babies if you can’t support them. I can afford them but can’t have them. My heart breaks for the couple that was suppose to adopt that precious baby.

    • Autumn Burroughs

      Idt people are saying or supporting teens having babies we are just saying not all teen parents are bad and adults hurt n kill babies daily not just teens….and yes it is wrong they were able to renege on that but it also wasnt the mothers fault the baby dying in dads care is dads fault.

  • Luke

    The way the media has portrayed this is awful. The fact that an innocent child is dead because of negligence is bad enough. Sad, sad.

  • motorcity440

    I find it interesting how people instantly jump on the self-righteous bandwagon when you put the “adoption” tag up on this page. The poster Jill aboe is absolutely correct. The crime is a child died. Where’s your rage over that? Love that little innendo about how much money the prospective adoptee parents spent on the mother. Is this article about doption and you’re using a child’s death to argue for that? Or is it about a child dying? Pathetic’s the word for it alright. Oh and by the way, adoptive parents have been known to murder children too.
    Just in case you thought they were above that sort of inhumanity.

  • karley molina

    You people are wrong about teenage parents being irresponsible I was 16when I had my daughter and 18 with my son becoming a mother u have a choice to change ur ways n be a grown adult for the sake of your child or beimmature it ddoesn’t matter the age I know plenty of 25-30 year olds who are irresponsible parents

  • Klancy

    It’s not necessarily age, it’s maturity and commitment. Mary was 14 or 15 when she had Jesus, I hardly believe that God made a mistake choosing a teen for His son’s mother. The problem is that the majority of teens now adays, can’t take care of themselves, let alone a child. Yes, there is the small percentage of very good, very loving, very responsible teenage mothers. God Bless Them… and God Bless the mothers that understand there children need more than they have to give.

  • Jordan

    Still haven’t seen a comment blaming the father of this child. Everyone is up in arms about the mother changing her mind. The crime here is that the piece of shit father abandoned the baby,and he died. Men are responsible for their children too, not just the mothers. Why are we as women so quick to tear each other apart?

  • ashley

    not all teen parents are bad i was a teen parent, it seems young men this age have the problem! I read it all the time look at the news! a dad just killed a baby recently because he wanted to play his playstation and the baby kept crying or these young ladies are just to trusting and leave the child with a boyfriend who ends up beating the child for something as silly as wetting there pants! thats seems to be a bigger issue than teen mothers lets not blame this young lady for doing something as innocent as running errands.

  • nik

    This is sad. This poor little boy died and all everyone can talk about is teen moms, adoption, who we should be sad for… im sad for everyone involin this. Im sad for the mother who wanted a second chance and her family, and the adoptive parents who supported the mother through her pregnancy, emotionally and financially, went to the doctors appointments, coached her through the birth and took the little boy home from the hospital and raise him until he was four months old. Its sad this happened and im sad for everyone involved. No one more then the other, its just as sad for all. How did this become anything more then that!? R.I.P. Gabriel McFarland

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