It’s been four months since former Teen Mom star Amber Portwood began serving her five-year sentence behind bars but 4-year-old daughter Leah has yet to be told why her mom left.
“I haven’t been able to say to her, ‘Mommy’s in jail,’” her dad, Gary Shirley, tells In Touch in an exclusive interview. “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.’
And during regular phone conversations with her mother, Leah will say, “‘I miss you. When can I see you?’” reveals Amber during her upcoming MTV special, which airs Oct. 9. “She actually said, ‘Can I come over to your house?’ I don’t really think Leah understands at all.”
Leaving Gary responsible for Leah, Amber chose life behind bars at Indiana’s Rockville Correctional Facility over a court-ordered drug rehab program for charges stemming from a drug arrest.
“I’m doing the best I can,” he insists. Still, he often feels so overwhelmed that he's brought to tears. “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.”