Before Barbara Walters adopted her daughter, Jackie, she thought she had it all. It wasn’t until after her little girl arrived that she learned the true meaning of love.
“I adore my daughter,” the TV anchor gushed during a previous episode of Oprah’s Master Class. “To know that you can have this kind of love that I feel for her … ”
Barbara couldn’t even finish her sentence when she began to think about her kid, who was born in June 1968. “I’m laughing because my daughter said to me recently, ‘Mom, when you have Alzheimer’s, you can come down and live next to me. Not if you have Alzheimer’s, but, Mom, when you have Alzheimer’s,’” she recalled while smiling. “I take that as a very loving compliment.”
As Jackie started to grow up, she found it very “difficult” to be the daughter of a very famous TV journalist who was always in demand.
“Jackie has found it difficult, all her life, because she wants to be anonymous, she just doesn’t like to be a celebrity,” her mom said in her 2014 news special called Barbara Walters: Her Story. “She may be the only one in the world who doesn’t like to be a celebrity.”
Barbara tried very hard to shield Jackie away from the world, but it didn’t help that she would sometimes put her career first.
“I was so busy with a career. It’s the age-old problem,” she explained. “And, you know, on your deathbed, are you going to say, ‘I wish I spent more time in the office?’ No. You’ll say, ‘I wish I spent more time with my family,’ and I do feel that way. I wish I had spent more time with my Jackie.”
In a 2002 joint interview with Barbara and Jackie, Jackie told NBC News of the sweet way her mom framed her adoption: “She used to say that some mothers have babies from their tummies, and some have it from their heart. And you came from my heart.”
Barbara’s daughter also admitted to outlet that she ran away from home at 15 years old in 1984, adding, “I was a runaway. I loved to run. I thought running would solve all my problems.”
“Another parent would call the police,” Barbara said of the month Jackie was away from home. “I didn’t want the headlines. It’s not that I didn’t want the headlines for myself. I didn’t want the headlines for her. I thought, ‘I don’t know what she’ll do.’”
Jackie also revealed that she had an issue with drugs as a teen. “I did marijuana,” she added. “It was called crank then, but it’s now methamphetamines. Quaaludes were all over the place. Valium. And the drugs numbed all the other feelings. But it didn’t take away the issues that I had. They got bigger and bigger. I was more and more isolated from my mom’s world. And I thought running would solve all my problems.”
However, after three years in an “intervention program” in Idaho, she got clean.
Were it not for her mother’s decision to have her get treatment, Jackie said she would have “been dead.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).