Friends matter. Maci BookoutIt has Amber Portwood’s back when it comes to her custody drama.
The Teen Mom: The Next Chapter star, 31 — who has starred alongside Portwood, 32, on the Teen MomFranchise since their respective 16 and Pregnant episodes aired in 2009 — exclusively tells Us Weekly that “checking in” with her costar, 32, is “important” to her.
“She’s kind of a loner, but, like, in a good way,” Bookout explains, adding that the Indiana native “is not necessarily gonna be the one that calls or reaches out when she’s having a bad day.”
The Things That Matter cofounder reveals that while the twosome “normally … talk on the phone,” they don’t text as often. “But recently, in the last few months … it’s really just been about checking in and making sure [she’s OK],” Bookout shares.
Portwood lost legal custodianship of her 4-year-old boy James in July. She shares James with an ex Andrew Glennon. The judge also granted permission for the little one to move to California — the 38-year-old TV producer’s home state — from Indiana, where the So You’re Crazy, Too? author lives. (Portwood also shares a 13-year-old daughter Leah, with ex). Gary Shirley.)
“I just feel like when somebody that you’re close to is going through such a difficult time, like she is, if I think about her, I’m texting her,” Bookout tells Use. “Because I’m like, I never know if there’s a moment when she really needs somebody to check in I don’t wanna not check in. And I feel like it’s important for the people that are close to her to do that.”
Leah Messer, Briana DeJesus and Cheyenne Floyd — who also star with Bookout and Portwood on Teen Mom: The Next Chapter — have stuck by the Never too late author amid her devastating news.
“I’ve talked to Amber, I’ve reached out,” DeJesus, 28, exclusively told Us last month, adding, “I told her I’m always here if she needs anything.”
Messer also sent messages of support to her costars. “I’ve talked to Amber, and I think Amber’s a very strong woman,” the West Virginia native, 30, shared with Use.
Floyd, for her part, added, “She’s changed her life, regardless of what anyone can say.”
Portwood — who has been candid about her mental health issues and past issues with substance abuse — lost custody of James three years after she was arrested for domestic assault against Glennon. During the 2019 incident, Portwood allegedly wielded the machete at her then-boyfriend.
Portwood spoke out after the custody ruling was made earlier in the summer.UseShe is worthy of a second chance.
“I’ve worked so hard to better myself and improve my relationships with my children. … A person should have the chance to redeem themselves and not be tethered to their problems from the past,” she said in a statement at the time. “I’ve spent years rebuilding bridges and did everything that was required of me, including submitting 21 negative drug tests and undergoing multiple psychological evaluations, if your road has not been perfect, but you’ve worked hard to become a better, more stable and caring person today, keep moving forward as I will. I’ll never stop fighting for my children who I love more than anything.”
Portwood also had a turbulent relationship with Leah, in addition to the fallout from James. This relationship was a result of Teen Mom OG for over a decade — and continues to on Teen Mom: The Next ChapterThe premiere of, which was earlier this month.
As for Bookout’s own drama with her ex Ryan Edwards — with whom she shares 13-year-old son Bentley — the Bulletproof author notes that she and Bentley’s father, 34, “don’t have a relationship at all.” For their part, Bookout, who is also the mother of Jayde, 7, and Maverick, 6, with husband Taylor McKinney, adds that Bentley and his dad’s own relationship is still difficult.
Teen Mom: The Next ChapterMTV airs Tuesdays, 8 p.m. ET/PT
Diana Cooper reporting