Friend: Debbie Rowe “Always Wanted To Be a Mom”

Although Debbie Rowe has not spoken publicly about plans to fight for custody of her two children with Michael Jackson, her longtime friend tells Us that she always wanted to be a mother.

"She loved kids," Jane Steinman — who met Rowe in 1976 when they both worked at the office of Dr. Arnold Klein (the new issue of Us Weekly exclusively reports that the children's father is Klein, Jackson's L.A.-based dermatologist) — told Us. "She was very devoted to her little niece… She loved being at my house, she loved being with my children."

Steinman, who was the matron of honor at Rowe's first wedding to Rick Edelman, has since lost touch with her and said that, at the time, she could not believe that Rowe gave up custody of Prince, 12, and Paris, 11, to Jackson after their 1999 divorce.

"The thing that was astounding to me, and I have to say this only because I loved her, is that she would give up children … Because she loved being with my kids and one day always wanted to be a mom," Steinman told Us.

In fact, Steinman often had Rowe babysit for her. "I know from how she treated my children — I felt totally comfortable that she would be with them whenever because she was very motherly and just had a true love for our family," she said. When she first heard the news that Rowe wed Jackson in 1996 and was pregnant with his children, she admits she was shocked.

"I know that when I worked for Dr. Klein, Michael was a patient, and when he came in after hours, he would only want to see Debbie. He had very specific things. She was a nurse of Dr. Klein, and they became very good friends." She added: "I just think it progressed to a great friendship of somebody who she respected… Whatever you talk about the other side of Michael Jackson, he was a very kind, loving human being. And I can see that Debbie would react to somebody like that."

As surprising as their relationship was to her, Steinman said that if there was "something he wanted her to do, I think she would've done it for him."

Last week, Rowe's attorney said that she "has not reached a final decision concerning the custody proceedings," but Steinman believes Rowe would be a good parent to Jackson's older kids. "She'd be a great mother to them," she told Us. "I think she has all those inborn qualities of being an excellent mother. It would probably be a different upbringing than what they've gone through. I don't even know what her wishes would be at this point."

A guardianship hearing scheduled for Monday has been postponed until July 13 at the request of attorneys for Rowe and Katherine Jackson, who remains the temporary legal guardian of Prince, Paris and Blanket, 7.

Sign up now for the Us Weekly newsletter to get breaking celebrity news, hot pics and more delivered straight to your inbox!

Want stories like these delivered straight to your phone? Download the Us Weekly iPhone app now!