Thursday, March 28, 2013

Adoption is about choice, not coercion


I have a confession. I watch 16 and Pregnant and all the Teen Mom shows. It's so lame, I know, but I like to learn about teen pregnancy and I have a small obsession with reality TV. Anyways, I have been watching the earlier episodes of 16 and pregnant and in the first season, there is the famous episode of Caitlyn & Tyler who chose adoption for their daughter, Carly. Everyone knows them as the big adoptive advocates and also cast members of Teen Mom. I never realized there was also another girl who chose adoption in the 2nd season. I think it is awesome that MTV is willing to show girls who choose to place . I personally would not want cameras in my face during my painfully emotional journey, but I think it is awesome that there are girls who are willing to show the world in depth what their experience was like.

The reason I am sharing this episode and my opinion is because I was truly upset and I felt so bad for this girl. I thought she was treated unfairly by her parents and I feel like she didnt have a fair chance in her decision to place. Let me give you a little background.

Lori was 17 years old and she attended an all girls Catholic high school. She was adopted when she was a newborn and she does not know her birth mom.  Lori became pregnant at 17 by her ex boyfriend, Cory. Lori's parents did not take this news well (what parent would?) they were greatly disappointed and they really wanted Lori to place her son for adoption. Lori and Cory didn't want to place because they were too attached to the baby and couldn't imagine placing him. *I want to add that all of these feelings Lori and Cory are having, I feel, are completely ok and normal. I too had/have lots of attachment to Kinley* Throughout the whole episode, Lori's mom would always add her 2 cents in about adoption and how she needs to choose it because they are not ready to be parents *Valid point* Lori and Cory were broken up and had no plans on getting back together but they felt they were ready to take on the challenge of being parents. Lori's friends wanted to throw her a baby shower and Lori's mom said noway. Her mom said that no one should be excited about her baby because of the way he was being brought into this world (Unmarried, teenagers, etc...) *I was so offended by this. Just because a baby was not conceived or born into an "ideal" family does NOT mean the baby should not be unwelcome. Any and all babies are precious gifts. Even if the baby was parented by drug addicts living in a cardboard box.. All babies should feel welcomed and no woman should feel shamed for their mistakes or decisions. especially by her mother!* Lori was so torn between parenting and adoption because she truly wanted to parent and her parents disapproved. It was getting down to the last months of Lori's pregnancy and she hadn't made an official decision. Her parents kept lecturing Lori about how she needed to be honest with them about what she really wanted. Lori always reassured them that she honestly didn't know what she wanted to do. *In my own experience, I had times when I wasn't sure if adoption was right. I felt a little indecisive at times. I felt for Lori in this way because she WAS being honest with her parents, she just wasn't giving them the answer they wanted to hear.* Cory decided he felt it was best to go through with adoption and Lori felt blindsided because he wasn't on her side. They met with a couple and they seemed to be just right and then a few weeks later- the adoptive couple backed out because they didn't feel it was enough time to start the adoptive process. Lori and Cory felt hurt *I would* and they were questioning their decisions. At this time, they had about 2 weeks until "D- day" and they were kicked back to square one. Cory decided he wanted to parent again and Lori felt stuck because her parents were pressuring her. She ended up picking a couple and when the baby was born, she spent her hospital stay with her son and placed him with his new family.

I felt connected with Lori through out the whole episode, in that we are both birth moms. I however, did NOT agree with her parent's roll in her decision. I know that she was only 17, but I still feel adoption has to be the birthmother's 100% decision. Adoption is a permanent thing and for her to regret her decision is something she would effect for the rest of her life. That is something no girl should have in her life. From watching this episode I wish I could reach out to Lori. I feel she was not given all the appropriate resources she needed to choose adoption and get ready for it. Her mom set a meeting up with another birth mom who had a positive experience, which is a great resource, but I feel like Lori needed to see an adoption counselor and do some research. It seemed like her mom was over bearing and controlling. When Lori was at a doctor's appointment, her doctor told her it wouldn't be a good idea to be with the baby after he was born because it would be too emotionally painful. I was so livid when I heard this. That doctor is an OBGYN NOT a therapist. That doctor doesn't know anything about emotions of a birth mom. I was screaming at the show saying "DON'T LISTEN TO HER!!" all birth moms need to have 100% control over their hospital plan. I was grateful she ended up being with the baby for a few days because I truly feel she would regret those bonding moments. The whole episode was aggravating because Lori never really had the chance to decide for herself. It seemed her mom made all the decisions and her mom wanted Lori to place because of her own personal reputation. Her mom expressed how embarrassed and shameful it felt to have a teen mom for a daughter. What an awful thing to say. I would feel so sad if my parents ever said that to me. At the very end of the episode, it shows Lori and her parents having a conversation post-placement. Her mom said "Aren't you glad all these fears are all gone now?" Oh my, how livid I was after hearing this. ALL FEARS BEHIND? I think her mom is a complete moron. She clearly does not know all the fears and struggles that COME because of placement (see previous blog post). It's not just rainbows and butterflies after placement. It is more like hell. After her mom said that, I am truly convinced she wanted Lori to choose adoption so that she could forget about it like it never happened, which is an absurd way to look at it.

I truly hope that Lori was able to come to peace with her placement and I really hope that she had some kind of say in her situation. I am a big adoption advocate, but not in the event of coercion. Even if Lori was 17 years old, her baby is 100% hers and not her mother's and she shouldn't feel forced to do things her mother's way; Especially when it comes to adoption, when it permanent. I so wish I could give her a little insight on adoption and a huge hug for that matter.

I know that reality TV shows don't show what really goes on 100%, so all my opinions are based on what was televised, but the way MTV portrayed her story, I was totally upset. All birth moms need time to research adoption and feel confident about their choice and also get ready for the "hand over". It's the hardest thing a woman will ever do and something that can't just be chosen because her mom or dad said she needs to. It's a HUGE life decision that effects EVERY aspect of her life forever. That's why I created the quote- "Adoption is about choice, not coercion" I included the link to the episode below, if you are interested in watching it!

16 and Pregnant (Season 2) | Ep. 5 | Lori: Lori's parents want her to choose adoption, but as someone who was adopted herself, Lori doesn't want her baby to be haunted by all that's haunted her. But with an unreliable ex-boyfriend, she eventually realizes it may be the only option.