Required Viewing: One Adoption Story

An Interesting Request
One of the most interesting education assignments we were asked to complete as part of our adoption requirements was some required viewing of an episode of MTV’s “16 and Pregnant”.  To be honest, I haven’t watched MTV in over a decade (you know, back when they use to actually show music videos on the channel…), and was a little taken aback as to how I would be educated by MTV.  A PBS documentary, sure, maybe something on Discovery Channel, but MTV?

Catelynn and Tyler
Catelynn Lowell and Tyler Baltierra were high school juniors, living near the Canadian border in Algonac, Michigan.  They’ve been together for three years up to this point in their relationship and their home life leaves a lot to be desired from a support perspective.  When Catelynn identifies that there “is absolutely nothing to do in the Michigan winter”, you can figure out what’s coming next.

One Perspective..
The most important thing about watching this episode (approx. 40 minutes, so get comfortable, but it is worth it…), is that it is a single story and a unique perspective on the adoption story.  Catelynn and Tyler selected a local branch of Bethany to work with for their adoption.  This was our first chance to see the process that birthparents go through to select an agency, make the commitment to make an adoption plan for their child, choose an adoptive family, aspects of life at the hospital, and what life after placement is like with their daughter’s new family.  The laws and adoption steps are different from state to state, so every situation will be different, but if you can take the time, the episode most definitely opened our eyes…

(We attempted to link the video to this page, but that didn’t go to well…)
To watch the full episode detailing Catelynn and Tyler’s Story, Click Here

A Success Story
MTV aired this story as final episode in their first season of the show.  Since then, 47 episodes have been made, and the franchise has become wildly popular, spinning off new shows in the process.  This episode, Catelynn and Tyler’s is widely considered the greatest success story of the series.  I personally don’t think it is because they necessarily chose an adoption plan, though I believe it played a role.  These two young people are probably some of the most considerate, down to earth people I have ever seen and at the end of the 42 minute roller coaster of an episode, we had a very real and concrete understanding of the realities of the birthparents.
A Unique Connection
One interesting takeaway from watching the show for us, was how closely we connected to the birthparents vs. the adoptive parents.  Brandon and Teresa are great examples of adoptive parents and have gone through a substantial commitment to reach this point and they are the proud parents of a daughter that they are raising in an open adoption.  For us though, it was the connection of watching Catelynn and Tyler leaving a hospital without a child.  The bond between parents and child, even in an extremely short time is intense and lasting, helping us to understand why an open adoption and maintaining a connection with the birthparents is so instrumental in the success of the relationship and the growth of the child.
The Story Continues
The story of Catelynn, Tyler, and their daughter was shown in July of 2009.  Since then, their story has been chronicled through interviews in both magazines and television, discussing adoption and how that decision has changed their lives in so many ways.  Catelynn is looking forward to getting her teaching degree and would like to learn Sign Language to teach deaf students and Tyler has his sights on becoming a social worker.  Their daughter Carly has recently celebrated her third birthday and they continue to be a big part of her life.
We had no idea that two teenagers half a country away could teach us such an important lesson about responsibility, commitment to one another and their child, and setting a great example that so many can learn from.  We hope this “required viewing” brought you a new perspective or helped you learn something new about domestic infant adoption.  We certainly did…

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