“We miss our baby” trumpets the cover of People (9/20/10) with a large picture of attractive teen parents Catelynn and Tyler, and an insert of them smiling with an equally attractive older couple, Brandon and Teresa holding baby Carly. We learn from the article that the Detroit couple placed their newborn daughter with the North Carolina couple whom they selected after seeing a YouTube video Brandon and Teresa made for “prospective birth parents.”
“Catelynn and Tyler have struggled with the complex web of feelings that comes with any adoption.Tyler tells us they gave away their daughter because “‘it all comes down to what do you think your kid deserves? And I think Carly deserves exactly [the parents] she’s got now’"; Teresa and Brandon are “amazing.” Adds Catelynn: "‘I don’t regret my decision at all, but you have your days when you miss her.” Both parents say they are proud to put a positive face on adoption.
‘When I see a dad and a little girl walking to the park, I think, “I wish I could do that right now,” admits Tyler, who has a tattoo of Carly’s name, newborn handprint and birth date. (Catelynn has a similar tattoo of Carly’s footprint).”
The face they put on adoption in Tuesday’s showing of MTV’s Teen Mom is anything but proud. Carly’s first birthday is soon and she is thousands of miles away. Tyler and Catelynn take a gift for their daughter to the adoption agency for the social worker to mail because they are not permitted to know the amazing adopters’ address. Tyler and Catelynn are excited about their their gift, a necklace with their and Carly’s birthstones.
They tell the social worker that Catelynn’s mom and Tyler’s dad, who married each other before Carly was born, did not want to be around on Carly’s birthday. Catelynn’s mom opposed the adoption. Smiling, the social worker says “just because people don’t understand your decision doesn’t mean it was wrong, does it?” “No”, says Catelynn, breaking into tears.
On Carly’s birthday, Catelynn asks if Tyler “thinks about the day they gave Carly away. “I think about it every day says” Tyler. “It was the right decision; I’m happy” they both say sadly.
Later, they call the adoptive parents. “What did you do for Carly’s birthday party,” they ask apprehensively. Teresa and Brandon assure them that Carly had a party and ate lots of cake. “She’s a big eater”, says Teresa. “Just like Tyler,” says Catelynn and both giggle.
“Did Carly receive her gifts,” Catelynn asks anxiously. “ Yes, the necklace was so pretty says Teresa. Catelynn sighs with relief. They hear Carly in the back ground. Clearly they don’t want the call to end but there is nothing more to say.
Teen Mom and People feature three other teen moms, Maci, Amber, and Farrah, who are raising their babies. Each is struggling with every day sorts of conflicts – Maci wants to move another city, away from her parents. The baby’s father, with whom she no longer has a relationship, opposes the move but she plunges ahead.
Amber is in a power struggle with Gary, her daughter’s father. He wants to get married; she is unsure. He is a devoted father while Amber is impatient with their daughter, blaming her crying spells on Gary for spoiling the baby.
Farrah’s daughter’s father was killed in a car accident. Farrah has continuing conflicts with her mother who she feels is too controlling.
None of these young women and men regrets their decision to nurture their child. They are affectionate, kind, and loving to their children (even Amber although she could use a good parenting class); their parents are heavily involved with their grandchildren. Their conflicts are resolvable. They live in the here and now, anxious but excited about the future.
Grief permeates Tyler and Catelynn. Their problem has no resolution. They relive the past, the day they lost their daughter, because they cannot see a future; the present amounts to a two minute phone call.
Catelynn tells us that had they decided to raise Carly, "I think we probably would’ve struggled a lot.” They are struggling, not with diapers and nap times and temper tantrums, but with their interminable loss.
And what did they gain for giving up a part of their souls? “Looking ahead, the young couple, who are eager to enroll in college, say they plan to marry and start a family – eventually. ‘Once we get married, we want to have our own time for a couple of years’ says Catelynn.”
They will have lots of their own time -- as they wait for calls and visits with their daughter which may never come.