Before we leave Catelynn and Tyler, America's most celebrated birth/first parents, it's obvious that their decision to relinquish their
daughter to an infertile couple is being applauded by many bloggers. Here's quick sampling of what I found:
"The program (Sixteen and Pregnant and Teen Mom) has forced them to become obsessed with baby Carly, even though she’s not in their care. Both Tyler and Catelynn have tattoos of her name, and they continue to think of themselves as parents. They’re not parents. They chose other people to play those roles. And while I think this was a good decision, I don’t think dwelling on the fact that Carly isn’t with them is emotionally healthy, especially since her (the baby's) adoptive parents can cut all ties and disappear whenever they want."
|says it all...|
Back to reality TV: The adopting couple live several states away from Michigan where Catelynn and Tyler are from--in North Carolina where Brandon is a financial planner in Charlotte--and in real life that would make it difficult for a teenager to gather up enough cash to make the trip across the country to visit frequently--if at all. If I could give one piece of advice to a woman who feels she must give up her child--other than tell her NOT to do it--it would be to find a couple who lives near by, who have strong ties to the area, and if possible, are RELATED TO YOU. That's probably the best insurance the adoptive parents won't take the goods (that is, your baby) and run into their own Adoptive Parents Protection Program.
Open adoption? Since I have asked for first mothers to come forward to tell their stories about how it worked out for them for a magazine story, I have read no shortage of heartbreaking tales. They all start the same: much contact between the parties was promised, but after a year or three, the adoptive parents decide "it isn't working for them," and so they cut contact, and the mother--the biological/birth mother who trusted them with her child--is left wondering what the hell happened and where her child is. Or if she does know, she may feel they have no legal right to contact the child until he or she is eighteen. Facebook has led to numerous (first/birth) parents finding their children and making contact that way before eighteen, without any legal ramifications that I am aware of to date.
Legal right? Unless you are arrested for stalking, or harassment, I wonder about that. Right, the adopting parents have legal control of the child, but...well, I don't know. What I do know is that there is so much duplicity in open adoptions today that a little civil disobedience might just be called for. Besides, are there actual laws that say that the birth mother cannot contact a child she relinquished after birth parents reneged on their promise for openness? If there are, let me know.
If you are a woman considering surrendering your child in an open adoption here are some safeguards to put in place:
a) GET THE ADOPTING PARENTS' NAMES AND ADDRESS (and visit their home)
b) KNOW THEIR PLACE OF BUSINESS, AND THEIR BUSINESS
c) GET THE NAME OF THE CHILD THEY INTEND TO GIVE HIM (in writing)
d) AND AS MUCH VERIFIABLE INFORMATION ABOUT THEM AS POSSIBLE
e) AND VERIFY THAT INFORMATION YOURSELF.
You should act as if they might go back on all their rosy promises. Just say, It's for everyone's protection, when they ask you why you are being so vigilent. Tell them you have heard stories, in as sweet a voice as possible. And while it still might not hold up, write out a contract laying out the conditions of visitation, photographs and updates, have a lawyer do it for you if possible, and have it signed by you, the agency social worker if there is one (that ought to freak out a few of them and make them take notice) and any lawyer who is involved--your own, or the agency's, or the lawyer for the adopting parents or parent, and then have it notarized. At least make them aware that they are agreeing to certain conditions, not just making bedside promises interspersed with fuzzy platitudes. And it will put the lawyer and the agency on notice that you are serious.
Any adoption that does not put you in direct contact with the parents is not an open adoption, it is a con to get your baby away from you. Visit their home, don't just meet at the mall and let them take you shopping and a nice lunch; meet as many family members as you can. A friend of mine who is an editor at a major consumer magazine said that another editor on the staff, a man, announced that he never wanted to appear on television promoting the magazine...because their child's mother might recognize him....What went unsaid was: and then the birth mother would be able to track him and his wife down. This is undoubtedly an "open adoption," otherwise the first mother wouldn't know what he looked like. The guy's a shit. I do want to add here that I have also heard from adoptive parents who fully intended to keep the adoption open--and want to--but it is the mother who disappears. It happens.
The situation for Catelynn and Tyler is so different because the Davies will not be able to hide; the show will certainly arrange visits between the two couples and the baby to heighten the poignant drama. The Davies cannot disappear. This open adoption is pretty solid.
Back to the other bloggers:
"...it hasn't been easy for them, given the lack of support and guidance on at least two of their parents' parts. Catelynn's mother has, at times, seemed bitter over her daughter's desire to better her life."This last comment refers to the fact that Catelynn's mother (April Lowell) has been against the adoption apparently from the beginning, and because she would not sign the adoption papers, the hand-off of the baby had to be in a parking lot. The decision also seems to have been the nexus of much dissension in the household; I'm not saying that April is a model mother, as any watcher of the show will tell, you but on some level she understands that giving up a baby is not a Good Thing. (Understand I could get some of the plot details wrong because I have not been watching--it just was too sickening and depressing to think about. I like to watch escapist TV, such as In Plain Sight until sigh...the lead character got pregnant and is talking adoption as if it had no repercussions. In The Least.)
But "her daughter's desire to better her life"--ah, that is going to sound really great to baby Carly one day. One of the other girls from some show talked about being able to go to the prom because she gave her baby away. O vey. My head hurts just hearing that. Carly herself is destined for a "better life," if that is measured in silver spoons and pony rides, and if adoptee memoirs are any clue as to what might happen, she will end up with a standoffish relationship with her lower class parents (Ithaka, The Mistress's Daughter, to name two), and be ever so glad she was adopted and fall all over herself telling that to her parents by nature, Catelynn and Tyler.
Who are just going to feel great about that, right? "Thank you for giving me up" are the saddest words a real mother can ever hear. What it means is: I'm so glad I didn't grow up with you as my mother.
What would be the counter response with the same kind of intent? "I'm so glad I gave you away. I had a much better life without you. And look how great you turned out! Gosh, I'm proud! You wouldn't have had a chance with me as your mother!"
We all need to be aware of the true meaning and intent of our words.--lorraine
Carla Moquin's website discusses the case in detail at her website: Bring Peri Home.