|Happy mom Catelynn|
Tyler, you didn't have to heart-broken when you left the hospital after Catelynn gave birth to your baby five years ago. Then Tyler and Catelynn handed their daughter, Carly, to adoptive parents Brandon and Teresa Davis, an affluent couple who lived in North Carolina, far from Catelynn and Tyler's home in rural Michigan, making visits difficult and costly. Surely there were willing parents not several states away.
When they relinquished their daughter, Catelynn said "I'm at peace with my decision." That peace was short-lived. As they prepared for Carly's second birthday, Catelynn told Dawn, their Bethany Christian Services counselor who arranged the adoption, in a segment of 16 and Pregnant, "I'm definitely more at peace than I was a year ago [on Carly's first birthday]." Tyler blurted out the hard truth, "Adoption is a constantly coping process. I don't know when you fully cope with it." Catelynn added: "I think it goes on for your whole life."
We certainly can attest to that: giving up a child is not a one-time act that is ever over. Giving up a child to adoption affects you adversely all of your life, as numerous studies have shown. Eventually one may learn to accept and live with the decision, and reunion can make a huge difference in coping with it, but as we have written here numerous times, reunion is no panacea. There is no going back. Nothing is ever "as if" a child has not been given up and become a chess piece in an "adoption plan."
Tyler and Catelynn, however, in the early stages of relinquishment, went on to become ambassadors for adoption. Catelynn and Tyler became paid spokespersons for Bethany Christian Services to promote the "adoption option" at high schools and universities. In subsequent episodes of 16 and Pregnant and in the media, they acknowledged their pain, even appearing on the cover of People, but still holding firm that they had made the right decision, that giving up Carly would ensure she would have the necessary "more" than they could give her.
Lorraine and I wrote several articles for FMF about their inconsolable grief and questioning whether their open adoption would remain open. Tyler did not take kindly to these articles, emailing FMF in 2012 to tell us that he and Catelynn did not give up Carly but made an adoption plan, parroting the sanitizing words of the adoption industry. He insisted he had researched adoption and knew all about it.
I wonder though, whether they feel the same satisfaction with adoption as they look into Novelee's eyes and think of Carly at the same age. Have they considered the obvious--if being raised by the Davis' is best for Carly, why isn't it best for Novalee? Have they considered how will they feel when Novalee asks why her sister lives so far away and when Carly asks why they "made an adoption plan" for her--but kept her sister. Their response that we were older, wiser, richer may ring hollow in Carly's ears.
Tyler and Catelynn don't need to be reminded that no amount of fame and fortune can heal can heal their pain. We hope that other young parents-to-be will read Tyler's words and take heed: Adoption loss will always be with you and your child; a second child cannot replace the lost child. The problems that lead you to consider adoption may seem insurmountable but often help to keep you baby is there if you seek it out. Adoption is a permanent solution to a temporary problem
Catelynn and Tyler's memoir, Conquering Chaos, will be on sale soon. We hope, but don't hold our breath, that they acknowledge what the other teens on 16 and Pregnant and its successor Teen Mom knew: babies are precious, and should be kept close.--jane
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Waiting to Forget: A Motherhood Lost and Found
by Margaret Moorman
Moorman was sixteen when she became pregnant and gave up her child. She became pregnant again at 41, and found she was afraid to be away from her baby daughter. In this moving book, she traces her complicated feelings as she begins to search for her son and to reconcile her past with her new life. This is a beautiful book to read no matter where you are in your adoption journey.
"This is required reading for those who believe that adoption is the easy alternative." --Ellen Goodman in her syndicated column.