Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Spotted in this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly:

Series Debut

16 and Pregnant

This reality series, which focuses on a different teen each week, features cute, Juno-esque graphics. But unlike that fluffy comedy, 16 spotlights the struggles girls face — and what they're forced to give up — when having a child. It's a must-watch for sexually active teens everywhere. B+Tim Stack

Wanting to know more, I found this on the MTV Website:

16 and Pregnant is an hour-long documentary series focusing on the controversial subject of teen pregnancy. Each episode follows a 5-7 month period in the life of a teenager as she navigates the bumpy terrain of adolescence, growing pains, rebellion, and coming of age; all while dealing with being pregnant.

Each story offers a unique look into the wide variety of challenges pregnant teens face: marriage, adoption, religion, gossip, finances, rumors among the community, graduating high school, getting (or losing) a job. Faced with incredibly adult decisions, these girls are forced to sacrifice their teenage years and their high school experiences. But there is an optimism among them; they have the dedication to make their lives work, and to do as they see fit to provide the best for their babies.

I’ve watched the trailer twice and it’s like watching a plane crash or train wreck--sensationalistic, edited for drama and ratings, not reality, and of course there's a camera in everyone's face so how much is reality versus acting? The cast members in the trailer have twangy accents and one guy (I’m guessing a grandfather-to-be) was wearing a sleeveless T-shirt, baseball cap, and sported a very long mullet...in other words, perpetuating the stereotype of an unwed young mother as trash. And yes, adoption is mentioned.

I wonder if the series sought out pregnant teens in affluent zip codes; probably not, because those teens have the means and access to pregnancy alternatives; besides, I doubt they (or their parents) would subject themselves to such public scrutiny.

I’m as uneasy about this series as I was the ABC series "Who's Your Daddy?” where a young woman had to guess which man was her birthfather à la The Bachelor (there were even red roses, it was...just creepy and unseemly. Thank God just the one show was aired). My gut reaction upon hearing of the program was shame on MTV, and what were those young girls and their families thinking, or not thinking?

An old friend of mine, an adoptive mother who facilitated my adoption support group for a decade, posted this comment on her facebook page last Sunday:

"[She] has observed a pregnant young girl (high school student?) in church who asks for God's care for her baby and herself. Today I congratulated her and her mother for planning to keep the baby -- told her that was the best for all! Tears came into the mother's eyes -- so I hugged her twice!”

I responded with, “Yay!...Yay Yay! If I were with you right now I’d squeeze you so hard I’d probably break a rib.”

I know many will disagree that it’s best for a 16-year-old mother to be a mother herself, but as we’ve discussed often and strongly here at FMF, relinquishment and its consequences are even more difficult.

I'm sure the news media will have plenty to say about 16 and Pregnant tomorrow, when the show premieres. So should we.--Linda

Lorraine here, adding that I think the show might actually do some good and get kids to be more careful sexually, i.e, use birth control. New mom Bristol Palin is now an advocate for teenager not having kids--of course, her answer is abstinence alone, which is unrealistic. Adoption for some of teen moms is going to happen; I won't be offended or put off if relinquishing a child for adoption is presented on the MTV show as the terrible terrible gut-wrenching, life changing event that it is. Will I watch? Probably check in and see how it hits me. And I might as well add, I thought even the incredibly tacky tacky Who's Your Daddy raised awareness of the need to end ALL RECORDS-CLOSED adoptions. A Good Thing. My original piece seems not to be available for free from Newsday, where it was originally published, but here is a thoughtful look at the whole situation that includes some of what I wrote by an adoptee writing in the UK.

Wednesday evening update: Here's what the NY Times says about the program.


  1. Another white trash reality show...sure hope this one sinks fast! Makes me even more glad I have never watched any "reality" TV. Give me fiction, nature shows, and cartoons any day. Nobody with the least bit of self-respect would go on one of these shows.

  2. Only the trashy MTV would produce something like this after all who watches, but teens.

    Educating, the young teens, I think they are just exploiting a situation that we know has been exploited over and over by churches, social workers, lawyers, drs. and anyone else who has made a buck off of young woman and her pregnancy.

    Our society is so screwed up, and has been for years its the almighty dollar and how much money they can make off of someone's teen pregnancy. EXPLOITATION!!!

  3. You know I haven't commented lately and that is because I have been going through my own situation at home. My daughter came to me 3 months ago on her 17th birthday and told me she was pregnant. Full Circle I suppose. As hard as it is, and truly, as ready as she is NOT, to have a child, we are pulling together to ensure another child isn't lost to adoption. I get it, all the situations I saw in the trailer I have lived in my home over the past few months. The school problems, the father running and leaving my daughter to deal with this alone, all in my home. I would never invite TV cameras to record this UNLESS it was to make the statement, even though my daughter is not ready to be a mom, that IS a temporary problem. With family support, parenting classes, the ability to continue school, she will be. It is hard, hard, hard right now, but I lost my daughter to adoption, I WILL NOT lose my grand daughter too.
    Big Hugs to all!

  4. Oh, I just wanted to comment on a personal note, Lorraine, I have read where you have talked about the loss of your grandchild to adoption and my heart goes out to you. Although my situation is different as it is my daughter at home that's pregnant and not the daughter I lost to adoption, I can understand how painful Jane's decision must have been. I've actually been thinking alot about you during these past few months. Big Hugs,

  5. Oh Kristy, thanks so much for your thoughts, especially during what has to be a difficult time for you.

    In our little town I was aware of a girl (daughter of a store owner where I shopped) who got pregnant in high school and the family (single mother) managed to keep the child. I was so happy for them, that somehow they kept it together for the child. All our good wishes and thoughts go out to you.

  6. Kristy, good luck with your daughter and grandchild, I hope it all works out well. It sounds like you are doing all the right things.

  7. I was watching an episode of SVU and the protagonist was an alcoholic & she was pregnant. She had previously had and relinquished a child, who unbeknownst to her was suffering from FAS.
    By the end of the show, when she went to meet her daughter I was in tears.
    Damn Hollywood for making everything so neat...not a loose end to be found.
    Hollywood is a terrible master.

    And the real tragedy is that people buy into it. Life has questions, some of which cannot be answered in an hour or even a lifetime.

    But children, unprepared for life in any meaningful way - have real life thrust upon them, so to speak.
    There is more exposure to the smiling side of sex on television and the internet, but very little in the way of responsible discussion of the consequences.



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