' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Inconsolable grief

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Inconsolable grief

“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.
‘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).”
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.

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.


  1. Those are the kind of parents that a baby deserves, it's a shame people don't see that. A baby doesn't need a pool and a pony. They could go to college later or work it out. The system in America doesn't really make being a low income parent very attractive but it's still better than in other countries.

    What would it have been like if there hadn't been a social worker pushing the idea that adoption is wonderful. What if they hadn't been influenced by the begging letters or begging videos made by people wanting a baby.

    You are the best person for your baby not some stranger who can't have a child.

    What we need to focus on is how to make it work for us not cave in to pressure and give our babies away. Awful.

    Really awful thing to ask someone to do. Awful horrid thing to experience. Adoption is something you have to live with forever.

  2. I wrote about this article too even though I have yet to read it. I was 'reacting' - as an adoptee - to the photos I was seeing and some of the quoted comments. I just hope they will be prepared for how their daughter MAY view all of this one day... it may not be all roses like they try to convince themselves and everyone around them that it will be.

  3. What a great, albeit heartwrenching, description of the predicament Tyler and Catelynn are trapped in. They are clearly miserable yet feel compelled to tell the world how happy they are about losing their child. And that phony Dr. Drew, whom I have lost all respect for, sings their praises as if their decision to give up Carly is actually more "loving" than the other moms who are loving their children every day while raising them. Total cognitive dissonance all sides of the equation.

    And the next time they say how AMAZING the APs are, why doesn't someone ask them what is so amazing about them? Is it amazing that they won't reveal their last name, address, or even what state they live in? Is is amazing that they have to go through the agency to give their daughter a present and then cross their fingers and hope she eventually gets it? Is it amazing that Carly will call Teresa "Mom" and Catelynn will be reduced to "birthmom?" I am certainly amazed.

  4. BTW, season two of "Life Unexpected" premiered this week.

  5. This whole story breaks my heart. What are Catelynn & Tyler going to think when they are older & wiser and see how they were exploited? What is this poor little girl going to think when she grows up and sees this? How is it going to effect Catelynn & Tyler when they have to face the fact that they were used to promote adoption. They will have to live knowing that they not only lost their daughter, but other parents did also, in part because they promoted adoption.

    There are so many things wrong with this entire story. How can people not see the deep grief & regret that is only felt by the couple that chose adoption, not the couples parenting their children? How can they see that and still promote adoption?

  6. I think using a young couple to promote adoption is sick. Can this couple really express what is really on their minds? Why is their story being told in front of millions. I think it's just plain sick. How could they have changed their minds if they wanted to. How are they such great adoptive couple if they won't even share their last names? They gave their daughter and trusted them but no trust back. And poor Carly, where is her privacy. How long will she grow up being the poster child for an adoption. How will she feel that this was all done on tv?

  7. I am a reunited firstmom. After years of longing to see my son and not being able to 'live in the here and now' it has become a habit,even now after I have found him. This strange way of thinking and feeling(worrying and imagining where he is and seeing him in every age-appropriate child or man) made it very difficult to do ordinary things like work or relate to people. Recently, a woman I know at work told me that her daughter (18) was pregnant and she was going to help her keep her baby because 'she'll never get over it' if she gives her up for adoption.How true. Maybe things have changed but there's still a very long way to go. I couldn't have been happier when I found my son-what a trip!

  8. Agreeing with "Birthmother talks", making personal lives, including the life of the child who did not consent to any of it a TV show is plain disgusting. "Reality" shows are not real; they are by nature exploitive of the stupidity, greed, and hunger for fame of some people. When they involve those not even legally adult, like this couple, they border on abuse.

    The way to make this crap go away is do not watch it. If it stops selling soap, it goes away. Ignore it. It is too late for the dumb kids who signed on for it, and really too bad for their surrendered kid.

  9. I think all of we Adoptees just might as well of been born mute. All forms of goodness know we are continualy treated as such. All I could think about when I saw the cover of this magazine was what is this poor child/teen/adult going to think when she comes across this explotation of her life? And why the hell don't her Natural Parents think for one second, how rejected she is going to feel when she reads this article years from now. I am an Adopted. I am an Adoptee. And no one on this planet understands an Adoptees feelings BUT an Adoptee. And I understand what this Adoptee is going to be wondering someday...if you really loved me you would of kept me, especially since you wanted to marry and have my sisters and brothers. I feel rejected by my Grandparents too, because they could of helped you raise me and take care of me as I am a member of two famillies, who could of at least tried to make my arrival work. I am not disposal like an old toy and all the love in the world from my Adoptive Parents will NEVER make up for you not breaking your back like parents are supposed too to spare me the pain of feeling rejected....
    Today's young people who have no experiance with Adoption and the feelings of Adoptees need to start thinking from OUR point of view....

  10. Arg! I missed the first episode of Life Unexpected because as you may remember from last season I am a great fan because the show gets it right!

    Stories like this one of Tyler and Catelynn from People magazine make me ill. Why in the f@#& are they having to go through the agency? They will be sorry for the rest of their lives that they gave their daughter up. And she will be conflicted.

  11. Catelynn and Tyler are a tragedy, for more reasons than just their daughter.

    Do any of you actually watch the show or are you just reading the article? Personally, I think Catelynn needs to be adopted by a loving family..she is living with abusive drug addicts. Without any outside support, no wonder she felt adoption was her only choice.

    It's a shame Tyler's mother (who seems to be the ONLY stable adult in their lives) didn't step up to help them.

    Sad sad. Exploited for sure!

  12. Imagine this...

    A poor, teenaged girl in a very religious community (think: Islam), engaged to be married (through an arrangement with their parents), never having met her husband-to-be, finds herself pregnant. Her parents are shamed, her husband-to-be and his family is shamed, the community whisphers and points and even shuns. And, lest we forget, she's POOR. What a terrible mother she'll make - she's not ready, she's too young, she has no money, she may not get married...

    Thankfully, adoption wasn't an option then, or Mary may never have known she was the mother of God.

  13. Also, to Lisa in WV, I understand your sentiment and agree with all but the wording (I watch the show!) - Catelyn needs to have a legal guardian who is someone other than her parents.

    I don't believe that mothers should ever lose their full rights to their children, but some parents need to lose guardianship for a variety of reasons, and sometimes that can last for the entire childhood of the child.

  14. @Lisa:
    So why is Adoption the answer? Why couldn't the baby stay with her supportive family member, her parents legally forced into rehab and the appropiate grow up, get off your ass and take care of your kid speech be drummed into their heads? Why should an innocent like Carly have to be punished by having her idenity messed with along with being exploited and feeling rejected? These two parents could very well get their act together which is the BIGGEST jesture of love they could of ever shown their child. A much bigger jesture than giving her to strangers who have already made it obvious they don't want her to even know her own flesh and blood, whic we all know will screw her up in the long run.

  15. I avoid shows like Teen Mom — actually Life Unexpected as well, even though I've heard it's worth watching. Too many adoption reminders in my life already. Like yesterday in the grocery store when I saw the cover of People. Thanks for sharing what was inside, Jane. Indeed, so tragic, and sickening how this young couple is being used to promote adoption.

  16. I'm sorry, my wording was poor. I agree with all of you. I think the odds were so stacked against Catelynn and Tyler (as they were with my mom) that they truly felt like they had no choice. That makes me incredibly sad for all of them. That's why I said that I wished Tyler's mom (the only good one of the bunch!) had stepped up to help them.

    (Catelynn and Tyler aren't the drug abusive drug addicts....it's Catelynn's mom and step-dad whom Catelynn lives with)

  17. (Catelynn and Tyler aren't the drug abusive drug addicts....it's Catelynn's mom and step-dad whom Catelynn lives with)

    Exactly! All they needed was a better place to live. They seem very mature and would have been find parents. It saddens me that they saw no other options.

  18. Definition of insanity: "Doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result"
    Well this is just more of the same . .just the latest greatest version of it. The difference here is MAYBE the suffering will play out in front of the worlds eye and be exposed for what it really is . . nonsense, cruel, criminal, . . this is NOT God's will. So sad.

  19. Honestly, How can we the people be so stupid? How can this keep happening? It makes me think of how Hitler convinced people to do the things they did? Sounds extreme but how? . . how? Doesn't anyone think for themself? As victims of this adoption mess we learned how to think for ourself b/c we know what it's like to be brainwashed. Is that it? Sometimes I think PERHAPS I'm a bit paranoid but NO I'm just not a mush brain. This is so aweful!

  20. I have been following Catelynn and Tyler's story on Teen Mom and they are the sweetest, most sensible, mature young couple who would have been wonderful parents. I regret that I can no longer watch the series because it is too gut wrenching to view the mental and verbal abuse that Catelynn endures from her very dysfunctional mom. I cannot believe that woman belittles and treats Catelynn so terribly on national tv and has not been arrested and jailed. Poor little sweet Catelynn does not deserve that. She is a wonderful daughter and how dare her mom hold it against her for giving Carly up for adoption. Carly is a better mother than that woman will ever be. I wish Catelynn had a place to go live where she would receive the love and support she deserves. What a wonderful couple...Tyler and Catelynn, you are loved by America. Just remember that and don't believe for a second that you deserve the crap your mom dishes. She needs serious help.

  21. I agree with both
    September 28, 2010 8:24 PM
    Lisa in WV
    September 17, 2010 11:37 AM
    Catelyn and Tyler are incredibly thoughtful, sensitive young people. I don't think their show was about "selling" adoption. It was originally one, single episode. I watched that one epidode at least a dozen times and cried for them and for myself, everytime.

  22. I am so happy to have found this blog. Everything else I have read has been so positive about Catelynn & Tyler giving Carly up for adoption. T & C seem like two naive teenagers (which they are). How do they know that Carly will be so happy to reunite with them in 17 years? What about the terrible emotional pain she will suffer from having been given away? Especially if they later have children that they keep. I, too, find it very unfair that Carly has been made the poster child for adoption when she has no say in the matter.This is one of the hardest things for the adoptee, the fact that he or she NEVER has any say in the matter. And this is certainly a one sided deal that the aparents can keep their last name and location secret and that it is solely up to them how much and what kind of contact Catelynn and Tyler can have. I think they will regret giving Carly up for the rest of their lives.

  23. Ok, I realize this is an older post, but did anyone watch the Teen Mom finale on MTV the other night? In case you missed it (like I did) you can watch it at MTV.com.

    Anyhow, Catelynn and Tyler got a chance to actually have a visit with Carly at a park and a restaurant half-way between their two locations.

    It was so so gut-wrenching to watch. One scene showed Carly making a scrunched up nose face and Catelynn immediately said that she did the same thing as a baby. While the a-parents and Tyler sat talking, Catelynn and Carly got lost in their own little world making scrunchy noses at each other. The other very touching scene was when they presented the a-parents with a "talking book" that they had made for Carly, which was basically a storybook that had a recording of their voices reading the words as they turned the pages. It was a book about a child growing up. Ugh, so so sad:(

    At the end, they stood on a sidewalk saying their goodbyes (oh wait, the adoption agency says to call it "see you laters") and Catelynn and Tyler each got a chance to hold Carly. After the a-parents car drove away, Catelynn and Tyler sat on the sidewalk and Tyler said, "that was great that I got to look and feel like a father for a few minutes".

    :( :( :(

    I do think the a-parents love Carly very much, so hopefully they will allow Catelynn and Tyler continue to be a part of their lives.

  24. This is an interesting side of the debate that I have not yet seen. I am wondering, is it the position of those that participate in this blog, that the alternative (to stay with the birth parents) is always best - even if the child is to grow up in a an abusive home and surrounded by drug addiction? This nails my belief in the head, that abstinence is the only lesson that should be taught to children.

  25. Anon,

    Our position on adoption is set out on the side bar on the right hand side. Scroll down and you'll see "What We Think About Adoption." Here's how it begins:

    Are we against all adoptions? No.

    Some are absolutely necessary, and good. There will always be children who, for one sad reason or another, need to find a home and parents, and in many cases, they will not be family members.

    We are against unnecessary adoptions whether domestic or international....

  26. It's impossible not to cry at the grief and bitter sweet regret Caitlyn and Tyler feel at seeing Carly. But seeing the journey of these two really exposes adoption.. both the good and the bad. The rose tinted spectacles are off. It's good for people to see the adoptive process for real. They have sacrificed. For Carly. They live with the pain of choosing a better future for her everyday. I think this would apply whether you are young or older. We would see the same pain and regret following someone who chose abortion. The lives of the other teen moms certainly has pain, regret and disappointments too.
    I commend them, but I also feel so SO sad for them and the life sentence of pain of losing carly and the joy of knowing she is so loved by both her parents.
    They don't get to change their minds even if they wanted to! I want them to find peace with their decision and try not to let it shadow their whole lives. They deserve every happiness for putting Carlys first. There is a big part of me that wishes they weren't missing out on being her parents whatever their situation - but when she is a young adult they will be there to play a bigger part in her life.. including any brothers and sisters. I wish them all the love and happiness in the world. Carly gets a unique insight when she is older to the gigantic struggle her parents went through. It is evident that carly is loved beyond measure by both sets of parents. x Suze

  27. Suze wrote: " but when she is a young adult they will be there to play a bigger part in her life.. including any brothers and sisters."

    I hope so, Suze, but there is certainly no guarantee of this. Believing that they can reunite and go back to being a large part of each other's lives is part of the rose-colored glasses view of adoption, too.

  28. Have you even watched this show? Or are you basing your entire opinion on a People magazine article? We all know the tabloids are a great source of facts!

    If you have watched Catelynn and Tyler's episode of "16 and Pregnant" you would know why they placed Carly for adoption. You would know Catelynn's mother and Tyler's father are emotionally abusive addicts. For hell's sake her mother gets a DUI in the first 5 minutes of the show. Catelynn talks about how she's lived in 19 homes in 18 years. She didn't want her child growing up in that environment. An environment she couldn't escape herself! She's just in high school. And Tyler's father has been in and out of prison Tyler's entire life.

    And if you watched the show you would know that Catelynn and Tyler did have a joyful reunion with Carly, Brandon and Teresa. You would know how much Brandon and Teresa love Catelynn and Tyler. You would have seen that Catelynn and Tyler gave Carly a book where they recorded their voices reading the book to Carly and Teresa was so touched, she burst out in tears. And if you really did watch the show you would have seen the home video Catelynn and Tyler showed at the reunion of them being there for Carly's first steps. Hmm, they didn't seem very sad about that. They didn't seem like they were being kept from Carly's life. They didn't seem like their interactions with Brandon and Teresa were awkward. They seemed as comfortable with them as family.

    How sad you would base your opinion on someone else's life on a tabloid magazine article and from, what?, 8 minutes of highly edited footage of a reality show.

    And furthermore, if you REALLY watched the show you would know that Amber (a hero to you since she chose to parent) has been physically abusive toward Gary. She's selfish and immature and all she does is fight with Gary in front of poor little Leah. Every time I watch her I wish they had been as smart as Catelynn and Tyler since they're clearly not qualified to parent. And the state of Indiana agrees because they seized protective custody of poor Leah after they arrested her abusive mother.

    The only thing "tragic" about this is your interpretation of it.

  29. Marisa,

    Yes I've watched the show. I've recorded segments and watched them several times. I saw the show where Tyler and Catelyn had the reunion with Carly and gave her the book. Tyler and Catelyn's were hearts were breaking. Their lives clearly revolve around contacts with Carly. The live for every minute they can see her or talk to her.

    In every segment, Tyler and Catelyn are so sad. They constantly discuss whether they did the right thing and try to reassure each other. Clearly if they were really comfortable with giving up their daughter, they would not discuss it repeatedly; they would move on.

    I'm aware that Catelyn's and Tyler's home lives were bad. It's a shame someone didn't help them find a way to keep their baby and make their own lives. The only "help" they seem to have been offered was adoption.

    I noted in my post that Amber needed help. It's a shame that some one (perhaps the producers or the show) didn't offer her help; instead it appears that they took advantage of her.

    Tyler and Catelyn would have been excellent parents. They are a loving couple and devoted to each other and their daughter.

  30. The real tragedy of this story is that Catelynn and Tyler felt they HAD to give Carly up for adoption because of the extremely dysfunctional family they came from. If they had had a family like Maci's, adoption would have been the furthest thing from their minds.

    As for Teresa and Brandon, yes they seem to be loving. However, they hold all the cards. They get to dictate what type and how much contact Tyler and Catelynn can have with Carly and they can even cut off all contact if that is what they decide is best.

    Tyler and Catelynn's nonstop crying and constant thinking about Carly doesn't exactly convince me that they are so "happy" about placing her. I agree with Jane that they would have made excellent parents. It is a tragedy that there was no one to help them do that.

    And yes, I watched the show.

  31. I know that adoption is not a positive experience for everybody, but I have two adopted brothers and I love them more than anything in the world. I can't imagtine if they were not a part of my family. They are proud of their adoption and love the family they are in nhow- not some "strangers", but their real family.

  32. That may be true, that they are "proud" of their adoption, if you say so, but that does not mean that they do not have questions and uncertainties where the rest of us have answers, including, perhaps, you.

  33. @Anon 1:51,
    I agree with you that your adopted brothers are full members of the family. Obviously, you have bonded as siblings and it would have been a loss if you had not had them in your life. However, they came to be members of the family based on pain. The first mother probably suffered terribly having to give them up, the Aparents may have had the pain of infertility and your brothers had the pain of being given away and if they are from the closed era not even knowing who their bio-relatives are.

    Also, having adoptive grandparents is very different than having bio-grandparents whose genes one carries. Adoptees do not have ancestry in the sense that they can look back through the generations and see where they came from genetically. They also cannot see in adoptive family members where they got their looks or their interests or talents. This does not mean that adoptees are not real members of the family but it is different.

    As for being strangers this refers to the fact that if a child is born into one family and placed in another non-blood related family, then the child is placed with strangers. Obviously, you all have a close relationship and you are not strangers to one another. But in a non-family placement, the child is usually placed with strangers.

  34. I am a birth mother ....on May 15th my 10 year old son accidently shot himself . My other son is still there with this family who I thought was a grat fit. I was not at the time. 2 short years later , I was an amazing mother . Life is so weird and I am so destroyed by this .....what now?

  35. Tegan,

    I am so sorry to read your comment. I hope you can get some counseling with a counselor knowledgeable about adoption.

    A birthmother support group in your area might be helpful. You may find one on the American Adoption Congress website, www.americanadoptioncongress.org

  36. Are you out of your minds? CLEARLY none of you grew up in a household like the one that child would have had to grow up in. I guess you miss the point that they did it for Carly, not their own happiness. I thought parents were supposed to want the very best for their children. Do you think that Carly would have many opportunities if she were raised by two broke sixteen year olds with mentally unstable parents (one of which is in and out of jail all the time)? No. I honestly think Catelynn and Tyler would be a lot happier if they weren't doing the show; I'm sure the whole thing is a daily reminder of the pregnancy and the adoption. I also think the open adoption arrangement is strange. It seems to make them feel guilty for wanting to move on with their lives; but why shouldn't they? I think that they did the right thing with finding a better home for the child they love. Adoption is certainly better than abortion, don't you think?

  37. Actually, Adoptive Mother pr adoptve something or social worker Lily (Or do I have that wrong?):

    Adoption is better than abortion for whom? Certainly relinquishing a child is not better for the mental health of the women who feel they cannot raise their own children. It screws most of us up for life.

    And as for whether all the Carly's in the world would rather be raised with their natural parents or wealthy adoptive parents, stick around and read more. You're in for a big surprise.

  38. Lily,
    To add to Viktoria's comments, Catelynn and Tyler would be thinking of their daughter every day even if they were not doing the show. If you continue to read this blog, you will learn that mothers who lose their children to adoption don't forget and go on with their lives as though they had nothing more than an appendectomy. They suffer from extended periods of intense grief.

    Open adoption is natural. Closed adoptions were a bizarre social experiment which began less than 100 years ago to appease insecure adoptive parents.

  39. Jane wrote:" Closed adoptions were a bizarre social experiment which began less than 100 years ago to appease insecure adoptive parents."

    Actually I think that was only one of the reasons for closed adoption back in the day. Adoptees are kind of in a witness protection program. Move the child to another location, change his/her identity, seal his records and close all ties to the past. The child is proof positive of the parents sexual relationship whether it was sex outside of marriage or an extramarital affair. By hiding the child the liaison can be hidden as well.



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