' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: How does a baby feel about being a "gift"?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

How does a baby feel about being a "gift"?

Lorraine and her daughter, 1982
Catelynn and Tyler continue on as stars of TV trash...or "America's sweethearts." After their star turn on Sixteen and Pregnant in which they give the "gift" of their baby to an infertile but stable and older couple in a "semi-open" adoption, they went on to be featured in Teen Mom. We saw her in labor, heard her express dismay that the adoption was not more "open," heard about the house they bought, Catelynn's weight gain and Catelynn's weight loss, their shilling for Bethany Adoption Services and promoting adoption at high schools and colleges around the country, and now--weeks away from their July 15 wedding, they are in another reality TV series, Couples Therapy on VH1.

Well, last night in the opening moments of the show Catelynn and Tyler came smack up against some hard reality from one of the other people on this show, Flava Flav, whose own really tacky reality show seemed to be about him finding a girlfriend. Now here he is with his own real life girlfriend, the mother of his son, who has been there all the time. What happened when Flava Flav and Catelynn and Tyler meet is priceless. He wonders why they could be in couple therapy--they are young and in love, right?

When they tell him who they are--Catelynn says they "chose adoption" for their baby--he is shocked. They list the reasons why, starting with alcoholism in her family. Then Tyler quickly reels off a laundry list of reasons: No diploma, no licence, no car, his dad is a crack-cocaine user and in and out of prison, they were sixteen, they wanted a better environment for their baby. So, they gave the baby away--a "gift" to an infertile couple, they quickly add. (How do we hate this concept of a gift? Let me count the reasons...)

Flava Flav is not impressed: "You took a gift away from that child because the best gift you could give the child is to have that child have both of his parents."

Catelynn says: "I agree with you." She nervously chews the inside of her cheek. My heart went out to her. No matter how we feel about their running around promoting adoption--you used to be able to buy a video of them talking about the great decision they made to "chose adoption,"--she is still a birth mother, a sister in sorrow. Bringing a baby home without family support and financial aide would have been difficult. Even though (as I recall reading) Catelynn's mother was against the adoption, it is obvious it would have been difficult for them to cope with a baby in those conditions. However, we do know their lives are certainly changed because they became the dramatic center of the show once they chose adoption, and thus were thrust into the realm of Reality TV stars. They are obviously paid for their work in reality TV (they bought a nice house) and almost certainly as Bethany spokespersons promoting adoption to other young couples and teens. Despite my regret and disgust that they have been turned into adoption promoters, Catelynn genuinely seems sweet, and struggling with the reality of having given up a child. About Tyler, I don't feel so empathetic. He is too self-righteous about having given the gift of his daughter to another couple. He is too eager to promote adoption, as we have written about here before.

Flava Flav responds: "So you all gave away, you took away something more precious than you gave."  

His girlfriend steps in to provide a kind of buffer between what he is saying and Catelynn and Tyler. He says that while he respects what they did, he then adds: "In the same token it doesn't change the feelings of that baby, of what that baby is going to feel."

Well said, Flava Flav. We have nothing to add.--lorraine

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  1. I cheered when I saw this interaction! Flavor Flav was saying nothing but the truth and he was actually looking at things from the childs point of view, not the parents. It seems too few people outside of the adoption world have that mindset.

    While it's disappointing that Catelynn and Tyler are the poster childs for Bethany, I don't really blame them much. Bethany got to them early in Catelynn's pregnancy and have been working hard on "counseling" them ever since. Of course they get special treatment too since they are on TV. Do you thing a regular Bethany "birthmom" gets private & regular "counseling" sessions in their home up to 3 years after the adoption? Hell no. Catelynn and Tyler do. They don't even have a hope of seeing the truth of adoption and their agency anytime soon when they have their counselor on speed dial to feed them false consolation based on the mandate of an unethical agency. Remember when Tyler gave his two cents here? It was nothing but regurgitated "info" that we've seen fed to them time and time again from BCS on their show.

    Also Tyler's father was not against the adoption at all. Both Tyler's dad and Catelynn's mother (who are married) were very aggressively against it. This is demonstrated clearly in their episode of 16 & P. The adoption papers had to be signed in a parking lot off hospital grounds because of some legal technicality. Their parents refused to sign any papers in the hospital so to get around it they did it off hospital grounds. While Cate was still pregnant, her mother even brought home a bassinet and some other baby items late in her pregnancy to try and keep the baby home. I also got an email from Tyler's father yesterday and he was saying he still isn't happy about it and didn't want it to happen and strongly believes his grand daughter should have stayed in the family. I felt bad for him for not having much control in that decision. The pleas of family members are faint in comparison to the powerful coercion of adoption "counseling". This is something you also see a lot in the show "I'm having their baby".

  2. I do not judge my mother's "decision" to give me up for adoption. I will not judge Catelynn's decision either.

    Being seen as a gift is what rubs me the wrong way. The reason I applaud Flava Flav is that he brought these parents back down to Earth and told them the hard truth. Adoption is not a gift. It MIGHT be a necessity, but it is not a gift. It is a sorrowful, ongoing event.

    I was robbed of my mother, my father, my extended family, my heritage....

    I never want to hear my mother say to me that she gave a gift to an infertile couple. I am my mother's blood. My adoptive parents are strangers to her. I hope that she didn't want to gift her blood to an infertile couple.

    Using language like "gift" tends to elevate the relinquishing biological parents to selfless martyrs.

    Giving up a child must be heart wrenching. It might have been the best decision for Catelynn and Tyler and their baby, but it is a loss to be grieved. It is not a gift.

  3. YES..... I am not into the bs, but this is real. Who want to be a gift?

  4. I agree with Flavor Flav. But I have been thinking of my children as gifts from God for years. My own kids from my body. I think lots of people do.

  5. We might have one attitude about Flava Flav's comments, but others don't agree. I just picked this up from "Cafe Mom":

    "Tyler, at least, seems to have taken Flav's criticism with a grain of salt. Sadly, it seems he and Catelynn have had to get used to people reacting like that to the news that they chose adoption for their daughter. They go right into defense mode, and they let a lot of it slide off their backs.

    I can't help wondering if Flav would have been singing a different tune if he'd actually watched Teen Mom and seen Cate and Ty struggle with their decision ... and watched them struggle at home. It was made clear on the MTV show that adoption wasn't something they chose on a whim. They did a service for themselves on Teen Mom and for who knows how many other bio moms and dads, and it's good to see that they're keeping themselves out there to keep talking about this.

    Because attitudes like Flav's are completely unfair to the biological parents out there who are just trying to do the best they can for their kids."

    Notice she doesn't address that the child might grow up into an adult who will be happy to have nice things and a stable home, but not the first parents, the natural parents Carly will be like and look like.

  6. It's funny, Flav is not a guy I would admire, but I do admire his comments and attitude, and he is so certain. I did not watch teen mom...couldn't. But that baby had no choice to be on tv and have his or her life paraded around for the world to see...

    My thoughts initially in watching the clip was "wow, have those two been brainwashed by some adoption agency." I am not particularly fond of Bethany for so many reasons, and I was not adopted with Bethany.

    They seem so sure of what they say, and they have to say it to get through it I would guess. They were told what they could not do and why and so that is what they chose.

    As far as being a "gift", I have really been a possession of my parents much like the paintings that have adorned their walls. My parents wanted a baby and would have taken any baby. I should actually say that my mom wanted a baby and my dad got one for her.

    I have pressed through a lot of anger in my 40's and am heading to forgiveness not because I think my adoptive parents deserve it but because I do. My mother who gave birth to me was a smart 21-year old,and if anyone had wanted to step forward to help her then I believe she could have been successful...she had the strong desire to do so.

    I have compassion for both Catelynn and Tyler...they were kids taken advantage of by adults. And that poor baby....she will get to a certain age and figure it all out and it will all break her heart....Lee H.

  7. Are my children a gift? YES! Every day. Every day I look at them and thank every star I've ever wished on that I have the pleasure of watching them grow.

    I adopted three children domestically all of them with "special needs". All of them had a "natural" mother out there who tossed them like trash. My eldest is 13. She was abandoned at the hospital because she was born with 6 toes on one foot and a cleft lip. The note that her "mother" left said she didn't want to be burdened by a "cripple". My 2nd was born with a correctable heart condition and a serious addiction to meth. He was left in "cradle care" for 6 months as his mother partied it up. She's now dead of an OD, but before she died, I contacted her and she told me that she didn't have time to deal with a "spaz". My 3rd was born with some hearing loss and eye problems. Do you know what his "mother" told me? That she'd rather die than parent him because she didn't want to parent a "broken" child. She is now living the good life on 5th Ave with her wealthy parents and her butler.

    You can talk all you want of a mother's "natural" love her child and the bond that is instantly there. The hard truth is that some women don't feel that bond, and will gladly make that child someone elses. My children are a gift, and it's the "natural" mothers who have lost out.

    Oh, and who am I to speak with authority on this (as adoptive parents are treated like pariahs here)? I'm an adoptee. My own "natural" mother abandoned me because of a large birth mark on my forehead. When I later found her, she told me it was the mark of the Devil and she wished that I had never been born. My "natural" father? He told me that I held all of the family's sins inside of me, and it was okay to give me away because of it. Lovely people, don't you agree? Thankfully, my adoptive parents saw me as a gift and loved me with a fierceness and loyalty that still takes my breath away. I'm glad I was a gift to someone!

  8. I don't think it helps the cause when we embrace people who don't actually want what's best for mothers and children. It seems to me, given Flava Flav's history of impregnating women and then moving on to the next depository, that his sense of entitlement about natural parenthood is totally misplaced. At least in his case. Under the circumstances, he had no right to offer his opinion, not once but twice, to the surrendering parents. Actually, I don't think that any opinions after the fact really do much. It's like telling someone they should not have divorced.

  9. Gabi,

    I think it is wonderful that YOU view your children as gifts. I think all parents should view their children that way.

    I do NOT think that biological parents should view adoption as a gift to an adoptive family. In other words, I don't want my biological parents to view me as a present that they gave. I want them to realize that while it MAY have been in everyone's best interest, it was still a loss and should not be celebrated by my biological family as a present to another couple.

    There is a big difference between parents who see their children as gifts to themselves versus parent who view adoption as a gift to another couple.

  10. YES.

    "There is a big difference between parents who see their children as gifts to themselves versus parent who view adoption as a gift to another couple."

    Yes,that is the difference, and it is huge. Thanks HDW. That addresses both the issue of agencies who spout this idea to birth parents, and people like Gabi who did take children in deep need and sees them as a gift to her life.

    What is worrisome and off putting is that Catelynn and Tyler are go to various schools and talk about their experience, thus encouraging others in the same position to do so:

    From a Teen Mom website: "Cate and Ty recently took a trip to St. Cloud, Minnesota to talk to students at the university about their story through the adoption journey of daughter Carly, which we as viewers, witnessed on 16 and Pregnant. While there, they answered some long awaited questions about their daughter!"

  11. @Gabi

    don't take the comments on this site about adoption to heart. They do not apply to you and your type of adoption situations. You have adopted children that truly need homes and have put them first. It seems these mothers were truly not interested in having their children and you stepped up. This is the type of adoption that is to be celebrated and is truly necessary. Most of us on this site don't approve of UNnecessary adoptions which is sadly the norm in America these days, and is the type of adoption in Catelynn & Tyler's situation in the article. Yours is not that.

    Thank you for setting a good example.

  12. I don't understand why their choice has to be an all or nothing thing. They have never said that their choice was easy but isn't it possible that they truly felt it was the right thing for Carly given their circumstances? Like many things in life, often the right choice (for them, not for everyone) is the hardest and most life long painful thing ever. There are MANY first moms who are in extreme pain over the choice they made to place their children and will be for their whole life, but they still feel they made the right choice. My first mom carries a lot of guilt and sadness over my adoption but 32 years later, maintains that she made the right choice no matter how terrible it's been for her. I agree with her. Given the circumstances I was born under, she did what she felt was necessary to give me a chance at a good life (notice I didn't say guarantee, as nothing in life is guaranteed). I think Catelynn and Tyler struggle with their decision because its completely natural to grieve and long for your child however, they feel like the sacrifice was worth it for their child. Adoption is not and never will be black and white....sadness, grief, and regret still easily go hand in hand with decisions we make that we KNOW are right. Some first moms, mine included, feel that the sacrifice they made out of love for their child was well worth the pain they have had to endure.
    And no....children are NOT gifts!

  13. @Gabi - I agree with you and your kids are lucky to have you in their lives. When I lost my child to adoption (I was a teen in the late 60's with no support), my heart was broken and mind was haunted. Shortly after losing her, I began searching with very limited skills and tools. Finally, after 15 years I found her in 1985 and felt like I got a "gift." As a matter of fact, her brother, who was 10 at the time, excitedly said, "This is better than winning the lottery."

    @anon - I simply don't have the compassion and understanding you have due to the fact that Carly and Tyler are profiting from their decision AND encouraging others. Now if they donated their profit to prevent other teens from having to lose their children to adoption, I might feel differently. I wouldn't be surprised if the daughter someday when she grown, feels as though she was "sold."

  14. Tyler is simply regurgitating the pap the he's been fed by Bethany. For a first parent to describe his surrendered child as a gift to another couple is all wrong and I hope for his kid's sake that some day he'll come to realize it.

    But does anyone REALLY think misogynistic old millionaire rappers who've fathered seven children by three different women, lost custody of three, neglected to pay child support until forced to do so, have numerous past convictions and are coming to trial later this year for assault and child endangerment, have the right to pontificate on Catelynn and Tyler's situation? It's not as if Flavor Flav is any kind of "gift" as a daddy himself.

    "She got a big table ass for real . . . you can have a picnic on her ass for real!"
    'Nuf said.

  15. To Anonymous @ 9:18 AM:

    "The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes." - Sir Winston Churchill

    This is one of Flava Flav's moments.

  16. Yo! You folks know way more about Flava Flav than I do.

    Assuming all that is stated here is true, certainly he is not a good role model. But on Couples Therapy he is confronted with two healthy-looking kids who are young but are not addicts, and he wonders why they made a "gift" of their baby to someone else. The African-American adverse reaction to this "gifting" of babies probably is rooted in the slave experience, when young children were routinely taken from their mothers and sold to distant plantation owners, and he was just speaking from the gut. The desire for family chopped apart by slavery and the deep need to reconnect after emancipation with members of you own family, your own blood, is beautifully and poignantly told in a book we reviewed here, Help Me to Find my People.

    Broken Bonds: The undeniable connection between slavery and adoption

    Flava Flav may be reprehensible on many levels, but he spoke deep truth: The greatest gift you can give a child is to have that child raised by his own parents.

  17. @ Lorraine
    " The greatest gift you can give to a child is to have that child raised by his own parents"
    Couldn't agree more. In a loving, non-abusive environment.

  18. Fools may get it right now and then, but this guy didn't get it right. He feels no obligation to raise his children or be involved with them. That is why I don't think his two cents help. In fact, they hinder.

    From an article about Flav's new reality show:

    "Throughout the series, Flavor of Love is rife with male dominated scenarios. When Flavor Flav is asked what he wants in a woman, he explains that he wants a woman who will watch his kids while he is out partying, clean up around the house while he is on tour, and sexually please him even if he fails to sexually please her."

    1. Hmmm. Reminds me of the one discordant tune on one of my favorite albums, "Harvest," by Neil Young. Whenever it gets to "A Man Needs a Maid," I skip over it:

      "I was thinking I need a maid...
      Just someone to keep my house clean,
      Cook my meals, and go away,
      A [wailing] ma-a-a-an, a man needs a maid..."

  19. I think this has changed a lot since then,but in 1968 when my son was born the idea of "gift" in the slanted counseling I got was not to the prospective adoptive parents, but to the child, of a better life, more fit parents, more opportunity, not being called a bastard. The gift to my child and my "sacrifice" was freeing him from unfit me. Very sad and turned out not to be true in my case. I was not perfect but the mother he actually got turned out to be much worse.

    In recent times there is much more emphasis on owing the prospective adoptive parents a child, especially now when they often are "selected" by the pregnant mother and meet. This creates its own kind of pressure and coercion. But this was not always the case. The fantasy adoptive parents were supposed to be there to save my child and be a gift to him, not the other way around.

    I can well imagine adoptees hating being considered "a gift". My son was never a gift in any sense to anyone but me, which he will always be. His coming back to me was a gift beyond measure.

    As to Mr.Flava Flav, he sounds like a woman-hating scum and no "gift" as a father to any of his numerous kids. One adoptee referred to his very promiscuous bio father as "The Roving Inseminator". I think that label fits here too.

  20. I'm devastated by the Supreme Court's decision on baby Veronica today. I don't get it, honestly.

  21. One person who might be able right now to shed some light on how it feels to be a "gift" would be Paris Jackson!

  22. Gabi: "You can talk all you want of a mother's 'natural' love her child and the bond that is instantly there. The hard truth is that some women don't feel that bond, and will gladly make that child someone elses. My children are a gift, and it's the 'natural' mothers who have lost out."

    Gabi? "Natural" is a synonym for "biological." The brain is a bodily organ, a biological construct. Whatever thoughts you think, whatever emotions you experience all come to you from nature, from biology. (Even if there is such a thing as a soul, even if you believe in a certain interpretation of God, the fact remains that physical beings are biological in nature, and the soul must be at least partially biological as well. And having a soul doesn't seem to protect brain injury survivors from their personalities changing, sometimes irreversibly.)

    So it would seem to me that, given how all the mothers of the children you are parenting seem to have been drug addicts, they were in UNNATURAL situations. Human bodies don't naturally produce things like meth and cocaine. These substances must be introduced. Also, cultural beliefs about sin and devils are introduced; they don't occur naturally. People have to be introduced to these ideas.

    You haven't disproven anything said in this article; your experiences do not negate the fact that it is NATURAL for mothers in particular to feel love for their children and to want to parent them. All you've done is prove what UNNATURAL situations can do to the psyches of parents when it comes to their inborn parenting inclinations.

    (Put another way, the fact that there are blind people in this world DOES NOT mean it is not NATURAL for human beings to be able to see.)

    And situations like yours are what adoption's made for, or at least permanent foster care, at any rate. But Catelynn and Tyler WERE NOT facing your particular situation nor the situations of the children you adopted.

    But thanks for playing. And if I were you, I'd consider going into counseling and dealing with your anger before you say something to these kids about their original parents that you will regret later.

  23. They are so young.



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