Several years ago, Bethany Christian Services appeared on MTV’s wildly popular reality program, 16 and Pregnant. At the time, more than a few eyebrows were raised given the show’s controversial topic and the television network’s history of producing programs conflicting with the agency’s traditional values. Today, we prepare for the debut of another reality show, which also features birthparents and adoptive families who selected Bethany to serve them through counseling and, in some cases, adoption. The Oxygen network introduces I’m Having Their Baby on Monday, July 23.
When we decided to work with MTV, our rationale for participating was that we saw the program as an opportunity to educate a critical demographic – teenagers and young adults – on unplanned pregnancy and how adoption is a viable option for those who are unprepared to care for a child. This is not an easy decision for any birthparent, but many find that it is the right decision for them and their child. At Bethany, we want every birthparent to be well informed on the option to parent; as well as, the option to select adoption – including the different “types” of adoption, such as open adoption, of which Bethany is a strong supporter. Even now, several years later, we still receive comments and conversation about 16 and Pregnant, as millions of viewers have been introduced to the real life adoption story of Catelynn Lowell and Tyler Baltierra, a teenage couple committed to each other and their baby.
Creating an adoption plan is never an easy decision and the show’s producers captured the difficulties Catelynn and Tyler had throughout the process, as well as capturing the critical and invaluable support the couple received from Bethany’s professional counselors. Through Catelynn & Tyler, young women and men around the world caught a glimpse of the adoption process – from the couple’s initial meetings with a counselor to the ongoing relationship they have with their daughter through the open adoption plan they created with the adoptive couple.
As a result of the positive national discussion that resulted from the experience with 16 and Pregnant, Bethany is excited at the potential for another reality TV show to transparently show the real stories and struggles that a birthparent goes through, and to further deconstruct myths surrounding adoption. Starting Monday, July 23 (at 11 p.m.), the Oxygen network will air, I’m Having Their Baby, a deep and emotional six-part docu-series revealing the struggles birthmothers go through when deciding whether or not to place their babies for adoption.
Featuring 12 stories from women in their 20s, I’m Having Their Baby will deconstruct the ongoing stereotype that adoption is only an option for teenagers. In fact, nearly 80 percent of the women Bethany provides services to are older than 20. Additionally, between two and a half to three million single women face unplanned pregnancies each year, but less than one percent chooses adoption. Our hope is that pregnant women considering abortion will see I’m Having Their Baby, take note of how adoption has changed through open adoption and other alternatives over the past several decades, and strongly consider adoption for their baby.
Bethany didn’t know what to expect from 16 and Pregnant, but the love and commitment Catelynn and Tyler exhibited for one another and their baby touched so many lives, thus helping to demonstrate adoption as a positive alternative to women facing unplanned pregnancies. While placing a child for adoption is one of the most private and personal decisions a birthmother will make, I’m glad that six of our birthmothers volunteered to share their story so that other women undecided about adoption can take a behind-the-scenes look at the reality they faced. You can watch the first episode online now, or tune in on Monday evening to watch. I would love to hear your thoughts!
I’m Having Their Baby will air on the Oxygen Network on Mondays at 11 p.m. from July 23 – August 27.