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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Reality TV

I thought I had written a post about my ABC Family TV addiction. Turns out that I started to write one and never published it. I wrote about it being my guilt pleasure here.  But I also have a fondness for MTV's Teen Mom as well. 

If you aren't familiar with the show, its a reality show that follows teens who have gotten pregnant and their journey to parenthood. The girls were on a show called 16 and pregnant and then 4 were picked to be on Teen Mom that followed them after the pregnancy for a longer period of time. I thought the show did a good job of highlighting the challenges that the moms faced navigating school, relationships. finances, etc. 

One couple, Catelynn and Tyler placed their baby for adoption against their family's wishes. Catelynn and Tyler's story was heart breaking.  It was clear from the show that they came from a family that had a lot of trauma and they insisted that the best choice for their daughter was adoption.  I was awed by the maturity in their decision.

The moms are now back on MTV sharing their current lives with the cameras. Tyler and Catelynn have bought a house, are planning a wedding and are expecting again.  Their storyline follows them as they prepare for a baby after placing a child for adoption and navigate the semi-open adoption relationship with their daughter's adoptive parents.

SPOILER ALERT: This weeks episode was the meeting between the two sets of parents and boy did it hit home for me.  The adoptive Mom, Theresa talked about the grief and loss in adoption. The loss of their fertility, the grief of taking another woman's child. The fear of rejection for never being the birth mother.  Catelynn and Tyler talked about the fear of having the openness taken away and the fear of rejection of not being the parents that raised her. Then in an absolute moment of amazingness, Theresa gave Catelynn some of their daughter's mementos: a baby doll and an outfit she wore.

I was crying my eyes out. Its not often we get to see the honesty on TV about both sides of adoption and I'm really pleased to see it portrayed in such an honest way.  It gave me some things to think about as I prepare to have a similar conversation with the birth parents of my children. It was good for me to be reminded about the birth parent perspective. I always try to be kind and thoughtful when with the birth parents, but sometimes that is hard to do when you are faced with the harm that came to the children.  The termination of parental rights process is all about that.  The odd part about this time, is that I've not rooted for Sheila to fail. 

If I'm being really honest, I had rooted for Maria to fail at times. I'm ashamed by this now.  Especially since I now consider her a friend.  But its true.  With Sheila, I never rooted against her but we also knew from the beginning that a complete turn around wasn't likely. (I may have wished that the process could be sped up in either direction just because I think kids stuck in foster care is a travesty.) But I am terrified of the grief coming our way and that played out on my television tonight.

I will do everything in my power to get them the tools they need to handle the grief.  I will give them space to process it.  But I can't stop it or magically make it better. I can't stop by own grief that these beautiful children were dealt a craptastick hand in life for which they will probably deal with well into adulthood, if not longer.  I can't prevent the inevitable grief they will feel over their new sibling or the ones they hardly mention.

Some will say that I signed up for this when I became a foster parent, that this is what I get.  I have some choice words for those folks.

Let me tell you, no one signs up for the grief.  You sign up to help kids. You sign up because you have this crazy notion that you can make a difference for kids who certainly didn't ask for this to be their life.  And by the time you discover that this is the road less traveled for a reason, you are already hopelessly in love with children who need people who are willing to roll up their sleeves.  Just because I "signed up for foster parenting" doesn't mean I can't talk about the challenges it presents.  Would you tell someone who was in a horrific car accident caused by someone else "well that's what you get for driving". Um no you wouldn't. And if you did, that makes you a total jerk.


1 comment:

  1. I really, really love that last paragraph! I've never had anyone tell me it's what I "asked for". But sometimes I try to shoo away feelings I'm having simply because I *did* ask for this life. (And I've been doing it long enough to know what comes with the territory.)

    But you're very right. I didn't ask for the grief. And this road less traveled sure does present a lot of challenges.

    I never thought I'd have to be in a position to personally, in my heart anyway, have to forgive the kind of people I've had to forgive. (That's my own personal challenge right now. Dealing with the fact that I know I need to forgive the abusers and not really wanting to at all but knowing I have to in order to keep dealing with all of this.)

    God bless you for "signing up" for THIS!