Catelynn & Tyler of MTV’s Teen Mom – A Lesson in Reality

“Bethany was really supportive of me. They helped me answer any questions or any worries that I have, they taught me about grief and how to go through that; just kind of show me that I’m the person who makes my adoption plan. I’m the person that makes it look how I want it to look. They’ve just always been there. I could call them at four o’clock in the morning and they would talk to me and answer my questions.”
-Catelynn, PSA for Bethany Christian Services, April 9, 2014

Just a few short days ago the world looked on as MTV’s Teen Mom stars, Catelynn and Tyler Baltierra, received the news that they would not be getting a yearly visit with the daughter they relinquished to adoption, Carly.  The short video clip shows the Teen Mom stars meeting with their social worker, Dawn Baker, in what looks to be a cafe of sorts, so that she can deliver the bad news. Dawn has worked with the couple as an employee of Bethany Christian Services throughout the duration of Catelynn’s pregnancy, birth, post-birth, post-relinquishment.

In the clip, Dawn has come prepared with a folder of papers to remind Catelynn and Tyler what they agreed upon in their “open adoption contract.” Open adoption contracts are more common, nowadays, than not and usually stipulate what both parties agree to as far as openness after an adoption. However, even in states where open adoption contracts are “legally binding,” these contracts are mostly faith-based and cannot really be enforced. (See more about open adoption contracts here)  It is assumed that all parties will act ethically and hold up their end of the deal.  During part of the clip you get a glimpse at the contract that Catelynn and Tyler signed:

catelynntyler

If you read the paragraph under “communication” you’ll see phrases such as “the first 2 years” or “through the age of 5 years old” and “exchange of these items will take place through Bethany.” Having watched the show you may be wondering why there are age stipulations in this “open” adoption contract.  Surely Catleynn and Tyler have, and always did, want to be a part of Carly’s life for all of her life.

When Catelynn questions why Brandon and Teresa have not answered her texts about a visit, Dawn is quick to remind them what they agreed to in their “contract.”

“I wanna take you guys back to 2009 and I want to show you some things you signed with me. And I made a copy so you guys could have, so… This was the foundation of where you started, yeah you said ‘no’ to ongoing face to face and you could REQUEST visits with the adoptive family in the future to be initiated by Catelynn and Tyler, which is what you’ve been doing, and at the discretion of the adoptive family, as they determine what is in the best interest of Carly…”

Hold the phone.  They said “NO” to ongoing face to face visits? Hmm.  Has anyone watched the show? Can anyone think of any reason that they wouldn’t want to continue to see their daughter? Let me tell you what I think happened here based on my experience.

Catelynn and Tyler are “counseled” by Bethany.  Bethany tells them that the contract they are signing is just a bare bones deal.  They can still see Carly as long as Brendan and Teresa are okay with that, and why wouldn’t they be? As long as your relationship continues the way it has this shouldn’t even be an issue. We’ll just have the contract in writing with the bare minimum.  Yes they could choose to stop ongoing visits but that’s not likely to happen since this is what everyone wants. And, by the way, Bethany suggests that all gifts and letter get filtered through them and that updates three times a year should stop at age 2 and videos of birthdays should stop at age 5 because, ya know, birth parents just kinda start to forget and move on and it shouldn’t be that big of a deal.  Can you taste my sarcasm?

So Catelynn and Tyler agreed to this contract after being counseled by Dawn and Bethany Christian Services. They really did understand that at anytime their visits could be taken away.  Yes, they did.  But they were reassured that wasn’t likely to happen as long as everyone continued this great wonderful relationship that they were promised.  I would also go so far as to assume, because it happened to me, that Catelynn and Tyler didn’t even know they could say “nope, sorry.” Because, ya see, they make you fall “in love” with this adoptive couple.  They make you feel like these are THE people for my child.  If I ask for more they may back out.  And agencies have a great way of making you feel like maybe you WON’T find parents for your baby if you’re too picky.  So they agreed, because asking for any more may mean missing out on this ideal, “perfect” couple for their baby.  And they truly did want what was best for their baby.

Ahh, but Bethany has a history.  They even wrote a book.  It’s called “A Case For Adoption.”

The original description from their website stated:

“This manual is written for those who counsel women experiencing unplanned pregnancies. Its purpose is to show how adoption can be presented as a positive, life-giving choice. 

bethany

Basically, Bethany wrote a manual in 1985 about how to convince women to give their children up for adoption.  And this manual is still being used today.

Where were we? Oh yes.  Dawn presents “legal” documents to remind Catelynn and Tyler that they aren’t fitting into the perfect little birth parent box they were supposed to stay in. When Catelynn expresses frustration that Carly’s adoptive parents would not answer her directly when she asks about a visit Dawn is quick to “counsel” them with this answer:

“If the conversation is kinda shut down about the visit, let’s move on to another converstaion…”

Catelynn again expresses frustration, “I hate not having an answer.”

Dawn, being the great counselor that she is to help them through this difficult time replies with, “I know you do but you’re not getting it right now, you’re not getting an answer right now. I know this is hard you guys.”

Here’s what I heard – I know you don’t like it but tough shit.  You aren’t getting what you want so move the fuck on.  I’m only hear to make Bethany look good.  I’m only here because Brandon and Teresa were too chicken shit to tell you themselves.  I really don’t give a shit about how you feel. I get my paycheck regardless and I have you and all the other hundreds of girls just like you, to thank for that.

That’s what I heard.  Not what she said, but what I heard.

And then my favorite part.  Catelynn’s response.

“No its just fucking frustrating because I was fucking 16 years old when I made these decisions.”  And there it is. Almost like an epiphany.  How can a coup of sixteen year olds be expected to understand the depth and magnitude of what they are doing? How can anyone, really? Unless you’ve lived it you have no idea. Unless you have had the door slammed shut in your face, you DON’T KNOW. You CAN’T know.  You believe everything the counselors tell you.  You believe that you will doom your child to a lifetime of pain and unhappiness.  You believe you aren’t good enough.  And I’m here to tell you, it’s all lies. The people telling you this are the people who profit from your loss.

Bethany Christian Services paid almost 5.5 MILLION dollars in employee salaries and wages in 2014 – the year Catelynn and Tyler recorded that PSA for them. Their total net assets were over 34 MILLION dollars.  Their total liabilities and net assets were almost 45 MILLION dollars. William Blacquere, CEO and President of Bethany Christian Services in 2014 had a salary of $210,812,  Over TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS a year as a salary for being the President of an adoption agency.  A “non profit” one at that.

I’m the person who makes my adoption plan. I’m the person that makes it look how I want it to look.”

“No its just fucking frustrating because I was fucking 16 years old when I made these decisions.”

I really really feel for Catelynn and Tyler.  They are in the public eye which means every misstep is recorded for all to see. Yes, they made a choice to be in the public eye, but there will never be any going back for them in that decision as well.  As far as their views on adoption and how they feel about being denied their yearly visit, well, as all of us first parents know, any vocalization against the adoptive parents of our kids or adoption as an institute puts us at grave risk of being totally cut off from our children – until they are of age to decide for themselves. I can see it in their faces when I watch the show.  The fear. One wrong move and it all crumbles down and how are we supposed to continue living life if that happens?

Tyler seems more outspoken, but he still can’t say what he wants, if he wants.

But Catelynn, Tyler, they do grow up.  They do have minds of their own. And sometimes they do come calling.  And sometimes they’re FUCKING PISSED about what’s happened. I’m learning this first hand.

I don’t care if you smoke pot.  I don’t care if you’re depressed because having another baby made you realize the enormity of what you lost.  I don’t care if you have a beer now and again.  You aren’t unsafe for your daughter to visit once a year.  There is absolutely no excuse for it. None.  You may not be able to say it, but I will. Carly loves you, she’s had a relationship with you, and now it has been, at the least, interrupted.  At the most, ended. How will they explain that to her? How will that hurt her? Has anyone stopped to think about that?

Family preservation. It has been my only life line. It is what helps me heal.  Catelynn, Tyler, please reach out. Even if under an alias. There’s a whole community waiting for you.

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Mary, Did You Know?

While sitting around playing games on my phone the other day, my youngest daughter started to talk about her upcoming choir concert for school. She was excited to perform the songs they had learned and gave me a sneak peek of the upcoming show. When the preview was over she sighed and said, “Do you know what my favorite Christmas song is?” I didn’t so I told her so. She replied, “Mary, Did You Know?”

This surprised me a bit as it really isn’t a traditional Christmas song that a 13 year-old would like so much for it to be her favorite Christmas song.

Because of the upcoming Christmas holiday, I would like to incorporate this song into the message I am giving.

If this is not a song you are familiar with, you can listen to it HERE.

The lyrics (provided by Metro Lyrics) are:

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?

Did you know
that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?

Mary, did you know
that your baby boy will calm the storm with His hand?

Did you know
that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?

Mary did you know.. Mary did you know

The blind will see.
The deaf will hear.
The dead will live again.
The lame will leap.
The dumb will speak
The praises of The Lamb.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?

Did you know
that your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
The sleeping Child you’re holding is the Great, I Am.

I understand that not everyone is a believer, and that’s okay. Since God’s name is invoked so often in the world of adoption, even non-believers would benefit from reading this post.

The historical story of the birth of Jesus Christ gives many clues as to the status of Mary and Joseph, in regards to society and financial means. While it is never stated that they are “poor,” there are a couple of verses that we can use to establish this. Every male that was born at that time had to be consecrated to the Lord. In order for this to happen, Mosiac law said that the mother of every newborn male would have to purchase and sacrifice a young lamb as a burnt offering and a turtle dove as a sin offering. Remember, this was before Jesus Christ had died on the cross making sacrifices like this unnecessary to wash away sin. This particular consecration was to wash away the sin and blood of childbirth.

Families that were too poor to purchase the lamb, were allowed to substitute the sacrifice with two turtle doves  or two young pigeons (Leviticus 12:8). When Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem to consecrate Jesus to the Lord, as the law required, it was with two turtle doves which implies that they were too poor to purchase the young lamb.

Before you point out that the three wise man brought gifts to Jesus of great value, I’ll just point out that there is nothing in the bible suggesting this poor, modest, family kept these gifts. In tradition with the way Jesus led his life, according to the Bible, I would go out on a limb and say it’s unlikely they did and would have been more likely to give these gifts away to those who were in need more than they were.

“It was God’s plan. The baby will have a better life.”

So, if God’s plan is for babies who were born out of wedlock, as Jesus was, to be put with family’s that have more financial means (meaning more opportunities for financial success later in life) then may I ask why Jesus was raised by Mary and Joseph? We’ve already established that they were a poor family and that Jesus was conceived while Mary and Joseph were not married. (I’m not arguing the virgin birth, just the fact that there were two unmarried parents). Did God mess up? Did he put the wrong baby in the wrong womb? Should Jesus have been placed in a more established woman’s womb who was married and able to afford the sacrificial young lamb that Mary could not? If He didn’t mess up, then was the plan for Jesus to be adopted by a wealthier family? No? Why is that? Is it possible that God’s perfect plan (not man’s) was that Jesus be born to and raised by the person who did give birth to him? Of course it was. Everything that followed the birth of Jesus – the miracles He performed, the people He helped, the charity He showed, the sacrifice He made for all of our souls – this was all a direct result of his upbringing. God knew that Mary was the perfect person to be Jesus’ mother. He knew that, with Mary, the prophecy would be fulfilled and it would be done. This poor craftsman, Joseph, and his wife, Mary, would raise Jesus in poverty to be The One who saved mankind from his own sins. It was with purpose, it was with careful planning, that God chose Mary.

In today’s world, Mary would have been encouraged to give Jesus up for adoption to a more financially stable two-parent home that could provide him with a college education (instead of a trade, most likely that of a blue-collar carpenter), fancy clothes (instead of meek cloths), the newest cell phone (instead of, well, I don’t know on that one), and a huge house with a meticulously landscaped yard (instead of a small hut with a desert for the backyard).  In fact, Nazareth, where Jesus was raised, was really on the “bad side” of town. It was one of the poorer communities of those days. Please picture the Savior, Himself, growing up in today’s world of luxuries and opportunities – not in Nazareth. We could call Him, Jesus of Beverly Hills. Think on that a second.

There is a parable in the Bible. It’s Jesus and the Rich Man.

Mark 10:17-31

New Living Translation (NLT)

The Rich Man

17 As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. 19 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’[a]

20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”

21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” 24 This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard[b] to enter the Kingdom of God. 25 In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

26 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.

27 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”

28 Then Peter began to speak up. “We’ve given up everything to follow you,” he said.

29 “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, 30 will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. 31 But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.[c]

  1. 10:19 Exod 20:12-16; Deut 5:16-20.
  2. 10:24 Some manuscripts read very hard for those who trust in riches.
  3. 10:31 Greek But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.

If Jesus had been Jesus of Beverly Hills instead of Jesus of Nazareth, it’s very likely this parable would never exist. The point of this parable is that, according to Jesus, being well-off, financially, really doesn’t mean much except a harder time getting into heaven. Yet, we have “Christians” preaching that adoption is God’s plan because a more “financially stable” family can provide a “better” life for a child. Which is it? It doesn’t go both ways.

Jesus, to me, proves that a life of humility, poverty, and love is the better life, eternally speaking.

Surely we don’t want children in abusive households or in homes where they would be subjected to neglect. This is not what I’m saying. What I am implying is that when financial reasons are the cause for a mother to sacrifice the motherhood to her child, my advice to those wishing to take advantage of her poor financial situation is that they should – “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Mary, did you know? Did you know that your baby boy, the one who would be raised in your small home, with little financial means, no college education, on the wrong side of town, would be the Savior of the world? Did you know that it is because of these things that this prophecy would come to be fulfilled? Did you know that God did not put the wrong baby in the wrong belly, that it was all part of his divine plan? Mary, did you know that, in today’s world, his name would be invoked to cause pain and suffering for mother’s being separated from their children for the very reasons that He chose you to be the mother of the Savior? Mary, do you weep?

You – do you know? Do you know what your child was intended to be? Do you know what the Lord has planned for him or her? Do you dare to question the motives of God? Did He make a mistake? Was your baby intended for another? Why did God not put that baby in the womb of that woman? Did God want you to suffer the loss of your child? No. This is man’s plan, not God’s plan.

Have you ever read the Bible, you who claims that it is God’s plan for you to adopt someone else’s child, at birth, because they are in a financial hardship? Have you seen chapter upon chapter of so-and-so begot so-and-so? It’s very obvious that biology, heritage, and ancestry was extremely important to God. Why else is this all in the Bible? And Moses, the great example always given for adoption, was not “gifted” to any particular couple. He was sent downstream by a terrified mother who wanted to save his life. And, in God’s infinite wisdom, Moses’ mother became his wet nurse and the person who cared for him. It was Moses who destroyed the people (think his adoptive people) who suppressed his true people, his biological roots, his family. And then he returned home. This is the true story of Moses. A baby “adopted” only because his life would have ended if he hadn’t been. A man who returned home to his people, when all was said and done. God’s infinitely wise plan.

Did you know?

It Was Meant To Be – Using Religion to Justify Adoption

In the adoption community, from birthmoms, adoptive parents, and even the occasional adoptee I often hear statements about adoption being the “destiny” for the adopted child. Some of these statements include, but, of course, are not limited to:

“I knew from the first time I met them (adoptive parents) they were meant to be -insert child’s name here- mom and dad.”

“It was God’s plan for my child to be adopted by -insert adoptive parents names here.”

“My mom and dad were meant to be my real parents. I can’t imagine my life without them!”

“I know why our previous placement failed. I was meant to be -insert child’s name- mom.”

These types of statements always irritate me. It implies that there is a pre-determined destiny for every person living in this world and that there is nothing you can do to change that. It implies that there is no free will. It was “meant to be.” It also implies (when you use the “God’s plan” phrase) that either 1) God makes mistakes and put the wrong baby in the wrong womb or 2) God is a cruel God and wanted people to suffer through the loss of adoption to fulfill his plan.

None of that makes sense, however, because it is quite contradictory to what the bible tells us. God’s original plan for your life does not include the pain of relinquishing a child. It does not include your mother suffering through relinquishing you and it certainly does not include a woman suffering the loss of relinquishment so that you can parent her child. It simply ISN’T MEANT TO BE. We have free will and the way adoption works today is man-made.

The biblical sense of the word “adoption” is the way that Christ “adopted” all of us sinners as His own children. In the spiritual sense. Through the Holy Spirit we are now able to inherit the heritage of the Lord – everlasting life and His kingdom in heaven. This spiritual adoption is also something we are free to choose, ourselves. How many newborn babies choose adoption? They can’t. It is forced upon them regardless of what they may or may not want in the future.

Another reason that adoption, today, would not be approved by “the Holy One” is the secrecy, lies, deceit, manipulation and betrayal that come with it. Let’s start with the first lie, and the most important that an adoption is based on. The birth certificate of the adoptee is changed and two people are put on it as the people who are biologically their mother and father. Maybe an adoptee is told they are adopted (I certainly hope so) but, all too often, this enables adoptive parents the ability to never tell their child that their birth certificate lies and that their mother did not give birth to them. “Thou shalt not lie.”  Secrecy. Adoption is shrouded in it. It’s a secret who an adoptee’s biological mother and father are. It’s a secret who gave birth to them. There ancestry is a secret. Even the adoption records (which exist because the adoptee does) are a secret. “For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” I’ve already written about deceit, manipulation and betrayal. We all know adoption is littered with it. I need not go into again.

“A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will not escape.”

“No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes.”

And my favorite:

“For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.”

Adoption, the institution that exists today, is far from what God would approve of. Far far from it. How can one utter “It was God’s plan” while at the same time reading the same bible that I am? It was God’s plan for your mother to be tied down to a table while her child was taken away from her against her will the second it was born? It was God’s plan for your child to have the proof of his very existence shrouded in lies? It was God’s plan for a naive young woman to believe the lies an adoptive parent has told her about keeping an adoption open while they disappear after a few short years? The list could go on and on.

Adoption is not “God’s Plan.”

There are children out there who are truly not safe with their original families and there are no suitable relatives to care for them. Yes, even in this case, it wasn’t “God’s Plan.” God’s plan was for that mother to take care of her children properly and lovingly. It was her free will, not His plan, that changed everything. Was the removal of a child from a truly abusive home a way for God to revise his original plan and turn it around into a happy outcome for that child? Sure. That can certainly happen. It is NOT God’s plan for a woman to give her child to richer parents. It is NOT God’s plan for a woman not to parent her child when she is being offered all the resources she needs to do just that. Naive. That’s what these women are. And I do feel sorry for them. They have been led to believe that they are not good enough for their children and someone else will give them a “better life.” They draw this conclusion based solely on what agencies and attorneys (shoot, even Lifetime movies and commercials) have led them to believe. And then, to serve their own appetites, the adopt-o-raptors swoop in.

We have made ourselves gods. Determining the fates of these children without their permission.

Can we please stop with all the “God’s Plan” bull crap. None of this is what God intended for us or our children. Let’s be honest. This is just another way to coerce a pregnant woman. Nothing more, nothing less.