Michelle Money is well known to Bachelor fans — she's been in multiple seasons, and her blunt, take-no-prisoners personality was played up big time for the camera. But up until recently, it was assumed that the reality star made her debut as a single mom of one child: a daughter.
Turns out there's more to her past than she was initially ready to reveal, and Bachelor fans were stunned when she announced during a beauty product promotional video that her daughter was actually her second experience with childbirth. Instead, she revealed, she became pregnant with and subsequently put her first child — a baby boy — up for adoption when she was just 15 years old.
In the world of reality TV, it is so easy to separate people into "good" and "bad," and though she later said she hated the role, Money often found herself portrayed in the latter camp. She was a handy villain, and surely there will be some out there who will find out about this recent development and allow that to further color their perception of her.
But Michelle Money isn't a villain at all. She's a hero.
For anyone who has ever been through an adoption, whether as a birth parent or an adoptive one, it's an undeniable fact that the process can be nothing short of a massive snarl of emotions. Love and sorrow and joy and tragedy are so often interwoven and intertwined that it can be hard to see where one ends and the other begins. And while it is almost always seen as a selfless act of love to adopt a child, placing a child for adoption is no less selfless and no less rooted in love. That doesn't make it easy.
Money herself called the decision to place her son for adoption "the hardest thing [she's] ever done" and said that the choice, while not an easy one to make, was — beyond a shadow of a doubt — the correct one.
Fifteen is not the age of motherhood. Fifteen is barely the age of young adulthood. We don't know Money personally, but we do know what it's like to be a young mother. Even at 19, or 20 or 22, young moms face hurdles financially and emotionally that older mothers don't necessarily have to clear.
We try — and mostly succeed — at giving our children the best lives' we can. And while every mother's sacrifice is immeasurable, to parent a child when you are still so close to the border that demarcates your own childhood from the rest of your life requires more than it is sometimes possible to give. If it were possible to see the future, adoption decisions might be much easier.
If you could ask yourself if you could handle the pressure and the responsibility and the financial strain and still manage to keep you and your child above water, and know the answer with 100 percent surety, you could know if you were doing the right thing. Many times, at such a young age, that answer would be no.
And that's no indictment of young mothers. Young moms in their teens often don't have a camera following them or a financially lucrative reality TV career or even a hand up in a world that sometimes actively despises and derides them, and their children can suffer for it. It isn't an easy path at all, but it's another path that's walked in love.
And that's why adoption is such a gift. It does allow a young mother who realistically understands that she is not prepared to gamble on her child's future to give the child she loves a fighting chance. It's a choice that can't be made in a day or even to feel certain about in the space of an entire pregnancy.
Money says that for years she struggled with her decision and worked hard to buck the stereotypes attached to being a teen birth mother. Now, 20 years later, she can say with certainty that she made the right choice, even as her voice cracks with emotion when she does.
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