If you’re a fan of Teen Mom OG you’ve no doubt heard about the latest installment of drama in the lives of Tyler Baltierra and Catelynn Lowell. Teresa, the adoptive mother of Baltierra and Lowell’s biological daughter, Carly, called unexpectedly during Monday’s episode of Teen Mom, asking Lowell to stop including Carly in their conversations during filming hours and to keep their relationship off TV.
Whatever was behind the reason for Teresa's request, one has to assume she had her daughter’s best interest at heart. No threats were made, no ultimatums were issued — just an ask from one party involved in an open adoption to another party.
Lowell told Teresa she’d never choose MTV over her family, but Baltierra’s reaction was a little more explosive. Maybe petulant is a better word to describe it.
“This is what I do, I share my story. If [they] think I’m not going to talk about it and express how I feel about Carly and this relationship… well, sorry. If that costs me the ultimate cost, well…”
In case you’re not connecting the dots, the “ultimate cost” refers to not having a future connection with his biological daughter, which he’s apparently willing to risk.
There are two things that strike me about his reaction, however. 1. Baltierra’s immaturity is showing big time and; 2. He’s within his rights to talk about his feelings about his biological daughter.
Adoption is complicated. I should know. Two of my kids are adopted, and although their birth mothers aren’t a presence in our in our lives, there are still feelings. And conflict. And love. And angst. I told you it was complicated.
I’m not a Teen Mom OG fan, but I know enough about the storyline to know that Baltierra is an immature ass who is probably having a hotheaded knee-jerk reaction to being told what he can’t do or say. His reaction is selfish. It’s childish. It’s also probably pretty normal.
As a mom, I can only imagine how challenging it would be if the details of my child’s life were randomly mentioned on MTV without my consent. Carly is growing up and is becoming more cognizant of her unique family dynamic because, let’s face it, being related to someone who makes a living by spilling their dirt on MTV has got to get a little weird sometimes.
As a middle-aged woman and a seasoned parent, I roll my eyes at Baltierra’s reaction and hope he thinks better of his “my way or the highway” outburst in the interest of preserving some sort of rapport with his biological daughter and her parents.
As an adoptive mom who writes frequently on the adoptive parent’s perspective on adoption, however, I’m standing with Baltierra. While I’m not famous, I have published a great deal of writing about the not-so-pretty side of adoption: battling post-adoption depression and difficulty attaching to one of my children. I’ve put all of this and more out there for public consumption because I’m a storyteller. That’s what I do. I also like to think my words reach the people who most need to hear them.
Yes, I try to be sensitive to what my kids might think when they’re old enough to read my writing, but parts of their stories are my stories too, and a huge part of who I am. Adoption isn’t birth parent-centered. It’s not adoptive parent-centered. It’s not child-centered. It’s complicated. Everyone has a stake, and everyone should have a voice.
I understand where Carly’s parents are coming from. They want to protect their daughter. They probably struggle with the right balance between the desire to give her the connection to her birth family and the need to distance their family from the three-ring circus. I understand it’s probably jarring to hear two reality TV stars who share DNA with your kid talk about her on MTV. Maybe they’ll have to make some different decisions on how open they really want this adoption to be. That’s for them to figure out.
We can tsk-tsk and point our fingers in Baltierra’s direction. We can accuse him of being a hothead (true) and for letting his ego get in the way of what’s in Carly’s best interest (maybe true.) But most of us haven’t walked in his shoes. Most of us don’t know what it’s like to give up a child and watch that child be raised by others. He doesn’t have a say in how Carly is parented, but he’s an undeniable part of her life. He has a right to his feelings and the free will to express them how he chooses.
Hopefully, time will bring him perspective. One can always hope the common sense fairy will pay him a visit. Maybe he’ll come to appreciate where Carly’s parents are coming from with their request for privacy. But, I think we need to appreciate where Baltierra is coming from as well.
Like I said, adoption is complicated.
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