You may have heard about the new reality TV series on Oxygen, I’m Having Their Baby, which chronicles the adoption process of birthmothers. Each episode highlights women with different backgrounds and stories. The one thing they always have in common is that they are both pregnant and considering adoption.
Anyone who watches reality television knows that certain programs can really push the definition of “reality” to the edge. We decided to take a look at the first episode and give our thoughts on how it portrayed the experience, emotions, and life of a birthmother.
The first episode highlights two women:
Mary – a 25-year-old whose marriage wasn’t what she expected. She got sick for an extended period of time after their wedding and was disappointed in how little support she received from her husband. She ended up cheating on her husband and got pregnant. The episode focuses on her trouble choosing adoptive parents and trying to stop her husband from divorcing her so they can raise the child together.
Claudia – A 20-year-old, originally from Haiti, was adopted at a very young age and raised in Atlanta. Claudia’s story focuses on her relationship with the birthfather. Ben is portrayed as a “dead-beat dad” who has six children, with three women, at age 25. Claudia feels adoption is the best choice for her child, but Ben threatens not to sign the adoption papers. Claudia also has a boyfriend who feels the couple could raise the child together.
Overall, the show was a good, honest portrayal of what some birthmothers experience during adoption. But the reality is that every birthmother has a different story and experience. There isn’t even really a “typical birthmother” or “typical adoption experience” that would be able to cover the realm of adoption for a television program.
A critique of many reality shows is that they fabricate stories and drama. Parts of this show seemed to create a tension or rivalry between choosing adoption vs. parenting the child. There were noticeable signs in the episode that Mary wanted to raise the child herself. The way the show was edited made it seem that Mary’s adoption counselor was really pushing for adoption. The counselor seemed almost defeated when Mary decided she wanted to pick a new couple after her ultrasound and when she finally came to the conclusion that she wanted to raise the baby after birth. At IAC, we stress the importance of non-directive pregnancy counseling. Our ultimate goal is help our clients make the best decisions for themselves and most importantly, the child. If we feel a birthmother is leaning towards parenting, we offer them support and resources for that decision.
In the case of Claudia, it was the character Ben who really stood out in her story. We have found that birthfather involvement varies widely from case to case. It’s actually rare for a birthfather to actually contest an adoption while seeming completely uninterested in the birthmother. Most birthfathers are either supportive or not involved.
It’s hard to judge a series after only the first episode, so we’ll wait and see how the season progresses. Stay tuned to our blog for more reviews and reaction to the show. Let us know what you thought in the comments section below.
I’m Having Their Baby airs on the Oxygen Network Mondays, 11/10c