“Unwed Utah ‘Birth Moms’ star on TLC.“ Yes. That’s the heading of an article spotlighting a new show on TLC called “Birth Moms.” I know that some of you who read this are going to watch it simply because I’m urging you to do the opposite. But please, I beg of you, do not watch this show and tell others you may know to not give TLC a chance to make this an entire series by watching. Right now it’s just one show, airing this Thursday night (the 17th).
I cannot even begin to tell you the coercion involved in not only doing the show, but the agency as well. Though I’m not familiar with the agency spotlighted and I’ve not taken the time to research it thoroughly, the little that I’ve gathered speaks volumes. Even reading the comments on the article have spoken the same. Apparently this particular agency coaches pregnant women on how to lie to the fathers involved. I would venture a guess that a decent-sized group of women that are even considering an adoption decision are doing so because the father is not involved. However, even if the father is not involved, he still needs to have full knowledge of the decision and I believe he should have to sign his rights away just as the mother does when she relinquishes to adoption. The one exception to this case would be if the father is not known, as in cases of rape. Fathers have just as many rights to decide what happens to their child as the mothers do, especially if adoption is on the table. However as we all know based on the news coverage of the father fighting in the courts to get his child back because the mother lied to him and relinquished their daughter to adoption in Utah, Utah does not have laws in place that even require the father to be notified. I believe this is the case because of all the religion-based adoptions in Utah. I wrote a post yesterday about my belief that too many religion-based agencies are extremely coercive. Shows like this spotlighting one such agency only add fuel to the fire.
Even though the article says that they provide these girls with options of getting help should they decide not to relinquish, the emphasis looks like it’s on adoption. They are provided agency housing. That’s coercive in and of itself. If an agency of any type wants to provide housing assistance for pregnant women due to various needs they might have, it should either be foster homes where the foster home is not looking to adopt a baby of any sort, or it should be some other type of government-assisted housing. I strongly believe no agency should directly provide housing because it puts undue pressure on the mother to relinquish. Even if nothing is said directly there’s an unspoken expectation that you’ll “be a good girl” and do what the agency wants you to do, which is relinquish so they can get paid by the family who wants to adopt.
The fact that they’re doing a show on these women is also extremely coercive. Never mind the fact that they’re already referring to them as “birth moms,” a term that while appropriate post-relinquishment, is not appropriate prior to that time because of its coercive nature. One of my closest friends is one of the founders of BirthMom Buds. She’s gotten more than one call from various TV producers about them wanting to do a show following several “birth mothers” from pregnancy through to relinquishment. Never mind that though BirthMom Buds doesn’t provide resources for those who decide not to relinquish, BirthMom Buds does not coerce anybody into making that decision in the first place. Therefore BirthMom Buds wouldn’t want to provide TV producers with access to those women because like me, they believe putting a pregnant woman trying to decide whether to relinquish or not in front of TV cameras while she makes that decision is coercive.
This show is wrong. Please don’t give the producers reasons to continue the show. While it may be too late for the mothers being spotlighted on the show, we don’t want to give that agency more publicity either.