Through its first five episodes, Logo’s heart-wrenching docu-series The Baby Wait has explored the complexities of open adoption by giving voice to the birth mother as well as the adoptive family, tracking that period when the child is with the new family but could still be taken back. The season comes to a close Tuesday at 9pm.
During its run, The Baby Wait has largely avoided controversy, despite coming from the producers of such cultural lightning rods as Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant. The show also features the often heated subject of same-sex couples wanting children. But the treatment of the stories has been far from sensationalist, focusing on the emotions, which — regardless of the orientations or races involved — are strikingly similar.
Mike and Marcie, a couple featured on the series’ second episode, already had a son, Judah, but were desperate to add to their family. They were paired with Kristen, a 22-year-old woman who found herself pregnant with her third child. While everything has turned out well in the end — with the newly adoptive parents still maintaining a close relationship with the birth mother — the journey getting there wasn’t easy. Those tentative days when baby Ellie was in their home, but not officially their daughter yet, were fraught with fears that their new family wouldn’t be allowed to take hold. On the other side, Kristen struggled mightily with feelings of guilt and shame, and worry that people viewed her as irresponsible and uncaring.
It begs the question, why would anyone want to go through this on national television?
“We first got the opportunity from our attorney,” Marcie says. “He thought we’d never do it in a million years. But we sat down with Kristen and talked about it and decided that for Ellie it would be the best way for her to get to see her story, and not just hear about it. We’re very excited and very thankful to have it for her point of view.”
It was also enlightening from their own vantage points, getting to see Kristen’s private moments during the ordeal.
“The most eye-opening part of the show was we had no clue the part that Kristin had filmed,” Mike says. “We understood, from talking on the phone and talking to her, but you never really know it till you see it, to actually see her pain and what she was having to go through. Seeing both sides of the story really made a difference.”
Beyond their own story, Mike and Marcie are glad to have the spotlight turned onto open adoption. Theirs was a happy ending, but they know that many people still might have reservations about the concept.
“Adoption has two very different viewpoints from the adoptive parents’ side to a birth mom’s side, and I think [The Baby Wait] gives the opportunity for people to see both sides,” Marcie says. “A lot of the time birth moms feel ashamed for what they’ve done, but they get to see the other side of what they’re giving a family. It definitely makes them look like the hero of the story, and not have to feel ashamed and embarrassed. It definitely raises awareness for open adoption, because that’s not very common yet. I think it will be more and more as the years go by. It shows people that it can work, and it’s not something completely crazy.”