Caitriona Palmer: No returning to 'normal' life for women after giving up babies
After eight years living in the United States, I thought I had become inured to the absurdity of American reality television. Until last week, while on a whim, I flicked on the remote and tuned into Oxygen Channel's controversial reality show, 'I'm Having Their Baby'.
The docu-series show follows women across America struggling with unplanned pregnancies, following them in the months before their due date as they make the heart-rending decision to place their newborn babies up for adoption. Their reasons are complex and nuanced: there are unmarried teenagers, a wife desperate to win back her husband after falling pregnant during an extramarital affair, and a multitude of low-income mothers too weary and poor to contemplate adding another child to the mix.
Against the backdrop of tear-jerking music and emotional clips from pregnancy "diary cams", these pregnant women are portrayed as maternal martyrs making the ultimate sacrifice – selflessly giving away their babies to help childless couples realise dreams of a real family. "You can give me something I can't give myself," a tearful adoptive mother tells a young birth mother.