'16 and Pregnant': Lori, Cory and a heart-wrenching decision
MTV pulled a fast one on me. I’m used to being annoyed or irritated by the girls featured on “16 and Pregnant.” Sometimes indifferent. Always dumbfounded — even by those who aren’t teen parents-to-be. Exhibit A: The dude earlier this season who referred to a paternity test as a “faternity test.” But I’m almost 100% sure I’ve never cried while watching the program. That all changed when I watched Tuesday’s episode.
We’re introduced to 17-year-old Lori from a small town in northern Kentucky. Lori was given up for adoption when she was a baby by her teen mother. Now she too finds herself a pregnant teen with a difficult decision to make. For her adoptive parents, the decision seems easy: Give the baby up for adoption. And it’s the only option they’re pushing for. Really pushing for. Perhaps pushing for it a little too much? But it’s not so black and white for Lori. She struggles with her options, longing for that blood bond she never had.
And the baby’s daddy (and Lori’s ex-boyfriend), Cory, isn’t too keen on adoption either. He even suggests that she and the baby move in with him … and his roommate. Oy. But it’s a nice change from previous teen dads who might have dealt with the situation by sending a cruel text message. Still, Lori’s parents, who are adamantly against the teens raising the child, want Lori and Cory to realize how difficult it will be and push for them to live together on a trial basis to fully grasp what they're in for. But the plans stall, and time is running out.
To show the benefits of adoption, Lori’s mom invites over Liz, a family friend who also gave her baby up. Liz called her choice her “first parental decision” and referred to her open adoption agreement as the “best of both worlds.” And Lori illustrated just how young she is by pointing out that “Best of Both Worlds” is a Hannah Montana song. Even her mother replied, “Just the fact that she knew it was a Hannah Montana song should make her ineligible to be a parent at this age.” That might be the best argument against teen parenting that I've ever heard.
But what was a difficult decision for Lori soon became one that was sort of made for her. Lori’s dad called Cory, and the outcome was more than Lori could bear: Given their lack of financial stability, Cory finally came to terms that adoption was the answer. A sobbing Lori admitted defeat. It was heart-wrenching to watch as she realized that, as much as she wanted to keep her baby, she couldn't do it alone.
Cory and Lori met to discuss the decision. And it provided another grown-up moment that deviated from the norm of the series. There was no teen dad who cared more about his car than the well-being of his child. No teen dad who was berating the mom-to-be. Just an honest one-on-one grown-up discussion.
Then the waterworks started.
With the birth of the baby came the realization for Cory that this was it. He wouldn’t be the one watching his son grow up. And his anger over the situation and his second-guessing of his decision began to reveal itself. But there was no turning back. And he angrily demanded to hold his son one last time so he could say goodbye. If that wasn’t emotional enough, one needed only to look at the pain on Lori’s face as she watched Cory say his farewell. It was honest. It was real. And all the emotions it stirred up made Lori question if she would be able to say goodbye to baby Aidan.
But she was put at ease knowing that goodbye wouldn’t be forever. Given that she decided on an open adoption, she was somewhat calmed knowing she would still be a part of Aidan’s life and that he would grow up knowing why she had given him up — something she was never sure of growing up as an adopted child.
But something struck me during her final interview: She said she wished her parents hadn't pushed so hard for the adoption. Which makes me wonder if things would have ended differently had they been more open ... and it makes me wonder if Lori is completely OK with her decision.
So, Show Trackers, what did you think of this episode? Are you still wiping the tears from your eyes? Or were you bothered by this episode? Do you think Lori’s parents pushed too hard for the adoption? And do you agree with Lori’s mom — should the fact that you know a Hannah Montana song make you ineligible to be a parent as a teen?
— Yvonne Villarreal
Photo: Cory, Lori and baby Aidan. Credit: MTV