In an emotional episode of Teen Mom OG last night, Catelynn and Tyler Baltierra reunited with their daughter, Carly, 12 years after placing her for adoption. The couple, who are now actively parenting three daughters together, hadn't seen her since before the pandemic began.
In 2009, Catelynn and Tyler captured everyone's hearts as they navigated teen pregnancy and agonized over raising Carly themselves or placing her for adoption. Ultimately, the two teens decided their unfortunate circumstances left them ill-equipped to raise her on her own and chose to place her with North Carolina couple Brandon and Theresa in hopes of giving her a better life.
Now both 29 and parents to Novalee, Vaeda, and Rya, they still keep in touch with Carly through their adoption counselor and get to see her in person once a year.
Because of the pandemic, Catelynn and Tyler hadn't seen Carly in over two years—until last night's episode.
"When Ty and I chose a semi-open adoption at 16, I never realized how joyful and painful it would be," Catelynn says in the emotional episode. "After Carly turned 4, the cameras weren't allowed at our visits out of respect to her adoptive parents, but now I focus on the girls having a relationship as sisters."
Though we don't get to see the actual reunion, we do get to see Tyler and Catelynn in the immediate aftermath. Tyler even breaks down to the couple's adoption counselor, Dawn.
"It never gets any easier," he says of leaving Carly.
"You wouldn't be human if it did," Dawn says while embracing him.
"I really do think that it opened the eyes for lots of people to really see how real adoption works and the struggles that birth parents go through and adoptive parents go through," Catelynn said. "It's not a Lifetime movie. It's authentic."
She's dedicated to showing the ups and downs of her family's story to bring more awareness to adoption and all of the emotions and milestones that go along with it.
"Whenever you make an adoption plan, you're always for the rest of your life going to have days of struggle, days of wondering what if," she explained. "I think that the adoptive children go through that as well like, ‘What would my life have been like with my biological parents and things with my biological sisters.' I think it's just a lifelong journey of having sad days and trying to remember why you are grateful for the life that she has, but also knowing that it's okay to sit with those sad and hard feelings."
Most importantly, Catelynn hopes viewers understand that adoption is, ultimately, a sacrifice for all involved.
"I know that it's going to be a lifelong journey of missing out, my kids missing out on their sister's things and Carly missing out on her younger sisters' things," she said. "It's part of the sacrifice of adoption. You know, we sacrifice a lot for this child to have the life that she has."