Photo Credit: NBC
Oxygen's I'm Having Their Baby is a lot like MTV's Teen Mom. The show -- which airs its second season premiere on Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET -- is told from the point of view of an unhappily pregnant young woman. She's feeling stressed-out and ill-equipped to provide for a baby, but she doesn't want to give her child up, either.
Most (though not all) of the Teen Mom cast members choose to keep the baby. But at the start of this show, which features two moms per episode, they've all decided to put the baby up for adoption. No one's happy about it, and just like on MTV, there are plenty of deadbeat boyfriends and disappointed parents around to whip up some already very stormy emotions.
Not surprisingly, the show has been a hit for Oxygen. Maybe not the record-breaking numbers who watch Teen Mom, but then this show doesn't tend to include moms who beat their boyfriends, get arrested for drug possession and make sex tapes. Yet even without these sensationalistic touches, I'm Having Their Baby still managed to be Oxygen's highest-rated new show in 2012.
The Season 2 opener focuses in part on a 23-year-old named Tory, who was already a single mom to a toddler when she became pregnant again. "This is the hardest decision that I'll ever have to make in my life," she tells the camera. "I wish I could keep her, but I just don't really know where my relationship with Mike will be going. ... I want to go to college and become a nurse, so I can give Bentley a better life." But Mike is already regretting his decision to sign over his parental rights. Watch a sneak peek here:
In a later scene, during a doctor's visit, we learn just how complicated this situation is. "Looking at Eliza [on the ultrasound screen], I feel like crying, but I'm trying to hold back," says Tory in the sneak peek below. "But this is making me realize the adoption is going to be a lot harder than I thought."
A sad truth about adoption: In many cases, a struggling young woman from a lower social class finds herself handing her baby over to a more affluent couple. "It's hard to leave the hospital without him, but I have to keep reminding myself that I made the right decision," said an 18-year-old single mom named Mariah during Season 1. In a follow-up video filmed a year later, we see Mariah and her first child (a toddler named Paisley) visiting the baby at his new home with adoptive parents Jake and Jessica.
"Joseph seems to be very happy," says Mariah, who lives modestly with Paisley and is working toward her GED. "And if he's happy, then I'm happy."
It's a lovely moment -- and also a heartbreaking one. Jake and Jessica appear willing to allow Mariah to stay in Joseph's life, but no one has any delusions about who his mother is. And it's all because Mariah didn't have the money to raise him.
Last month, Oxygen Media released the results of a study it commissioned about motherhood and adoption. The study found that 82% of those questioned define a "mother" as the "woman who raised you." That's only natural, but this show presents the inherent pain involved in giving up a child. These stories can't not be compelling drama, and they're bound to keep I'm Having Their Baby going strong for years to come.