A Christian adoption agency appeared on an MTV series last week that chronicles the lives of several pregnant 16-year-old girls.
"16 and Pregnant," the new MTV documentary show, aired an episode this past Thursday night that followed a Detroit-area pregnant teen who goes through Bethany Christian Services to give her child up for adoption to a North Carolina family.
Bethany explains that it agreed to be part of the program on MTV, which is "notorious for morally questionable programs," because it felt the show was "a great opportunity to educate pregnant teenagers to its services" so that young women viewers would consider "adoption as an option over abortion." The agency also hopes the show will increase awareness about the many children who need loving parents.
Bethany Christian Services is the nation's largest private adoption agency. In addition to adoption services, it also offers foster care and counseling to children and families. With over 75 locations nationwide and international ministries in over a dozen countries, Bethany affects the lives of more than 30,000 people each year.
In Thursday's episode, high school junior Catelynn and her boyfriend of three years, Tyler, decide to give their baby up for adoption. The episode chronicles the different reactions of their family members to the idea of adoption – from anger to support – and the couple's difficult process in deciding to give up their baby.
Through the help of Bethany Christian Services, the teen parents find a couple they think would be the perfect match for their child. The episode ends with the adoptive parents giving Catelynn a bracelet and telling her that the baby has the same one. Catelynn and the adoptive parents agree that the biological mother and baby will wear the bracelet forever.
Bethany acknowledges that working with MTV to get the word out about adoption is a "progressive approach" for a "generally conservative organization." But it sees the cooperation as a beneficial opportunity to the ministry's mission.
In addition to Bethany Christian Services, several other Christian organizations in the United States are working to care for orphans and helping with the process of adoption. Among these Christian orphan care ministries is Show Hope, founded by award-winning CCM artist Steven Curtis Chapman who has adopted three girls from China.
Show Hope, originally founded under the name of Shoahannah's Hope, seeks to reduce the financial barriers to adoption, among other objectives. It has helped over 2,000 orphans from 40 countries find homes since its founding in 2003. The non-profit organization was recognized this year at a banquet organized by Children's Hunger Fund.
In America, half a million children are in foster care, and approximately 120,000 of these children are waiting to be adopted. There are more than 130 million orphans and fatherless children in the world who have lost one or both parents, according to UNICEF.