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The Grand River Room exceeded capacity Oct. 8 to see ‘16 and Pregnant’ stars

The Grand River Room, inside Grand Valley State University’s Kirkhof Center, reached full capacity at 500 people Monday night, with a line of more than 200 wanting to get inside to hear the real “16 and Pregnant” story.

Reality TV stars Catelynn Lowell and Tyler Baltierra came to GVSU sponsored by Bethany Christian Services and Students for Life to talk about their experience with unplanned pregnancy and their choice of adoption.

In 2009, Lowell was 16 years old, living in Algonac, Mich., and faced with a decision. She was still in high school, her mother was an alcoholic, Baltierra’s father was a crack addict, and she was pregnant.

Dawn Baker was the pregnancy counselor working with Lowell and Baltierra through their adoption process, when she was approached by MTV’s “16 and Pregnant,” and asked if she knew any birth moms that would fit the criteria – Lowell was perfect and willing.

They shared their story with audiences through the show, and are now on a university tour to connect with people who might be going through a similar situation. “We were thrilled to have the opportunity to promote choosing life, and the choice of adoption,” said R.J. McVeigh, president of Students for Life at GVSU.

Students for Life is a student-run group that values human life at every stage, and they take a pro-life stance on all issues. McVeigh said the group gives students an opportunity to speak freely about their beliefs and helps them gain courage to support life.

When Bethany Christian approached Students for Life with the opportunity to bring Lowell and Baltierra to campus, McVeigh said they were excited to help with an event that promotes a better understanding of adoption and a pro-life choice to unplanned pregnancy.

“This type of event really gives students courage,” McVeigh said. “Students should have courage in defending (their) beliefs.”

For Jackie Geyer, hearing Lowell discuss her adoption process hit close to home. Geyer is not a GVSU student, but a birth mom who worked with Bethany Christian Services and placed her son with an adoptive family.

“I wanted to see what they experienced,” Geyer said. She said it was sad to learn that Lowell chose a semi-open adoption, and only see hers daughter once or twice a year. Geyer chose a very open adoption and visits her son twice a month.

Dana Evans found out about the event from Bethany Christian Services, but as an adoptive mother, she said Lowell’s story is inspiring.

“I don’t think there’s any more amazing moment,” Evans said. “Any birth parent is amazing.”
Hearing how other parents have gone through and dealt with the decisions of unplanned pregnancy gives hope to people like Geyer.

Bethany Christian Services and Students for Life have free information available for students and anyone who might be going through an unexpected pregnancy. McVeigh said he wants students to know through events such as Monday nights that they aren’t alone, and they aren’t a minority.
“A lot of students deal with this, and a lot have the courage to make the decisions that they make,” McVeigh said.

For more information about Bethany Christian Services, go to www.bethany.org.
arts@lanthorn.com



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