Note from The Ashley: This story is the second in a series of “Life After 16 & Pregnant” stories, in which The Ashley catches up with girls that have appeared on the show and examines how being on the show has affected their lives. (To read the first story in the series, click here.)
There have been three seasons of MTV’s hit show 16 & Pregnant, and though many of the girls featured on the show have had interesting stories that tell of absent parents, abusive boyfriends and less-than-ideal situations, perhaps no story has reached as deep into the soul of viewers as that of Ashley Salazar, who wavered on whether or not to raise her child or allow her to be adopted by family members.
Her episode, which served as the finale for the second part of Season 2, provided a glimpse into the hardships and heartbreak of what it’s really like to give up a baby you’ve carried for nine months.
Although ’16 & Pregnant’ fans had watched Catelynn and Tyler give their baby up for adoption during Season 1, Ashley’s episode struck an even deeper chord, as she wasn’t as settled with her decision as they were. Through it all, she wrote about her experiences on her blog.
It’s been nearly two years since Ashley appeared on the show. Her daughter, Callie, will be two in December, and life is beginning to get back to normal. Still, the impact of appearing on the show still affects her life.
“The reactions that received were negative and positive, of course,” Ashley said. “I would say that I have more positivity than negativity, though. What is strange to me is how people recognize me a lot of the time when I go somewhere.”
When she applied to be on ’16 & Pregnant,’ she never expected to actually get picked, let alone be faced with having the most difficult decision of her life played out on national TV for all to see.
“It’s harder than it seems,” said Ashley. “You are in such an emotional time of your life and the cameras sometimes got overwhelming. I would also worry what Callie would think about the episodes in the future. I would just tell myself it was for a good cause. That was the hardest part; that and knowing millions would be watching and judging.”
“My show was so real,” Ashley said, in response to those who wonder if the drama of her episode was staged by MTV producers to bump up ratings. “There were things, though, that were necessary to film that I didn’t want to, for example meetings with my social worker or me crying in the hospital or the car. But it was what I had signed up for. [It was] really hard and was such an emotional time.”
And though she did end up allowing her daughter to be adopted by her aunt and uncle, she struggled to accept her decision (and still does today). Viewers were able to see this during the recent Adoption Special. Ashley, along with Catelynn and Tyler of Season 1, joined Dr. Drew on stage to discuss their experiences with adoption.
“I agreed [to do the Special] because I figured it was my chance to give a real perspective specifically on adoption,” Ashley said. “I just hope others got out of the shows what I hoped they would. “
On the Adoption Special, we saw that while Catelynn and Tyler seemed at peace with their decision, Ashley still wondered if she had made the right decision. Since then, however, things have gotten better.
“I still struggle a lot but I do it privately. I just have to face the decision I made with what I guess I thought was right years ago,” said Ashley.
“I hope to be at peace [with the decision] as much as Catelynn is someday,” she added. “But I am better off with the adoption. I just realized that not much can be changed so I have to make the best with what I have,” said Ashley.
Today, Ashley has a lot to be grateful for. She is able to see her daughter regularly and has a steady relationship with a new guy, Jordan. Though he did not appear on ’16 & Pregnant,’ Ashley being on the show has also effected Jordan’s life.
“Sometimes people are mean to him, and he wasn’t used to it, but he brushes it off,” Ashley said. “He gets defensive on my part sometimes. He has tried to stick up for me before, and also thinks it’s funny when we are out in public and someone says something [about the show]. We are great; I would say I’m in love.”
Ashley’s relationship with Callie and Callie’s adoptive parents, Kenny and Lisa, is doing well.
“[We] go visit Callie a lot,” Ashley added. “I have seen Callie every month. Jordan helps me plan trips and practically drives us down there.”
Callie, who calls her birth mother “Momma Ashley,” loves going on adventures with Ashley and Jordan, such as taking trips to the Target toy department. (“I taught her how to jump up and down and say, “TOYS! TOYS! TOYS!” said Ashley.)
Though her future will always include her daughter, Ashley has big plans for the coming year, including the release of her book, Bittersweet Blessing, which chronicles the anguish Ashley went through during her pregnancy and adoption ordeal. The book will be available from Power House books this winter. (If you want to pre-order it, click the box in the sidebar.)
Though Ashley isn’t able to give away all the details of what readers can expect, she does say that the book is based off her blog but has so much more inside. She hopes that her story will help other girls that find themselves in similar situations.
“I just wanted people to see the real emotional perspective from my eyes, behind the scenes of it all,” said Ashley. “I hope it will reach wide audiences. Hopefully birth mothers old and young [that are] still struggling [will read it], as well as girls who have become pregnant or anyone contemplating adoption. Hopefully the book can preach contraception and prevention to anybody that’s not ready for a child, especially teens!”
“I’m not a fame-hog…I’m just a girl trying to prevent others from having to go through something I had to experience,” Ashley said. “I was just fortunate enough to get chosen to share my story with the world.”