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He is Mine! He is Mine. He is Mine?

The Story of Death and Birthrights in a Lesbian Couple’s Love Story

By Catherine Wayland

eli is a sparkling little boy. He is illuminated in his parent’s love for him. As his mother Carolyn dances him around the room of this program for toddlers and parents that Brody and I take together, we watch them. Carolyn and Eli are a vibrant pair that draw people into their circle of happiness. The light that shines off of them warms my son Brody and me. Brody and I can’t help but joining in on the fun they are having and we start to dance, wiggle and giggle alongside Carolyn and Eli.

As the toddler class draws to an end, other family members start to appear. John, my husband sometimes joins Brody and I for a walk in the park and lunch. For Carolyn and Eli, Lea arrives. Lea’s face brightens as she sees both Carolyn and Eli. Lea swoops up Eli and holds him in a tight and loving embrace. Lea is obviously a critical part of Eli’s stability and happiness. Whatever their formula for joy, it should be bottled – it is infectious.

Unfortunately in the United States, Carolyn, Lea and Eli’s bottle of joy would have a warning label on it. Warning – Restricted. The restrictions come about as you widen the lens of Carolyn and Eli to include their whole family picture which would include second mother, Lea and biological father, Patrick. Carolyn and Lea are a lesbian couple of 14 years that decided to have a child together five years ago.

Carolyn Montgomery is Eli’s biological mother. Lea Forant is Eli Forant’s second mother. Patrick is Carolyn and Lea’s mutual friend who is a gay male, and the known donor and biological father of Eli. Lea has put in for second-parent adoption papers, and must wait for an answer from the courts. Until then, Lea’s only claim to Eli is her love. If Carolyn were to die before the adoption passes, Lea might lose Eli to strangers.

The restrictions are that in the United States, Carolyn and Lea cannot be a legally, married couple in which Lea can sign Eli’s birth certificate. The restrictions are legal and extremely personal. And so, before deciding to get pregnant, Carolyn and Lea hired an attorney to understand all the critical paperwork to prevent the tragedy of Lea losing Eli.

Carolyn knew she wanted to have a baby in her body and felt the maternal tug. Her sister Anita who is also a lesbian had been through a similar process of second-parent adoption and became a mentor to her little sister, Carolyn. Anita and her partner were able to successfully adopt their child with the second-parent adoption process. So, Carolyn and Lea were hopeful. But there was important written work that went into protecting that vulnerable waiting period.

Carolyn and Lea’s attorney drew up a fourteen-page document for the three parties involved to sign. Patrick would donate the sperm and wanted to be a father, but never a full-time parent. Carolyn and Lea respected Patrick’s wishes gratefully and assigned legal guardians for their son if something should ever happen to both of them. Carolyn and Lea also made sure to protect Patrick from any financial responsibility. In return, they conceived their wonderful Eli, after the first successful home insemination when Carolyn rushed home from a singing gig during her monthly ovulation cycle. Whola – baby! Whola – joy! But wait, remember joy here must be patient, must be tempered.

Carolyn and Lea are domestic, common law partners as documented in papers by the City Hall of New York. They fell in love fourteen years ago, and worked hard to become a stable, loving couple that was ready for a baby. After their City Hall papers were signed, they had a ceremony in a 480-year old farmhouse in Normandy, France and a reception at St. John the Divine in New York. Carolyn and Lea are a couple that are smart, funny, creative, romantic and earnest together. Lea is a chef and Carolyn is a singer. Together they run a successful caf é and catering business in New York City. It is so easy to get swept up in the magic of their story together. It is so inspiring to watch Carolyn and Lea and their powerful love for Eli.

But wait, don’t forget – this bottle of joy comes with a warning label.
Warning – Restrictions.

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