The next episode of “I’m Having Their Baby” features a dramatic story about an Iowa mother who has decided to place her baby boy up for adoption by her half-sister and the sister’s wife. But will she change her mind at the last minute as she is about to give birth to Simon?
Everyone in the extended nuclear family living near the tiny town of Alta, Iowa, is extremely supportive of Shannon and Amy adopting Christina’s baby, except for Lisa, who is Christina’s mother and Shannon’s stepmother. Lisa contends that she is not anti-gay or homophobic, but her words and body language indicate that she has a problem accepting scientific research showing that gays and lesbians make good parents.
Shannon and Amy speak to San Diego Gay & Lesbian News in advance of the premiere of their episode of Oxygen's “I’m Having Their Baby,” which debuts at 7 pm PDT Wednesday, Aug. 21, on satellite channels or 10 pm on cable. The episode will be repeated by the network and later will be available online.
As the show points out, there are 6 million pregnancies in the U.S. annually, and half those are unplanned. About 14,000 babies are placed up for adoption, according to the show. It is not known how many gay adoptions take place each year in the U.S.
Shannon and Amy, who are from Arizona, flew to Iowa in September to get married and to begin to establish residency in the Midwestern state, where same-gender weddings have been legal since 2009. Shannon grew up in Iowa, while Amy is a native of Phoenix, and they are planning to become permanent residents of Iowa.
“We had been planning on a family since last December,” Shannon said, noting that the couple were considering using a sperm donor to achieve a pregnancy. “But Christina came to us with her situation.”
Christina, 26, is a full-time single mom to a young daughter and a part-time nurse’s assistant. After dating a guy for only two weeks before they broke up, Christina later learned that was pregnant. She decides that she doesn’t have the resources to provide for another child, and asks Shannon and Amy if they would like to adopt instead of using a sperm bank.
The heartfelt offer appealed to the married couple because “the child is related to one of us,” Shannon said.
“Christina came to us,” Amy said. “She has made up her mind [about adoption] from the day she found out she was pregnant.
“The day Simon was born was very stressful for us. We were afraid Christina would change her mind. We were terrified she would change her mind. She even kicked us out of the delivery room.”
The sudden, unexpected twist left the lesbian couple questioning whether they wanted to go through the adoption. “We definitely had to think about not going there,” Shannon said.
The next day, however, Christina handed over Simon to Shannon and Amy, who were overjoyed.
Both said that the adoption process was long and grueling and emotionally challenging. They admit they made a mistake trying to do legal paperwork themselves, thinking that it was simply a transaction between family members who agreed to the adoption. “In hindsight, we wished we had used an adoption service,” Amy said.
The episode is airing not long after the actual birth of Simon.
“Simon is 3 weeks old,” Amy said. “He does not sleep normal hours. [laughter from both women] He is most active between 2 am to 6 am! But he is a sweet boy, and we are blessed to have him.”
Shannon calls Simon “a huge blessing” and says “he has my eyes, and me and Christina’s lips. I am pleased to see a piece of us in our son.”
Birth mom Christina will also have a role in raising Simon.
“Christina is in our lives 100%,” Amy said.
“She will be part of our lives,” Shannon added. “There is no shame in having three mommies.”
Shannon and Amy decided to live in Iowa because it is considered a much more progressive state than Arizona. For Amy, a native of Phoenix, the change is location is also a change in attitude and culture.
“Nobody stares at us here because Simon has two mommies,” Amy said.
“I was very, very surprised by how accepting Iowa was,” Shannon said. “Part of it is that gay marriage has been around for a while and they are over it.”
The only negative energy involves Lisa, Shannon’s stepmother and one of Simon’s grandmothers.
“I am beside myself and hurt,” Shannon said. “Our relationship has changed. I have no idea why she hates us [as parents]. It is not a positive thing for Simon to be around. We have decided not to allow her around us as a result. … This hurts because she helped raise a gay child.”
Shannon and Amy have a message to other gay and lesbian couples who are dreaming of having a family.
“Follow your heart to whatever path to having a family!” Shannon said. “We hope our show illuminates that adoption is one of those options.”
Amy, who is a social worker, encourages gay and lesbian couples to adopt.
“I see first-hand the need for adoption,” she said. “I highly encourage adoption as a choice. Don’t get discouraged [by the adoption process], and keep at it. You will be blessed just like we are.”
Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at [email protected], @KenSanDiego on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to 888-442-9639, ext. 713.