A Miami-Dade circuit judge has approved a private adoption allowing three people — a gay man and a married lesbian couple — to be listed on the birth certificate of their 23-month-old daughter.
“We’re creating entirely new concepts of families. If you have two women seeking to be listed as Parent One and Parent Two, that does not exclude listing a man as father,” said Miami family lawyer Karyn J. Begin, who represented dad Massimiliano “Massimo” Gerina in a two-year paternity case involving lesbian friends who had his baby.
Maria Italiano and Cher Filippazzo, who married in Connecticut, asked that their attorney, Kenneth Kaplan, speak on their behalf.
"There are three parties involved. I agree that makes the case unique," Kaplan said Thursday.
"People have to understand, the case is really a second-parent adoption, meaning that there are not three equal parents. There are three involved but there are two people who have sole parental responsibility," Kaplan said. "Under Florida law, they make all the decisions for the child. This is an adoption by two women, with him receiving certain rights."
The women, according to Begin, are longtime partners who unsuccessfully attempted to become pregnant through professional fertility clinics.
Instead of giving up, they decided to try again at home and approached Gerina about fathering a child.
“They asked me,” Gerina said. “I was flattered by it. I thought what a great opportunity for me to have a baby.”
A single Bay Harbor Islands hair stylist, Gerina explained why he desires children: “It’s nature — the same reason a woman wants to be a mother.”
Gerina grew up Cagliari, Italy, where he never thought he could become a father. Eight years ago, though, he moved to South Florida and encountered many gay parents raising children.
“It’s not unusual here. Where I am from it’s unusual. I grew up with the mentality that it would never happen,” he said. “When I moved here, I saw gay couples, lesbian couples having families.”
On only a verbal agreement, Gerina gave the women his sperm and Italiano conceived. The lesbians planned for Filippazzo to later adopt the baby and they would both raise the child.
Florida law specifies that sperm donors have no legal rights in artificial inseminations. Thus the hitch: Gerina says he considered himself a parent, not simply a donor. The women, he claimed, “wanted a father for the baby, not just the sperm.”
Two weeks after insemination, Italiano learned she was pregnant. About seven months later, the women called Gerina and asked him to sign a contract.
“When they gave me the paper to sign that I had to give up all my rights to the baby, I didn’t,” he said.
Gerina began to ponder the legal consequences of siring a child. He hired Begin and presented the women with papers of his own.
“My papers said I would have parental rights, a visitation schedule,” he said. “They hated it. They said this wasn’t what they wanted. I said, ‘Now that you’re already pregnant, you should have thought about that before.’ ”
Kaplan said the mothers always intended for Emma to know her dad.
"As the child gets older, the child will want to know who her father is," Kaplan said. "They want to be an honest family and they’re not going to keep secrets from the child. He loves the child. That’s a beautiful thing. The more people who can love your child, the better it is."