"Lez Build A Family" Webseries Shows Realities of Parenting

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Thursday Aug 22, 2013

In an effort to demystify parenting for lesbians, Canada's Maya Jean-Baptiste has launched the webseries "Lez Build a Family," to share practical information on having and raising children. The series will feature a weekly episode on issues ranging from insemination, fostering, adoption, surrogacy and the controversial new two-egg method of fertilization. It will also go over the legal rights of LGBT couples in each country it covers.

"It is legal to get married in Canada and all the provinces," said Jean-Baptiste. "Adoption is okay and insemination for lesbian couples and all other methods of procreation are also legal here in Canada."

But not all locales are so welcoming. Jean-Baptiste warns that countries like Russia and Italy do not allow LGBT couples to adopt, and notes that many Italians go to Spain to adopt children.

The series will also look at legal rights of co-parents after a relationship ends, relaying the story of a couple who was together and raising a child for six years before they split up.

"One took the baby and the other had no visitation rights," said Jean-Baptiste. "But you have to know that even if you are not married, you still have rights. You have to know your rights."

The series, which currently has about 10 episodes in production, will feature both everyday couples from around the world, sharing their parenting experiences, and specialists from adoption centers and clinics, who will help tell people what they need to do to start their family.

Jean-Baptiste also spoke of a controversial new method of two-egg fertilization currently permitted only in Australia.

"They take eggs from each female partner and chemically change one so it is transferred into sperm, and can fertilize the other one to become a baby," she explained. "So two lesbians could have their own biological child. It could be the end of needing a man to procreate."

The doctors have said it is safe, said Jean-Baptiste, and many couples from the United States and Canada are trying to find our more about the procedure. She is attempting to get one of the two couples who have had it done to be interviewed for the series.

Having real couples share their stories is a good way for prospective parents to manage their expectations, said Jean-Baptiste. They can see that some women have to try 20 times before insemination works, and others have had multiple miscarriages in the process.

"It doesn’t necessarily work the first time; it takes a while, so we want to tell them that," said Jean-Baptiste. "It is not going to be easy, but we want to share that with them and also let them know that one day, it will get easier. They will know what to expect: that the first time, the first country, the first surrogacy might not work."

Although Lez Build a Family is currently targeted toward lesbians, Jean-Baptiste said that she would eventually move toward more resources for gay men, which she said, "is much more difficult, depending on what they are choosing. Many countries will not accept adoptions from two gay men, as opposed to two lesbians."

Similarly, some countries or regions are not as friendly toward LGBT parents at all. The webseries will offer travel advice so that couples can know where it’s safe to walk around with your partner and child, and when it’s best to bring along paperwork documenting your relationship, in the case of medical emergency.

In an effort to include stories from as many lesbians as possible, on August 12, Jean-Baptiste launched a $30,000 fundraising campaign.

She hopes that the money will fund her travel expenses to interview the many participants who are not located in Canada, so she can wander as far as possible in search of new stories.

"Ninety percent of the participants are not from here; only three couples are Canadian, as opposed to 40 that we have contacted in the United States," said Jean-Baptiste. "There are also couples in Italy and Russia, although that couple is unsure if they want to participate in this, with everything that is going on there. We also want to get to Australia, to interview a couple that had the baby via the two-egg method."

As the series continues, it will move from covering the nuts and bolts of getting pregnant to covering the reality of lesbian parenting, which differs from heterosexual parenting in terms of social integration of families in the face of homophobia. It will feature interviews with both parents and children, who have personally decided to be part of the series.

Jean-Baptiste said that she wants the series to reach maximum impact, because she sincerely believed it would contribute toward a change in mindset and help many lesbians get the tools they need to raise a family.

" ’Lez Build a Family’ is a means toward a change of mentality in attitudes, but also an essential tool in the fight for equality," she said. Jean-Baptiste will begin shooting episodes of the webseries in October, and will broadcast them in the beginning of December, via their website and social networks.

Jean-Baptiste will participate in an interview with Curve Magazine at 4 p.m. PDT on August 30. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/LezBuildAFamily or https://www.facebook.com/curvemag For more information about Lez Build a Family, visit http://lezbuildafamilyacp.wix.com/lezbuildafamily

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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