A 23-month old baby now has three legal parents – her biological father, her biological mother, and her biological mother’s wife – after a Miami-Dade judge approved the private adoption in early February. The baby’s two mothers, Maria Italiano and Cher Filippazzo, longtime partners who were married in Connecticut, struggled to become pregnant through fertility clinics and approached friend Massimo Gerina about fathering their child. Gerina, a single gay man who grew up in Italy, agreed to help them, as he had always wanted children of his own. Foregoing a formal written agreement, Gerina gave the women his sperm and Italiano conceived a child. Gerina claimed that the women wanted him to be a father to the baby and not just the sperm donor; however, it soon became clear that Italiano and Filipazzo thought differently. Seven months into the pregnancy, the women asked Gerina to sign a contract waiving all of his parental rights to the child. Gerina refused, hired counsel, and filed a paternity lawsuit right after the child was born on March 10, 2011. Almost two years later, the parties settled the case privately; Italiano has sole parental responsibility as the birth mother, Filipazzo legally adopted the baby, and Gerina is legally recognized as the baby’s father and was granted scheduled visitation with the baby.
Although both parties thought the initial verbal agreement was clear, the legal implications of fathering or mothering a child merit a detailed written agreement. Given the complexity and intricate nature of this ever-evolving area of the law, each party should consider seeking legal counsel to advise him or her of their rights and the applicable law.