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Miami-Dade circuit judge OK's plan for gay man, lesbian couple to be on daughter's birth certificate

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, SROTHAUS@MIAMIHERALD.COM

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."

Emma was born March 10, 2011. “The paternity lawsuit was filed right after the birth of the child,” Begin said.

The three parents feuded in court for nearly two years. A trial was set for Jan. 31, 2013.

A week before trial, Gerina, Italiano, Filippazzo and their attorneys settled the case privately.

Before posing for photos with the three parents and Emma, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Antonio Marin approved the settlement and the court adoption clerk submitted paperwork for Emma’s new birth certificate:

Birth mother Italiano, a retail saleswoman, received “sole parental responsibility,” Begin said.

Filippazzo, a financial services professional, legally adopted Emma.

The state recognized Gerina as Emma’s father and he was granted time with her. For the next two years, he can visit Emma twice a week; after she turns 4, overnight visitations will be discussed. All visits must be pre-arranged and at the mothers' discretion.

“The mothers are in charge. I’m just going to spend time with her. They are the parents,” Gerina said.

Along with having all decision-making responsibilities, the mothers will support Emma.

Begin won’t say exactly how much the three parents spent on legal fees. “All of the parties involved in this could have funded this little girl’s college tuition, and paid their attorneys instead,” she said. “One-tenth of that would have been what it cost to handle this properly.”

Miami Beach attorney Elizabeth Schwartz, who specializes in alternative families, said all this expense and family drama could have been avoided if the prospective parents had hired lawyers from the very start.

“This messy situation is too common, these undefined relationships where you’re leaving it up to a judge to decide whether he’s a donor or a father,” Schwartz said. “Ideally, you would have created a legal document that would define everyone’s parental rights and clearly articulate the nature of everyone’s relationship to the child. They can have all the conversations they want, but once that little child is born, all bets are off.”

Begin agrees. “All parties should go to an attorney versed in this area of law, because it is a unique area of law. Make sure it’s reduced to a written agreement with all the formalities,” she said. “Please don’t pull things off the Internet and play your own attorney. And just because a document is legally produced in one state, doesn’t mean that it’s legally valid in Florida.”

Gerina said he and the other parents have learned their lesson. Good thing. They already are talking about giving Emma a baby brother or sister.

Next time, Begin warned the three, work out the details before anyone gets pregnant.

“God forbid you don’t put together a written agreement,” she told them, “I’ll knock on your door and slap you all.”

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Sick! It's child abuse that the poor girl wont have a normal family to grow up in.

I was born into and grew up in a "normal" family. My highly respected father never bothered to hide his affairs, beat up on my mother and older sister, molested me, and turned me over to his friends for sex. My sister killed herself. Tell me, then, how exactly is this child's situation sick?

I agree with Susan. "Cliff" is just another example of the closed-minded, homophobic dummies that don't know what they are talking about. All of the gay people in the world came from "straight" families. I wonder if his parents (if he even knows who they are) instilled that trailer park brand of hateful venom in him.

THIS IS DISGUSTING!!!
I CAN BET ANYTHING, THAT THE LAWYER AND THE JUDGE ARE ALSO GAYS.
WE ARE GETTING INVADED BY MUSLIMS WITH THE INTENTION OF IMPOSING THEIR SHARIA IN OUR LONGTIME WAY OF LIVING AS WELL AS GAYS ARE TRYING TO CORRODE OUR SOCIETY LITTLE BY LITTLE WITH THEIR SICK AND ANTI-GOD BEHAVIORS...
IN 100 YEARS, OUR SOCIETY WILL 50% GAYS, 30% MUSLIMS, 15% STUPID AND 5% STRAIGHT!!!
THEN, THIS COUNTRY WON'T BE UNITED NO MORE. BECAUSE, EVENTUALLY, MUSLIMS WILL KILL ALL GAYS, TRANSVESTITES AND TRANSGENDERS.
THIS COUNTRY IS BECOMING THE SODOM AND GOMORRAH OF CENTURY XXI!!!
I HOPE WE CAN FOUND ANOTHER PLANET WHERE WE CAN LIVE BEFORE THIS ONE GET COMPLETE ROTTEN!!!

Poor kids gonna have 1 hell of a childhood, It's not natural, If you want to be gay that's fine but don't push an innocent child Into living your unnatural lifestyle.

Ignorant haters jumping into other peoples lives telling them what to do. God forbid someone take away your guns and god, hypocrites.

At the end of the F-ind day, I pay taxes. I was born here. I have my rights. I do NOT need your permission. I'm not getting into your church. I'm living my CIVIL life. Get over it.

It takes a village to raise a child. The more love, support and care she receives, better off she will be.

Yes, Ms. Otwell, many children today, tragically, grow up in seriously dysfunctional homes within a disordered world. But this "family" is dysfunctional from the very beginning. Its foundation is dysfunctional. Do we really want to add to the burdens children already must bear in this disordered world?

Susan is quite right to point out a wide range of what actually happens. This little girl will probably have a far better time with three loving people than an unwanted child being born in an unloving relationship or as a result of rape.

Gisele is right too. Communities accepting of their members provide a stable nurturing environment for children.

Dysfunction seems to garner definitions based on who utters the word.

And now there may be a sibling for the child. Better still.

Don't be so hasty to judge.

What a lucky little girl! So many people love her! How can this not be a beautiful thing?

Better to have a weird but loving family, than having no family at all... or worse, having a "normal" family that does not love the child.

I wish the best to this child.

Wow! This will make tea bagger heads explode.

Poor kid.

@Bo who said," I agree with Susan. "Cliff" is just another example of the closed-minded, homophobic dummies that don't know what they are talking about. All of the gay people in the world came from "straight" families. I wonder if his parents (if he even knows who they are) instilled that trailer park brand of hateful venom in him.
Posted by: Bo | February 07, 2013 at 05:59 AM "
Reply: I continue to be struck by how many people think that flinging the vacuous epithet “homophobe” is some sort of substitute for engaging in reasoned argument. To conclude your comment is nugatory, which means it has NO value.

This judge should be impeached for aiding the abuse of this child. He is also violating the law by forging a birth certificate and forcing a child into an unlawful situation. These people might get their moment of fame but it will soon be undone and the cild rescued from this abusive situation.

What has happened to a once respected hometown paper that it is running such offensive sensational stories. This absurd story and the others that appear in this sex column might be ok in the national enquirer or one of those magazines in the plastic wrap but they have no tbusiness in a respected hometown paper that might be read by children and families.

sad. The poor little girl.

You have got to be kidding me? Dade county version of Modern Family? Wow, whats next, normalization of pedophilia?

....and please, don't try to re-engineer me into thinking this is normal. Queers, like big tobacco, are working to reach out and expand their market by trying to convince us all this is not aberrant. I enjoy how defensive homos get when you attack the normalcy, i don't care about morality, of their behavior. they all tell you your homophobic... there's a reason for the metaphor "don't drop the soap in the shower." And, something else i have always wondered... who gets on top? LOL

This is just a friendly reminder that nearly half of gay men report having a thousand or more sex partners.

lets follow the life of that child,and the 3 persons who got him and the attorney and the judge,i hope everything will be ok

I think it's great that this little girl will know who her biological father is, and will get to have a relationship with him. She needs both male and female role models who will treat her with love and respect in her life. The mothers should accept this with an open heart.


I wish that what this other poster said could be true: "Better to have a weird but loving family, than having no family at all... or worse, having a "normal" family that does not love the child.

I wish the best to this child."

But I kmow that it can't. Mom & Pop families with 2.5 kids, dog, and an SUV don't always work -- we know that -- but they have the chance to work. The are normal and kids need normalcy when they are growing up.

This is cruel for the child. Before you call me a "hater", look up the world-wide statistics that are now becoming available about children brought up in these situations. The years have passed, they are now adults, and the results of these "human experiments" are not good.

Sodom and Gomorrah. Frightening.

What is sickest about this is that the laws have allowed adults to play with a child's life.

very sad and they are unpleasant family AND Not good idea to look over the child.

You Haters need to STFU! All children need is Love,Understanding and CARING....period! Children LEARN HATE,Bigotry and Discrimination from ADULTS!!!!!!!!!

This child is very very lucky! Most children are lucky to have one loving, caring parent. This little girl has three!!!

Good for them. Look.... three people who wanted to have a child. Unlike some families today or some teenage knocked up in the back of a Toyota.

Impeach this fraud of a judge now and save this poor child from the life of trauma and abuse he has sentenced the child to. This judge is making a mockery of our states child protection system and violating the laws against adoption by these admitted homosexuals. These people should be subject to the sex offender laws and not allowed near the child and prosecuted under our sodomy laws for their admitted participation in this activity.

wow!! There is so much hate here that I don't know where to start, but will begin with Arthur, who obviously has little to no education and even less understanding of etiquette and manners.
As to the supportive posts, I have to agree with one major point that has been made, the girl is very fortunate to have three people in the world who love her and want the best for her. it remains, of course, to be seen how this will all work out in the end, but for now, good luck and God bless her and all three of her Parents.
note: www.iespell.com is great for checking for typos in posts.

It takes *two* people for a child to be begotten, speaking in terms of human nature, basic biology, and common sense. Therefore, it is the natural thing to have two parents to take care of you and raise you: not one, not three, not four.

If "the girl is very fortunate to have three people in the world who love her", then might as well have 5 or 10 parents, since it seems the logic here is "the more the merrier" rather than "the natural and good, the better."

Studies have shown that children in heterosexual households of two parents are better off than those of homosexual households of two (or one, or more) or divorced parents.

How about actually caring about the kids, their welfare, and looking at science and human nature?

Three parents, all of them homosexual, is by no means a good setting for the child - yes, there is worse, like child abuse, etc., but this does not make it better. It's inherently unnatural.

Oh, surely a lot of lesbians and gays are overwhelmed with joy for this. This is such a good news to them since they really want to be involved in the child's life, and one of such in papers.

These are the dumbest lesbians I've ever seen. And I'm a lesbian.
The guy must've quickly thought of a way to become a parent because he himself
Won't have one naturally. They're all stupid if you ask me. But I don't understand how a single judge can over rule a state law.

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