A family with two moms
By Jim Young
Ava and Jaidon have two moms. Theresa Volpe is “mommy” and her partner Mercedes Santos is “mama”.
They have been together for over 20 years. They met each other while working for the same publishing company in Chicago in 1992. Theresa says that Mercedes is the person she was meant to spend her life with, she just happens to be another woman.
In 2002, they decided to find an anonymous donor so they could have their own biological children. First came Ava, now a quiet and insightful 8-year-old talented musician, and then her brother Jaidon, an energetic and playful four year old.
Theresa and Mercedes are part of a lawsuit to get same-sex marriage legalized in Illinois. There are nine U.S. states that recognize same-sex marriage, and Illinois currently has legislation waiting to be voted on in the House after the Illinois State Senate approved a bill to legalize same-sex marriage on Valentine’s Day this year.
After Illinois legalized civil unions on June 1, 2011, Theresa and Mercedes were one of 30 couples who had their ceremony in Millennium Park, but felt it was just the first step to their ultimate goal – to be legally recognized as married.
Two years ago their son Jaidon was hospitalized. Theresa wasn’t allowed to see her son because the hospital did not have a policy for two mothers, and Mercedes was already in the room with him.
Asked if they felt they had become “activists” Theresa says, yes, maybe but they were doing this all for their children – they needed to know that these are their rights. Theresa and Mercedes wanted them to be a part of the process and to be treated fairly.
When preparing to testify before an Illinois Senate Executive Committee hearing, Theresa told Ava to be prepared that there was probably going to be people saying bad things about “families like ours”.
Although they may not meet some people’s definition of a traditional family, they are definitely a family.