After tying the knot in 2017, Jess and her wife Abby decided soon after to pursue another dream – one that included winter memories of children on the ski slopes and racking up airline miles as they go on adventures together. Thus, began the process of creating the family they dreamed about.
As a same-sex couple, they required additional planning and investment to start their family. Jess struggled with fertility and getting pregnant for 18 months. Thankfully, Abby also had an opportunity, and she was able to get pregnant right away. Baby Wilder was welcomed into the world in 2020 and life as Jess and Abby knew, was changed forever.
While Abby is Wilder’s biological parent and Jess is listed as the same on the birth certificate, by law, Jess was not given equal parental rights as a biological. That led to them having to complete a stepparent adoption process for Wilder.
The road to adoption can be a hard one. Navigating through the process is timely, expensive, and stressful - especially for same-sex couples. Currently, in the United States there are only 13 states, plus Washington DC, that actually recognize non-gestational parents without adoption. Jess credits having a great family planning attorney to help them navigate the legal process and finding healthy ways, like exercise and meditation, to help cope with the stress. "Fertility is HARD. Parenting is HARD," says Jess. "The one thing we learned was to just go with our gut throughout the process and keep looking forward – you can’t pour yourself over every single decision."
“Emotionally, it has been a draining process for us to know just how underrepresented the LGBTQ+ community is in US federal and state legislature when it comes to family planning and adoption,” says Jess. “Knowing that you could end up in a situation where you wouldn't be able to make decisions for the wellbeing of your child or could be denied services to you or your child because of your sexual orientation is terrifying.”
"It’s been really wonderful to share the journey with my team at work. I am so appreciative of the family environment that we have at Comcast where I’ve felt like I have my own little army in my corner rooting for me and my family throughout every step of the journey."
Jess always felt that Comcast was a people-first company, but it hit home when Jess and Abby were able to lean into benefits that are inclusive of same-sex couples and families. “Even the intentional language used in our benefits policies make them inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community,” notes Jess. By taking advantage of the fertility and adoption assistance programs, Jess and Abby were able to offset many of the challenges they experienced and it “helped make their dreams of building a family a reality.”
Jess is happy to share Wilder and the family are now regulars on the slopes, but most importantly, her adoption was recently finalized in February 2021 and says, “My hope is that by sharing our story publicly and celebrating our parenthood that we may reach someone who is faced with a similar situation where we could share what we’ve learned.”