In February 2006, Erica proposed during a surprise trip to Hocking Hills. Since their union isn’t recognized in Ohio, why get married? As Erica explained, “it felt like a natural progression of our relationship.” They assumed that things would eventually change here, but didn’t want to wait. Given their Jewish faith, the religious aspect was important to them. After their Columbus wedding in November 2006, they were visiting Jill’s family in California while same-sex marriage was legal so they got married there as well. They loved how casual it was with Jill in a sundress and Erica in khakis.
They agreed that the adoption process was complicated to navigate. They chose an unknown donor because they were fearful of the legalities surrounding adoption. Also for Erica, being “the other mother” was a threatening proposition. “It never bothered me not to have biological children. I always wanted to adopt,” Erica explains. “But I wanted to make sure the connection was secure.”
They chose California Cryo Bank because of its unique option to connect their child with the donor at age 18, if the child and the donor mutually consented to meeting. A donor was chosen in the spring of 2011. Jill and Erica each made a short list of their top donor picks and discovered they both had the same donor as first-choice. A friend suggested that they take advantage of their bank’s option to look at their prospective donors’ baby pictures. The resemblance of their chosen donor to Erica’s relatives was amazing. Insight was gained into the donor’s personality by listening to his voice and reading his writings. While their donor wasn’t “perfect,” in his own opinion, they liked that he didn’t have the best SAT scores for example. “He seemed like someone I would want to be friends with,” said Erica.
The conception process required five attempts over the eight months. Their third try was especially disappointing as it resulted in a miscarriage. “It was very disheartening when you go through all the effort,” Jill explains. “No one warned us how stressful it would be. It’s a whole other level of being with a partner, beyond marriage. It’s stressful financially and emotionally … everything is a big ‘if.’ Everything is based on ‘The Test.’ Plus you can’t get stressed, because then you’re less likely to get pregnant,” Jill said. The process involved waiting and disappointment. Every test meant cautious optimism until the first trimester mark.
The couple had no desire to find out the sex of their child until Jill’s grandmother was diagnosed with terminal esophageal cancer. As her time was short, they visited her in California and learned they would have a boy. Her grandmother then learned that the couple decided to name the baby after her late husband, Elias.
Their desire to have a natural birth wasn’t a possibility because Elias was breech. Elias Jack was delivered via C-section (a couple weeks early) on the morning of December 24, 2012. Shortly after Elias’ birth, the couple did the only thing that the State of Ohio allows to give Erica rights: a court issued co-parenting agreement. She can legally be only a co-guardian or co-custodian. She can’t claim tax credit, but she could sign him up for day care. The presiding judge was so elated to be a part of this process, that she insisted on taking a picture with them and exclaimed, “That made my whole day!”
With Elias here, Jill and Erica are settling into motherhood. “Even though the process was costly and stressful,” Jill explains, “now that he’s here, he was worth every dollar and every second.”