AN INTERVIEW WITH FOUNDER GENA JAFFE.
At Connecting Rainbows, you have made it your mission to connect LGBTQ+ families with valuable resources, attorneys, and fertility specialists all over the US and Canada to make it easy to start, expand, and protect families. Can you share how this mission came to be? How did you discover the need and why did you decide to take it into your own hands?
My wife and I did reciprocal IVF for both of our kids - her eggs and I carried. After we were pregnant, I learned that we could both go on the birth certificate but we both were not considered to be the legal parents of our kids. Ironically, my wife - the biological mom - had to adopt her own biological kids as the gestational mother is considered the legal parent where we delivered our babies. I shared our journey on social media and my blog, [which] led to a LOT of questions and people sharing that they spoke with an attorney in their state who said that the birth certificate was enough (that's false). So, I decided to start a business to provide legal and fertility resources to the LGBTQ+ community. I wanted to ensure that there were lawyers in every state who not only specialized in family formation but also were well versed in working with the gay + queer community. It really blended all of me - I'm a lawyer, we went through fertility, and the LGBTQ+ aspect.
What has been one of the greatest challenges you've had to overcome so far? How have you worked to overcome it?
When you're a new business, people don't always take you seriously. I also look really young, so I feel like that presents another hurdle. New startups have a chicken / egg issue. You need the web traffic to get the funding, but you need the funding to get the web traffic! So I've been doing as much as I can to get the word out organically. This is a free resource for the LGBTQ+ community and I always want it to be that way.
On the other side, what have been some of your happiest or proudest moments since launching Connecting Rainbows? What "fuels" you throughout it all?
It brings me pure joy. Seriously. I have two young kids and two other businesses, but this is my baby - my passion project. As I had mentioned, it really blends all of me and I feel so incredibly honored to be working for our community to provide such needed resources. Our community has been underserved and underrepresented for so long.
Based on your experience working with numerous LGBTQ+ families and expanding your own, what is the best piece of advice you'd offer to future LGBTQ+ families who don't know where/how to start?
Obviously visit connectingrainbows.org! haha. For us, we found an incredible community on Instagram of other lesbian couples who were going through fertility treatments. It was so nice having others to commiserate with over medications, ask questions, and just have support. It's an emotional process and if you haven't gone through it, it's hard to understand. Ultimately, find yourself a good clinic. Interview a few places. You're going to be spending a lot of time (and money!) there - so you want someone who can really be on your team.
In a world that often feels so divided, what is something you wish more people understood about LGBTQ+ families? We are the same as everyone else! We're a family full of love. And our children - they are SO BEYOND wanted. It's not usually easy for us to have kids or grow our families - we have to go through fertility, surrogacy, adoption, etc. so these children are so incredibly loved.
What could readers do today to be better allies for LGBTQ+ families?
Advocate for us. Fight against the bills that are trying to take away our rights. Talk to your children about how there are different types of families. They are the next generation and it's our job to raise our children with love and to be open minded.
What does the future of Connecting Rainbows look like to you?
I want this to be the go-to resource when someone wants to start, grow, or protect their family. Eventually, I would love to expand beyond North America so that we can provide resources to people all over the globe. I feel like it has changed so much from my original idea that I can't even imagine where it's going, and I'm excited for the ride!
When it's time for self care, what are your go-to activities, rituals, shows, podcasts, books, songs, etc.?
I'm a sucker for HGTV. I love just having a show on in the background where they take an old house and turn it into someone's dream home. For self-care, I love going on walks - especially by the water. I have always found such peace by the water and would LOVE to have a home on the water one day. When walking, I like to listen to personal development books. I used to read a lot more, but with two young kids and three businesses, I haven't really been making the time.
And lastly, happy pride month! Can you share what this month means to you and Connecting Rainbows? Do you have any plans to celebrate? (We love celebrating love over here!)
Thank you! June is the best month (also my birthday!). This will be the first Pride month for Connecting Rainbows as we just launched in February! I am doing a few collaborations with some brands and companies that are aligned with my work - so check us out on Instagram (@connectingrainbowsorg).
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