Chosen Family

Chosen Family

April 16, 2024

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Just a head’s up, this episode contains mentions of family planning and reproduction.

Kim Ceurstemont knew for certain she wanted to have kids.

“It was never really a question for me, that I would have kids,” she said. “I’ve always had a real love for kids, and I just enjoy the world of childhood. … I think I feel more alive when I’m around kids. Everything is more vibrant when I’m around kids.”

But Kim was in her mid-thirties. She had just walked away from a 4-year-long relationship and moved back to Toronto, where she grew up. She was in a deep depression. Life felt like it was spiraling out of control.

“It was the worst experience of my life, if I could be honest,” Kim said. “I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone because I really lost my bearings, and I was going downhill. That was really hard.

Dating wasn’t going well and as Kim watched her friends growing their families, she started to lose hope in her dream of having children. It was Kim’s friend, Sarah, who first brought up the idea of single parenthood. She said, “You know, you don’t necessarily need a traditional partner to become a parent. There is another option.”

“It wasn’t that I thought it was a bad idea, but I didn’t think that I was in a place to do that,” Kim said. “I thought, ‘my life is in shambles right now, and I don’t know that I can handle that.’ It felt just too risky.”

Then, another friend of Kim’s had kids on her own, and the idea started to take hold. After considering it privately for some time, she announced to her friends her decision to pursue motherhood, in a move that surprised her as much as it did them.

“It felt good,” she said. “It felt frightening, you know, because the doubts were still there. But at the same time, there was this sense of excitement and it felt like something I was needing, too. So, when I blurted it out it was like, a new chapter is here.”

This new chapter would be the first of many new experiences for Kim. Her life, her family, and her idea of home were going to change drastically.

Kim began the search for a sperm donor.

“Whether or not it’s totally rational, I had this recurring thought that I didn’t want to be the only person that wanted the baby in the world,” she said. “Having somebody else hear my reasons and my story and say it’s a good idea. You know, ‘let’s have this baby come into the world.’ That was really important to me.”

She didn’t want a co-parent, just someone who believed in what she was doing. After a year with a few prospects but no progress, a friend of Kim’s said she knew a guy.

Guilherme Figueiredo, or Gui for short, was from Brazil, in Toronto studying hospitality.

“So, I was in college one day, and a friend of mine approached me and asked me, like, do you want to be a donor?” Gui said. “And I was like, oh, why not? Like I’m willing to help someone. Yeah, let’s do it.”

Kim and Gui arranged a meeting in a coffeeshop downtown. The meeting was a success from the start. Both felt like the vibes were right and the conversation flowed easily. Kim thought Gui was gentle, polite, and a good listener. Gui said he felt like they had been friends forever.

But, most importantly, they were aligned on Gui’s role in Kim’s future family. She didn’t want a co-parent and he didn’t want to be a dad. But, he was still really excited about the idea of bringing a child into the world. Exactly what Kim had hoped for.

“As a gay man, especially in Brazil, I never thought about [having kids],” Gui said. “We don’t see many gay couples in Brazil having kids. I think it was important for me to see a new family format.”

For two years, Kim and Gui tried to get pregnant. Kim would get her hopes up, and each time she was disappointed. But Gui was an optimist, and Kim’s cheerleader. After the second year, Kim decided to try IVF. Gui was on board. So they went to appointments, filled out tons of paperwork and even went to therapy sessions together. They were friends, sort of, and they were more, sort of. It was a relationship unique to the two of them.

Speaking of relationships – Gui was in one, with his partner Jeremy. They lived together and were committed to building a life together.

“Yeah, so, it was pretty far into our relationship,” Jeremy said. “Gui is a very careful and quiet person in terms of sharing himself. It was just like, ‘Oh I might be having a baby with someone.’ And I was like ‘Oh, okay. Hi, that’s great. What is this? What’s going on? Tell me more about this.’ He told me and I was pretty shocked. But I was super excited.”

In fact, Gui said Jeremy may have been more excited than he was. Jeremy had thought a lot about having kids, actually. He comes from a close-knit family and loves the cheerful chaos that kids bring to a house.

“[I was] probably more excited than I should be given the more transactional nature of their exchange,” Jeremy said.

And so, after years of trying, with two sort-of friends in her corner, Kim finally got a positive pregnancy test. Gui gifted her a pair of baby booties to celebrate.

At that time, Kim was living in a rental house that wasn’t in great condition, with a landlord who wasn’t great either. Kim mentioned her pregnancy to the landlord, hoping to inspire a sense of urgency around some repairs she needed done – it didn’t go well.

“Her response was aggression,” Kim said. “She just went into kind of a bit of a rage and said that there were too many people in the house and one more person couldn’t live there. And she was going to consult her lawyer about having me evicted.

Kim knew there was no basis to have her evicted, but the conversation left her shaken. She had stayed in that place because it was affordable, but she knew she’d need a better place to raise a kid.

On February 19, 2023, Kim’s son Ollie was born. She texted Gui that she’d delivered her son. He and Jeremy couldn’t wait to see the baby, but they wanted to give Kim space to get settled. They waited two full weeks to meet Ollie. He was worth the wait. Gui called it “a great moment.” Jeremy was moved to tears.

Soon Kim had to go back to work. This was still during the pandemic, before most people were vaccinated. It was a scary time to need so much support. Kim asked friends to pitch in for child care, some agreed, but it wasn’t enough to cover all her time at work. She kept coming back to Gui and Jeremy. They had established clear boundaries on Gui’s role in Ollie’s life, but they had been keeping in touch and she eventually worked up the courage to ask for their help.

Once again, Gui was in and Jeremy was excited. Kim started bringing Ollie over to Gui and Jeremy’s on Fridays. They worked from home and traded off taking care of the baby. They loved it. They loved spending time with Ollie while still relinquishing all parental duties to Kim. Gui said he feels more like a “cool uncle” than Ollie’s dad.

In fact, when determining what Ollie would call Gui and Jeremy, they landed on “Titio,” meaning uncle in Portuguese. And then, one day, without thinking, Jeremy referred to the foursome as a family. It wasn’t the traditional unit, but it felt right.

“I don’t even know that he realized he said that,” Kim said. “But I felt really honored and excited that that’s how he was seeing us. I think I’m still getting used to that idea that we actually are a family.”

This past Christmas, Jeremy and Gui had Kim over for a party. At some point, the topic of housing came up. Kim was still renting from that miserable landlord but knew she couldn’t swing a purchase on her own. Someone floated the idea of them pooling their money to buy a place together. Initially, Kim took it as a joke, but the idea persisted after the party.

“A few days later, I called them, and I was like, ‘Were you guys at all serious when we were talking about possibly buying a home together?’” Kim said.

Jeremy was all in. Gui needed some convincing. It wasn’t the co-buying that had him nervous, just buying in general. But he couldn’t ignore the draw of being so close to Ollie and Kim.

Co-buying isn’t new, it’s a popular practice in markets like Toronto that are particularly tough for single buyers. There are even co-buying agencies that help navigate this type of purchase. Gui and Jeremy wanted to be close to the subway, Kim wanted a park nearby for Ollie. They all wanted a house with two separate units to offer privacy when they needed it. As they searched, they talked through how they would manage co-living. They knew it wouldn’t be easy, but they were committed to making it work.

A few months after that fateful Christmas party conversation, they found their home. Two separate apartments, one with the basement and ground floor, the other with the two upper floors and a rooftop deck. Kim preferred the downstairs; it made the most sense with a toddler. Gui and Jeremy said they’d be happy to switch units in the future should Kim ever decide that’s what she wanted. That was all Kim needed to hear to know this was the right home for this little chosen family.

In the summer of 2023, Kim, Ollie, Gui and Jeremy moved into their new home. And while they maintain separate apartments, their lives are very intertwined.

“If Kim wanted to go for dinner while Ollie is sleeping, we could have the baby monitor, leave the doors open and run down if he needed care,” Jeremy said. “I’m really excited for the Venn diagram of our lives to have more overlap.”

As for Kim?

“Gui and Jeremy are the jackpot for me. I can’t imagine doing this with anybody else,” she said. “It just feels like such a partnership. We’re so in sync.”

For more on this story, check out this episode of Home. Made. by Rocket Mortgage.

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Episode Transcript

STEPHANIE: Just a heads up, this episode contains mentions of family planning and reproduction. 

STEPHANIE: There was a point in Kim Ceurstemont’s life when it felt like she was falling in a downward spiral. Kim had just left a 4 year long relationship with a person she once thought she would marry. 

She had made the difficult decision to leave the home they shared together. She had left her job, and fallen into a deep depression. And she was living like a nomad, trying to figure out where she belonged.

KIM: It was the worst experience of my life, if I could be honest. Like, I, I wouldn't wish it upon anyone cuz I, I really lost my bearings and I was going downhill. Yeah, that was really hard.

STEPHANIE: But even in the worst of it, one thing remained clear.

KIM: It was never really a question for me, uh, that I would have kids. I've always had a real love for kids and I just enjoy the world of childhood. I love the way you can get lost in play together. I love their fascination with pretty much anything. I think I feel more alive when I'm around kids. Everything is more vibrant when I'm around kids.

STEPHANIE: Kim loves being around kids so much she’s even made it her profession. She’s a child psychologist. So when she found herself in her mid-thirties, without a partner, at a time when many of her friends were having children… it was really dark. 

KIM: Like every time I had to hear about a child being born, I just couldn't deal with it. I couldn't hear news like that. I had to withdraw. I just didn't know what else to do because the feelings were so intense. And, they would really throw me into a deeper darker place. I didn't wanna react that way. And yet still that's what was happening.

STEPHANIE: Kim decided to move back to Toronto, the city where she grew up. She got treatment for her depression. And she tried to date… but nothing stuck. She started to think that kids just might not be in the cards for her. 

STEPHANIE: Sometimes, Kim stayed up late at night chatting with her best friend, Sarah, who has three children. In their talks, Sarah kept gently bringing up the idea of single parenthood. She said to Kim, “You know, you don’t necessarily need a traditional partner to become a parent. There is another option.” 

KIM: It wasn't that I thought it was a bad idea, but I didn't think that I was in a place to do that. You know? I thought my life is in shambles right now, and I don't know that I can handle that. It felt just like too risky.

STEPHANIE: But then Kim watched another friend have kids on her own, and she thought, “Huh, maybe this is possible.”

KIM: I really respected what she was doing and I was really excited for her.

STEPHANIE: Kim didn’t tell anyone she was considering it, until one night, when she went out dancing with a group of girlfriends. Afterwards, as they were grabbing a bite in a restaurant, one of her friends confided that she was getting a divorce. Kim thought her friend was brave for telling everyone. 

KIM: And it just kind of stirred something in me. And then after we spoke about that for a while, I said, you know, I have something to say too, and I just said that I'm making the decision to be a parent on my own. And I'm telling you this tonight and I'm gonna pursue it.

STEPHANIE: How did it feel to say it out?

KIM: Mm. It felt good. It felt frightening, you know, cause the doubts were still there. But at the same time, there was like, there was this sense of excitement and it felt like something I was needing, too. And so when I blurted it out it was like, a new chapter is here.

STEPHANIE: That announcement nearly surprised her as much as it did her friends. But what she didn’t know then was how this decision would lead to even bigger surprises. Surprises that would turn strangers into family, and reframe where she called home. 

STEPHANIE: This is Home. Made. An original podcast by Rocket Mortgage about the meaning of homes, and what we can learn about ourselves in them. I’m Stephanie Foo. In this episode: the family you choose.

STEPHANIE: Once Kim made the decision to become a single parent, she knew she was embarking on a difficult path that could be long, expensive, and didn’t have any guarantee of success. As Kim weighed the pros and cons of becoming a single mother by choice, one worry was - who would help?

KIM:  I spent a lot of nights like googling “single mothers in Toronto” and “best place for single mothers to live” and all sorts of things.

STEPHANIE: And what were you finding?

Kim: Not much.

Kim’s first big challenge was finding a donor. From the get-go, Kim knew she didn’t want anonymous sperm. She wasn’t looking for a co-parent but she wanted a donor who would believe in what she was doing. 

KIM: Whether or not it's totally rational, I had this recurring thought that I didn't wanna be the only person that wanted the baby in the world. And for me, having somebody else hear my reasons and my story, and say, it's a good idea. You know, let's have this baby come into the world. Like that was really important to me.

STEPHANIE: So Kim began the search for a donor. A friend volunteered, and she was hopeful. But it got complicated. At a certain point, she realized if she wanted to preserve the friendship, they had to stop working on the pregnancy together.

Next, she found a donor online. She tried with his sperm a number of times, but didn’t conceive. In the end, the donor turned out to be infertile. 

Months went by. The whole time, Kim monitored her ovulation cycles, took off work to go to the fertility clinic for blood work, and uterus and egg quality assessments.

KIM: It quickly becomes just like this endless stream of appointments that become kind of a blur.

STEPHANIE: After a year without any progress, Kim felt kind of deflated. But one day, a friend came to her with a proposition… matchmaker style.

KIM: She said, I have someone. I mentioned it to him and he said he'd like to meet you. And… right now just saying that I get like tingles.

GUI: So I was in college one day--and a friend of mine approached me and asked me, like, do you wanna be a donor? 

STEPHANIE: That’s Guilherme Figueiredo (Gui). He’s from Brazil, but is in Toronto studying hospitality. Before hearing about Kim, he had never even thought about being a sperm donor.

GUI: And I was like, oh, why not? Like, I'm willing to help someone. Yeah, yeah, let's do it. 

STEPHANIE: So he and Kim arranged a meeting in a coffee shop downtown. A kind of preconception meet cute. 

KIM: I remember walking in there and seeing him and he was just, looked like a, like a good guy. He had a good vibe about him. He was really polite and respectful, like right off the bat.

GUI: We connect right away, we vibed right away. 

KIM: And we just, uh, sat down together in the coffee shop. And it was a very smooth conversation.  

STEPHANIE: They bonded over the fact that Kim played Brazilian music and loves Brazilian culture.

GUI: It felt like we were friends for so long.

STEPHANIE: Kim loved that Gui was gentle, and a good listener.

KIM: Yeah, he was easy to talk to.

GUI: After that I was so happy to help her in her dream to be a mom, and I felt that she would be a great mom.

STEPHANIE: In that very first chat, Kim laid out some ground rules.

KIM: His role would be to be the donor, but I would be the only parent. He would be  relinquishing his right to paternity, and I would then relinquish my right to ask him for child support or anything considered to be legally binding. You know, just to be clear about our expectations and the process. That's kind of what I laid out.

STEPHANIE: Gui was good with that. And excited about the idea of bringing a child into the world. The exact kind of donor Kim had hoped for.

STEPHANIE: Before you met Kim, did you ever want to be a parent? Is that something that was on your mind?

GUI: As a gay man, especially in Brazil, I never thought about that. We don't see many gay couples in Brazil having kids. I think it was important for me to see a new family format. 

STEPHANIE: Kim sent Gui an 11-page legal agreement, and he signed. Then they began trying.

GUI:  At first we try, uh, they call “Turkey-something”.

STEPHANIE: Turkey baster (laugh)

GUI: Baster. Yeah. And, didn't work. Didn't work.

STEPHANIE: They tried for a year. Kim would get her hopes up, and then they would fall. But through it all, Gui was an optimist. They weren’t friends exactly, but Gui  became her cheerleader.

KIM: He had this positivity that he would always voice to me. And I remember I would always say like, “well I'm glad you're feeling that way.” He would be like, “yes, it's gonna work out Kim, I've got no, no doubts.” And he was always been like that.

STEPHANIE: After two years trying to get pregnant, Kim decided to do IVF. She and Gui went to what felt like a million medical appointments, filled out reams of paperwork. They were even required to attend therapy together. The pandemic then delayed the procedure by months and months. But finally…

KIM:  A big moment was when I first got the positive pregnancy test. 

STEPHANIE: She called Gui and shared the news. Kim tried to be chill, tempering her expectations, knowing that nothing was guaranteed. Gui suggested they meet up again to chat. 

GUI: I wanted to give her a little gift to support her for being a single mom and want to have a baby and following her dreams, yeah. That was important to me.

KIM: But when I got to the coffee shop, he was there and he had a little present for me. And, uh--

 

STEPHANIE: What was it?

KIM: It was, uh, a pair of baby booties, like white baby booties. ​​

STEPHANIE: I love that. That’s so cute.

KIM: It was really unexpected and very sweet.

STEPHANIE: How did you meet Gui?

JEREMY: So, oh my God. Okay. Unedited? Ummm… 

STEPHANIE: Jeremy Vandermeij is Gui’s partner.

JEREMY: We were at a queer dance party that my friend was the DJ of, and Gui walked in and I was like, “Whoa, who's that guy?” 

GUI: And I was at this party… he is really tall, so yeah, I look at him and he ask me for a cigarette. And, I thought, oh, okay, that's cute.

STEPHANIE: That night, they kissed. And then… Gui ghosted Jeremy. For a month! He says he was busy. But Jeremy pursued, and they started dating. It got serious quickly. They moved in together and committed to building a life.

STEPHANIE: So when did he first tell you about what he and Kim were doing?

JEREMY: Yeah, so it was pretty far into our relationship. Gui is a very careful and quiet person in terms of sharing himself. It was just like, “Oh, I might be having a baby with someone.” And I was, “Oh, okay. Hi, that's great. What's, what is this? What's going on? Tell me more about this.” He told me and I was pretty shocked. But I was super excited.

GUI: I think he got more excited than me.

JEREMY:  Probably more excited than I should be given the kind of more transactional nature of their exchange. 

STEPHANIE: Unlike Gui, Jeremy had actually thought a lot about having children. He comes from a close knit family, and he loves the cheerful chaos that kids bring to a house. 

JEREMY: Children remind me of that part of myself that's free and present and is just living. without judgment. They're just experiencing life as it is, and I think that's beautiful.

STEPHANIE: When Kim got pregnant, she lived in a rental house that wasn’t in great condition. One day she woke up and noticed a crack in the ceiling right above her bed. She called her landlady and asked her to repair it. In that conversation she mentioned she was pregnant – in the hopes that it might inspire a sense of urgency about the repair. 

KIM: But her response was, aggression. She just went into kind of a bit of a rage and said that there were too many people in the house, and one more person couldn't live there. And she was gonna consult her lawyer about having me evicted.

STEPHANIE: Oh god. 

Kim: I knew that there was no basis to be evicted, but it still was, uh, it still had an impact. It shook me up, you know, to have like

STEPHANIE: Uhhuh, of course.

KIM: So awful. It was always a difficult living situation because of the landlady. And I always knew that eventually I would have to leave.

STEPHANIE: What kept Kim in that crappy apartment – and we’ve all been there –  was that it was affordable. But since she was about to be a mom, she knew that eventually she’d have to find a better place to raise her kid. Where she’d move to, and how she’d pay for it - those were questions she couldn’t answer for now. 

STEPHANIE: On February 19, 2021, Kim’s son, Ollie was born. 

Kim: I couldn't get over just like how, how perfect he looked. I, I don't even like that word, but everything about him just looked like so beautifully crafted. It felt like the world stopped for a moment.

STEPHANIE: Kim texted Gui that she’d delivered her son. He immediately wanted to see that baby. But he wanted to give her some space to get settled. Let her get used to being a mom. So he and Jeremy waited a full two weeks. 

GUI: I didn't know what I, I would feel when I first meet that newborn, that baby. It's scary. But it was a great moment.

JEREMY: I was super emotional. I cry at the drop of a dime. So I was probably crying and saying, I love you to my partner a lot. And he was probably just, like, looking at me. Um, I just felt so happy that he and I and Kim and Ollie were kind of together in that moment. 

STEPHANIE: Ollie was born during the pandemic, before most people had been vaccinated. It was a difficult time for everyone – especially a new parent like Kim. People were isolating and staying away – at exactly the time she needed support the most. 

And, eventually, Kim had to go back to work. She started asking friends if they could pitch in with childcare. Some agreed to help. But, it wasn't enough to cover all the times she needed backup. 

Kim and Gui had signed a contract establishing clear boundaries around Gui’s role in Ollie’s life… but they’d been keeping in touch. And it felt like, maybe, it’d be okay to ask Gui and Jeremy if they could help a little bit.

KIM: It felt frightening. And I was, I was nervous about it. I, I just didn't want them to, um, feel pressured or uneasy.

STEPHANIE: When she asked, what was the first thing that went through your head?

JEREMY: I was like, yes. I was like someone let a dog that's really excited to see a child off a leash. You know? I was like, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. 

STEPHANIE: Kim started bringing Ollie over to Gui and Jeremy’s place on Fridays.  They worked from home, and traded off taking care of the baby. They loved it. 

JEREMY: And were exhausted by the end of it. And we're like, we don't know how she does it. Kim never complains about how hard it is to raise a child, like as an individual, but it's not easy.

GUI: it's scary to take care of a child. Of course. I had zero experience. I never had, like, change a diaper in my life, so I had to learn all this process. But that worked great.

STEPHANIE: Nice. So you were kind of a natural.

GUI: I think it was natural. Yeah. I still ask Jeremy to change the diaper. I don’t do that.

STEPHANIE: Do you feel like a parent?

GUI: I, I don't feel, I don't feel like a parent. I don't make decisions about his life. 

STEPHANIE: Do you ever feel like you want to?

GUI: I think I like the way it is. I get, like, the best part. He comes, and we play. I'm more like the cool uncle that make him laugh hard. Yeah. It's great the way it is. 

STEPHANIE: Gui and Jeremy were definitely not Ollie’s dads. But there was no denying that a special relationship was evolving. 

GUI: Yeah. And even now when I look at him like, and I can see my face on like, uh, it's  oh, that's me when I was a baby. It’s, yeah, it's scary.

STEPHANIE: Scary?

GUI: Yeah, yesterday we met and he was walking towards me and oh my gosh, that's me. He has like the same, he feels like the same, or the way he sleeps, he's the same.

STEPHANIE: Kim felt she had to have a conversation with the men about how to label this relationship. Kim liked the idea of using a word in Portuguese, “Titio”. It means uncle.

KIM: And so I asked Gui, what do you think about being Titio Gui? And, and he said he liked that. So now, Ollie knows Gui and Jeremy is Titio Gui and Titio Mimi. He can't say Jeremy, so he says Mimi.

STEPHANIE: One day, Jeremy started to use a word of his own. It was an accident. He just referred to their unit as a family.

GUI: The first time he said that I look at Kim and she was fine, and I, okay. I guess we are family. 

KIM: I don't even know that he realized he said that, but I felt really honored and, uh, excited that that's how he was seeing us. I think that I'm still getting used to that idea that we actually are a family.

STEPHANIE: Gui and Jeremy had been feeling for a while like they were family with Kim and Ollie, but they didn’t want to overstep their bounds. 

JEREMY: And when Kim said it, I was like crying, you know, cause I was so happy to hear her say the same thing that I had been feeling that we're this new little family.

STEPHANIE: This past Christmas, Jeremy and Gui invited Kim over to their home for a little party. The conversation gravitated towards housing. Kim mentioned that she’d been looking for a house – she was still in that stressful apartment with the crack over her bed, and the awful landlady. But financially, she couldn’t swing a purchase as a single mom. 

KIM: I remember us like all shaking our heads at  just how impossible it is to try to, to own something. I remember everyone just being like, we're all screwed. 

STEPHANIE: Somebody at the party floated an idea. 

KIM: Why don't we all buy a place together? And like, how we could pool our money and what it could look like. 

STEPHANIE: Kim took it as a joke. A bit of wishful thinking nobody really took seriously.

KIM: There was like, a very casual kind of feel about it, you know?

STEPHANIE:  But after she left, the idea persisted in her head. 

Buying a house with someone you're not related to is a thing. Total strangers will buy houses together to live in. It's called "co-buying."

Now Kim was thinking, maybe this could work. Maybe Gui and Jeremy would actually consider this.

KIM: A few days later I called them and I was like, were you guys at all serious when we were talking about possibly buying a home together? 

JEREMY:  And then we were like, yes. 

 

STEPHANIE: Jeremy was all in. As for Gui… he needed to take a moment. 

GUI: So Jeremy is all about passion. I am about money. So I felt sick of my stomach for a month. Literally. Sick.

STEPHANIE: Sick about whether he could afford it. But then again, he loved the idea of sharing a home with Ollie and Kim. 

GUI: It's the best part, to be close to him and take care of him. 

STEPHANIE: So soon enough, he got on board.

STEPHANIE: It didn’t take long for the house search to begin. It didn’t take long for differences to bubble up too. Gui and Jeremy wanted to be near the subway. Kim wanted to be near the park where she could walk with Ollie. They signed up with a co-buying agency to help them think it through. 

They decided to look for a house with two separate units. It would give them privacy when they needed it. But that narrowed the options. 

KIM: It's hard to find a home that's split very evenly if you're gonna be living in two spaces.

STEPHANIE: And throughout the search, they talked about how they would manage co-living together. This was a big step for this little chosen family. And they knew it wouldn’t be all wine and roses. 

GUI: Of course. People are gonna get annoyed. I'm gonna get annoyed. Kim is gonna get annoyed. 

STEPHANIE: But they trusted each other to be able to work out the kinks.

GUI: We are very good at speaking out our needs and seeing what we want and what we don't want.

KIM: If there is a conflict or something unanticipated happens, we will be able to work through it respectfully. Sometimes you feel like you can take the risk. But I think we built trust over the past two years. Trust in, in a very unique and intimate situation where a baby is involved. It's a special kind of trust. 

STEPHANIE: And then, this spring, they found it. It had two separate apartments. One had the basement and ground floor - with access to the back yard. The other took over the upper two floors, and had a rooftop deck. 

The upper apartment was a little nicer, but Kim preferred the downstairs -- fewer stairs to manage with a toddler in tow. What sealed the deal for Kim is when Gui and Jeremy told her that, should she ever need or want to, they’d be happy to switch units in the future. That small gesture confirmed what she felt about this decision they’d made together. 

KIM: It’s that spirit of looking out for each other and making sure that, everyone feels comfortable and being able and being willing to make sacrifices. 

KIM: Ooh, it looks so nice. It looks like a real place now. 

JEREMY: I know. 

KIM: Oh, 

JEREMY: We're a little tired from lifting, but 

GUI: it's almost done. 

KIM: It's a really a home here now. 

GUI: Yeah. 

KIM: Oh, that's all your stuff. Everything too. 

STEPHANIE: In the summer of 2023, Kim, Gui and Jeremy -- along with little Ollie -- moved into their new home. 

KIM: Gui and Jeremy are the jackpot for me. I can't imagine doing this with anybody else.  It just feels like such a partnership. We're so in sync. 

GUI: On Sundays we can have lunch together, like a huge table in the backyard. We know more, gay and lesbian couples who have kids as well. So I'd love to have everybody together.

STEPHANIE: And while having separate living units was important to everyone, no one is interested in living separate lives.

JEREMY: If Kim wanted to go for dinner while Ollie was sleeping, we could have the baby monitor leave the doors open and run down if he needed care. I'm really excited for the Venn diagram of our lives to have more overlap. 

STEPHANIE: You don't mind it. The sort of like the noise and the hustle and the bustle.

JEREMY: I love the commotion of having a family around me. And it doesn't have to look like, you know, the traditional family, obviously.

KIM: Where is he? Do you see him? Was he there? Go get him. Go get him. 

GUI: Oh! You Got Me!

OLLIE: Mama.

KIM: Oh, mama's turn? Okay. 

STEPHANIE: This October, Kim is expecting her second child. Gui is once again the donor. Kim said that when she started on the journey of becoming a parent a few years ago, she never dreamed she would build this kind of family.

STEPHANIE: So if I were to ask you 10 years ago what home meant to you, what would you have said?

KIM: I didn't allow myself to, to dream of anything like this. I think I probably would have said love, like a nest, like to have a safe, loving place.

GUI: What is mama? 

JEREMY: Where is she? 

STEPHANIE: Do you think that you've gotten that?

KIM: Yeah. I do. Yeah.

GUI: She left. I don't know

KIM: Did you find me?

OLLIE: (Giggling)


STEPHANIE: You’ve been listening to Home. Made. by Rocket Mortgage. This episode was written by Sarah Kate Kramer. My name is Stephanie Foo. You can reach us at rocketmortgage.com/homemade, or find a link in the show notes to this episode.

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