The first baby of the new year in the Washington area was born at 12:01 a.m. yesterday in Fairfax.
The 4-pound, 12-ounce girl was born at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital to 33-year-old Helen Rubin, who moved to Maryland so that her domestic partner, 35-year-old Joanna Bare, could take advantage of the state’s more liberal laws on adoptions by homosexuals.
To legally share parental responsibility, the couple recently relocated to Bethesda from Fairfax County because Maryland offers second-parent adoptions. In Virginia, Miss Bare could adopt the child only if Miss Rubin gave up her parental rights.
“We are probably one of the first families in the world that had to talk to a lawyer before having a baby,” Miss Bare told a crowd of television and newspaper reporters gathered in the hospital lobby to see the baby, who was healthy despite being born 15 days early.
The couple chose to move to Montgomery County because it was close to Miss Rubin’s job in Silver Spring and Miss Bare’s job in Vienna. They could have moved anywhere in Maryland to take advantage of a second-parent adoption, they said.
Miss Bare, a management consultant, said they preferred to move to a state with laws that accommodate their lifestyle instead of fighting to change Virginia law.
“We are not interested in legal battles,” she said. “We are interested in having a family that works with two parents.”
Miss Bare said they would explain their lifestyle to the child when the time was right.
“Every child has questions about how they came into the world,” Miss Bare said. “We will answer those questions when she asks. We will tell her the truth.”
Miss Rubin was impregnated through artificial insemination. The sperm donor was a longtime family friend who surrendered his parental rights, Miss Rubin said.
The couple declined to identify the donor.
“We are not telling,” Miss Rubin said.
“He volunteered for this,” Miss Bare said. “He offered this to us.”
It was decided that Miss Rubin would carry the child because a medical condition prevented Miss Bare from being the birth mother, Miss Bare said.
“This child is going to have a traditional family,” Howard Rubin, the baby girl’s grandfather, said at the news conference. “She’ll have traditional grandparents on both sides, traditional aunts and uncles. This is our family.”
He said that he and his wife, Phyllis, who became grandparents for the first time yesterday, were experiencing all the emotions grandparents typically feel. “We are very proud, happy, excited,” he said. “Their relationship has nothing to do with being grandparents.”
The couple had not yet named the child yesterday evening. “We thought it was going to be a boy, so we agreed on a boy’s name,” said Miss Bare, who has been in a relationship with Miss Rubin for 12 years.
“It’s early, so we are not quite caught up on the name yet,” said Miss Rubin, a sign language interpreter who met Miss Bare when they both attended Carlton College in Northfield, Minn.
Miss Rubin, who was in labor for 15 hours, said she did not expect to have a New Year’s baby.
“I was hoping to be finished in 2002, but it didn’t happen,” she said.
The couple also hadn’t planned on the media attention that accompanies the year’s first birth, but they said they welcomed the opportunity to show that nontraditional families can function normally.
“We eventually decided it was time to go ahead and have kids, like everyone else would,” Miss Bare said. “Hopefully, we will be like every family.”
Miss Rubin said she and Miss Bare consider themselves “married,” but that they were prevented from entering a legal union. They could seek a civil union in Hawaii or Vermont, but the arrangement would not be recognized in other states, she said.
Mr. Rubin said he considered the relationship between his daughter and her partner to be permanent.
“They are committed to each other in the same way I am committed to my wife and my wife is committed to me,” Mr. Rubin said. “Helen couldn’t have a better partner to accompany her through life.”