VIDEO: “New Deep South” Shows Adorable Mississippi Lesbian Couple Using Instagram To Adopt

Women-founded new media startup The Front has released the first episode of their “New Deep South” series, which aims to “explore the complex queer culture operating out of… spots of extreme social conservatism at a time of national change in attitudes towards the queer community.” The series was created by Lauren Cioffi and Rosie Haber and executive produced by The Front’s founder, Thalia Mavros.

The premiere episode tells the story of 18-year-old Keeta and 22-year-old Toni (a police officer), a madly-in-love young couple who have been together for under a year, are engaged, and are ready to have children — even if that means adopting from Instagram followers. This idea might seem bizarre to heterosexual couples, but when you consider the costs of adopting through an agency or trying to get pregnant using in vitro fertilization, it’s really not the worst idea.

Unfortunately, adoption might not be open to these two regardless. Mississippi is the only state that still prohibits same-sex couples from adopting children — a ruling that will be questioned this week in federal court. Thalia Mavros, the executive producer of New Deep South, hopes that her series will draw attention to those issues and others impacting LGBTQ youth:

…it definitely makes us think about the resources we’re allocating towards supporting queer youth. Marriage is a step in the right direction (although I have my personal issues with the institution), but it doesn’t solve the problem, especially in parts of the country where LGBT acceptance is still a hard sell. Prejudices run deep; there are still kids that are being thrown out by their parents and end up confused, alone and homeless.

Indeed, one of the most interesting parts of the episode are when Toni and Keeta talk about the different reactions their families had to their being gay.

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Undoubtedly, this series will have to walk a careful line between revelation and exploitation as it seeks to be compelling and entertaining while not sensationalizing the subjects of its stories. Marvos told The Huffington Post:

We love to pinpoint areas of tension in the world and tell unique stories in a way that humanizes the issues while exposing the forces that are shaping them. In this case, the American South was a strong backdrop for examining the tangled and complex natures of sexual identity, family and legacy for queer youth in a time of transition and national change.

So, what do you think of the episode?

Riese is the 37-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2753 articles for us.

20 Comments

  1. If I was placing a child for adoption, I don’t think I would place them with an 18-year-old and 22-year-old couple regardless of sexuality. If this was a straight couple I would tell them they’re being dumb and rushing into things, and I think this couple is too (just from reading the description, I haven’t watched the video yet).

    • i mean, the point of the post was for you to watch the video and then think about what it means to live in a state where it isn’t legal for you to adopt a child and then consider the lengths you’d go to to create a family with the person you loved, especially when you’re not flush with cash and privilege. the point isn’t whether or not you think this specific 18 and 22 yr old are capable of raising a child.

      i’d also super duper caution against making sweeping statements like calling people “dumb” when you literally haven’t watched a single moment of their reality, nor do you know them personally.

      also for the ultimate record, i was 17 when i had my first child and the apartment i raised him in with my 20 yr old husband wasn’t much nicer or larger than the one these two are living in, and i did an amazing job. billions of “dumb”-seeming people under 25 give birth to and/or raise children every single day on this glorious planet. isn’t it neat!

      • I did watch the video. I’m not saying young people can’t be good parents– I think young parents need more support. It just seems like they’re rushing into things.

      • also, isn’t it cool, how *I* stated that *I* probably wouldn’t personally do something, but didn’t say NO EVER should place their child with a young couple? neato!

        • no you’re right, you didn’t say that on one should ever place their child with a young couple. your opinion seemed to be stated in a way that implied that you would judge someone harshly if they did, though, which i took personally to be honest! and in thinking of the other people in my position who might also take that personally, i wanted to give the other side of that coin. you were in fact judging this couple harshly without even taking the time to watch their story and think of it in broader terms than just their ages and how long they’ve known each other.

          but anyway it was probably weird and jarring to have two people reply to you and one of them be me yelling about how i was a teen mom, so i apologize for being jarring! this was neato, sarah. THE WORLD IS A GREAT TAPESTRY and i’m glad we’re all here.

        • You don’t need to be a misogynist or a judgmental person to see that this couple should really think twice before having children.

          They have been together less than a year, and one of them is still a teenager. Raising a child is a HUGE responsibility – it requires the commitment of a signficicant percentage of your time and money for minimum of 18 years, not to mention the tens of thousands of dollars you need to save up if you want to help pay for college and graduate school. You also need to be prepared for the fact that your child may have special needs, and may require continued care for the rest of their life.

          Toni is in her twenties with an established career. Although 22 is still quite young to start a family, if she was with another similarly situated woman then maybe they’d be ready. But her partner Keeta is only 18 years old – she just became an adult this year, doesn’t appear to have a career of her own, and has no clear means of supporting herself and a child should the relationship end (which, statistically speaking, it probably will). She seems like a smart, kind, loving person who will probably make an excellent mother, but she will make her life much harder if she chooses to become a mother before her adult life is more established.

          I’m 27 now – when I think back to myself and my friends at 18 years old, we were practically kids. That’s not to say that young people can’t be amazing parents – of course they can. I know someone who gave birth at 17 and you couldn’t ask for a better parent or a better role model. But it is an incredibly difficult path to take, and one that requires a level of support that often isn’t available. I have zero contempt for young parents, and I believe that we have an obligation as a society to make sure that every parent has the resources they need to succesfully raise their children. You can understand that teens can make good parents, and that we should support all parents, and still believe that teen parenthood isn’t something we should encourage.

    • As someone who’s been through the complexity of the adoption process, just even seeing the term “instababy” at the top of the video makes me cringe. This is not to say social media doesn’t have any conceivable part to play in the adoption screening process (I know the Internet played a key role in me exploring adoption during the 1990s and finding services and support) but to make it look as if young people can just Instagram themselves up a child is seriously messed up and clueless.

      It never ceases to amaze me how media (including some very progressive media) loves to jump on the “adoption is so messed up” bandwagon. The Rosie O’Donnell situation with one of her daughters is just the most recent example. Little attempt is ever made to actually explore the realities of adoption, being an adoptee or the real complexities of adoptive parenting. It’s all either Hallmark Card “I’m finally a mommy” sentiments or babies being bought and sold as if they were used cars. I appreciate the tough situation this couple finds themselves in, but that doesn’t mean adoption needs to be treated in such a flip manner in exploring their story.

      • As an adoptee, I appreciate this comment.

        I think young moms are great. But I also know that one of the stories told to young women is that they should consider relinquishing their child for adoption because of their age. Certainly that’s not always the case, but it’s certainly one of the big stories that I hear. For that reason, I can’t imagine either a young first mother choosing a teen adoptive mother, and I can’t imagine an older first mother choosing a teen, either. If that makes sense.

        I think adoption is complex, but I get all triggery when I see campaigns on social media for funding adoptions. Makes it seem like children are commodities or accessories.

  2. Never in a million years would I have thought of adopting a baby through instagram followers, but good for them for being creative and trying to find a way to make their dreams come true.

  3. If I had just seen the episode without reading the context you provided, I would have been stoked (and I did really enjoy it). But after reading all about how they would not legally be allowed to adopt a child, watching the episode where that fact wasn’t mentioned once even though adoption came up multiple times, was a bit weird and confusing. Like, is that possibly the reason the first bio-mom ghosted? Anyway, I don’t live in the US and so find stories of Americans not living in LA or NYC or SF really interesting, especially in the South, where the climate (and thus architecture, fashion, etc) is so different from my Canadian experience.

    Thanks for sharing this — I’m off to see what else The Front has to offer : )

    • Yeah it’s funny because I watched the video void of context and only read about the adoption situation in Mississippi afterwards. So I was like waittttt why did that not come up during the episode…? It reminded me of that episode of the real l word when they go to Vegas and are gonna get married and then are like wait same-sex marriage isn’t legal here? Oh

  4. While I get the point that they’re trying to make, that Mississippi heavily discriminates against gay couples in the realm of adoption, this really was not the route they should have taken to show that. Even in a state that allowed gay couples to adopt, this couple would not be able to pass a homestudy for multiple, valid reasons. And this couple very clearly does not understand how adoption works…discussing how “all the contracts” would be “taken care of” BEFORE the baby was born so that when it was born, “it’d be ours right away.” Not how that works, or should work. Granted, unofficial adoptions happen all the time, particularly in communities of color (including in my own family), but those can very much open a can of worms and be complicated and cause a whole lot of issues, and it typically doesn’t work like this.
    Additionally, I don’t think the use of instagram to find a child is at all a good thing. I understand desperation, but honestly it has the flavor of child buying/selling, which, granted, is somewhat how domestic infant adoption works in the US.
    I also don’t think you can compare adoption to getting pregnant. Biological parents don’t have to go through homestudies unless something goes awry, so yes, adopting parents are held to a higher standard. And I promise you, this couple would absolutely not pass a US home study, no matter how gay-friendly the adoption agency or state was.
    I guess I’m just afraid that this will give people the wrong idea, mainly (young, clueless, love-blinded) couples like this one.

  5. when i read your write up , i thought they were young. The video only reinforced that, they are so adorable. I also get why Toni would like to create her forever home so i can’t really begrudge her for trying but they are both oh so young and have been together for such a short time. Focus some of that nesting energy on your gorgeous pup, also I never thought it would be so easy to find a child to adopt on instagram. This felt like a preview to a longer episode, its well done and I love that it doesn’t have a maury show feel to it.

  6. They seem lovely together, they support each other and love each other very much. However I have some reservations about the fact that it all seems to be happening very fast. It’s going to be hard on them based on their location and based on the fact that they are so young and they haven’t known each other for very long. Raising children is hard so very hard and I’m concerned they haven’t fully explored one another as deeply as they possibly could yet.

    I could be wrong and it may not turn out this way because I want them to do so well. I want them to do well so bad I can almost taste it. But I’m scared for them and only because of how badly it can go.

  7. I saw this video yesterday, outside of Autostraddle. After watching the whole thing, I was left with a few impressions:

    1. They are clearly, so deeply in puppy love. It warms my heart. When the one partner got the neg pregnancy test, and the other made a joke which made the partner who took the test feel hurt, the “don’t be mad” goofy reaction reminded me fondly of the early parts of my relationship, and yet also gave me the impression that due to the length of their time together they don’t quite yet know how to handle each other’s volatileness.

    2. However, that alone makes me wonder if their relationship is at the point where they should be considering taking on the massive responsibility of *another human life* as an extension of their love. Do I know them personally & have a right to judge? No. Is it a valid question that the manner this video was filimed in and presented in has left me with? Yes.

    3. I felt very conflicted watching this yesterday. I so badly wanted to root for their baby making/getting process. They are queer! They are biracial! They are in the South! As a queer woman in a biracial relationship who was raised in the South, I really, really wanted to be on their side. But at the end of the video, I felt as though it was for the better “instababy #1” fell through.

    I don’t have any answers. Just conflicted feelings & the overwhelming hunch that I shouldn’t get to have an opinion on this because I’m not part of their relationship or world. But was the video not encouraging me to have some sort of opinion?

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