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StoryCorps: Washington Women Share Story Of Coming Out, Co-Parenting

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Cindy Morgan-Jaffe and Tanya Renne in the StoryCorp MobileBooth.
Raphaella Bennin
Cindy Morgan-Jaffe and Tanya Renne in the StoryCorp MobileBooth.

Cindy had been married to her husband for 14 years when she started feeling attracted to women. She recalled that while she divorced her husband and started dating a woman, "there was a lot of fear, and a lot of uncertainty, and anxiety around what is happening."

To better understand what she was experiencing, she went to Lambda Rising, an LGBT bookstore in Dupont Circle.

Crossing the threshold into the book story, "I found myself thinking that all the alarms were going to go off, and there were going to be arrows pointing at me," says Cindy. "And I went over to a table, and there was a book called "Married Women who Fall in Love with Women." And it was like it was sizzling there, and I wanted to pick it up, but I was terrified to bring it up to the cashier." She didn't buy the book.

Months later, at a dinner party, Cindy met Tanya. After dating and then moving in together, they decided to have a baby. While Tanya was pregnant, she saw the sculpture the Marassa, also known as "The Twins," at an art gallery. The gallery owner joked with Tanya that if she bought the sculpture, she'd have twins, but she knew that wasn't possible; Tanya hadn't used drugs to get pregnant and her family didn't have any history of twins. Cindy recalls, "there was absolutely zero chance of twins."

Tanya remembers going in for her first sonogram. The first thing out of the sonographer's mouth was, "well, there's two in there."

"Cindy, cue the water works, immediately starts crying," recalls Tanya. "And I look at Paulette [the sonographer] and I said, 'so how long have you been doing this?' And she says, '15 years.' And I thought 'oh my God, she can't possibly be wrong.' And I have to say, in the moment that she said it, I was thrilled. And then the next moment, we were just petrified."

Cindy remembers that she started crying both because it was such exciting news, but also because it was one more big, unplanned change in her life. She remembers calling her mom, "Who had been a wonderful mom through all of this — with the divorce, and then 'oh you're with a woman now,' and there we were, adding twins to the package."

Cindy has three children from her first marriage, and after 14 years with Tanya, they've figured out how to celebrate all the members of their family.

"I think we did blending beautifully," says Tanya. "It was still hard. Someone said to me 'It's like going to Siberia without a coat on. Who would do that?' So, it was hard. And it's amazing to have gotten through it to a place where I think we're all really solid."

This interview was recorded in Arlington, Va. at StoryCorps, a national nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of our lives. To find out more information and to reserve a timeslot to tell your own story at the StoryCorps MobileBooth, visit StoryCorps.org.


[Music: "What the World Needs Now" by Stan Getz from What the World Needs Now / "I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing" by 101 Strings Orchestra from The Best of 101 Strings]

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