Lori Bott and Georgette LeMieux met at an Orlando Walmart 12 years ago and fell in love. They moved in together and, during the next five years, each would give birth to a son.
Earlier this month, they joined a small but growing number of Florida gays and lesbians who have done what, until this past autumn, was illegal: They adopted children.
Bott became a legal parent to LeMieux's 9-year-old, Mike, who wants to be a soldier. LeMieux adopted Bott's 7-year-old son, Matt, who so loves John Deere tractors that he has a bedspread and curtains covered with pictures of them.
Each woman got teary-eyed during the July6 court hearing in Hillsborough County that finalized the adoptions.
"It's exciting," Bott said at the time, "because we know what it means."
For 33 years, gays and lesbians were barred by state law from adopting. That changed in October, when Florida's 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami upheld the right of a Miami man — a foster parent — to adopt two children he had been raising for years.
* * *
LeMieux, a fast-food executive, and Bott, a deputy sheriff, said they didn't adopt to be trendsetters. They just wanted to unify their family, said Bott, 39.
The adoptions change little in their day-to-day lives. They have always lived as a family of four, but this allows LeMieux to put Matt on her company's health-insurance plan and straightens out who will care for the boys if one of the adults dies.
"This is solid," Bott said. "This is something that can't be taken away from us."
5 weeks ago