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Songwriter Desmond Child's modern family includes a partner, twin boys — and the boys' surrogate mother

And Mommy Makes Five



It's a universal story. A couple falls in love, wants a child, has a child and documents every digital step along the way. Their lens captures the raw footage of the angst and tension of fertility treatments, the surging joy of birth and the growth and development of healthy twin boys.

While universal truths form the foundation for the documentary Two: The Story of Roman & Nyro (premiering 7:30 p.m. Thursday), it's the contextual framework that makes the film a compelling story of modern family love.

This set of Nashville parents is famed pop songwriter Desmond Child ("Livin' La Vida Loca," "Living on a Prayer" and dozens of others) and his partner of more than 20 years, Curtis Shaw. The film's focus goes beyond the biology of surrogacy and deep into the bonds of love and friendship, trust and hope, tolerance and courage.

Child is the more outspoken of the two, quick to speak with the indignant passion of an advocate. He and Shaw were to be married in San Francisco, but Proposition 8 wrenched those plans.

"I remember George Bush saying, 'I don't know why they want to get married. They can't have children,' " Child recalls. "Well, we can and we do. Gays are not infertile, and their children deserve to have married parents."

The film captures their ultimate decision to move forward to create a family, recounting the extraordinary set of spiritual signs and synchronicity that led them to their surrogate mother, Angela Whittaker, who remains a viable part of the family.

The story doesn't end at birth, leaving the audience to wonder how the boys turned out. The film just finished post-production last week and knits together more than 12 years of family life and interviews. Child and Shaw worked with award-winning producer Heather Winters (Super Size Me), who makes her directorial debut, to organize years of "family movies" into an engaging narrative.

Asked separately which moment resonates most for them, both Child and Shaw point to an interview with Shaw's mother. Reluctant at first to participate, she opens up with remarkable candor.

The audience meets a woman who struggled with her son's coming out, his relationship and a desire to have a family, and sees her story played out before the lens. It's especially poignant as the U.S. Supreme Court and Congress expose parallel story lines.

"It took her a long time to come around," Child says, "but now she is the most ardent activist on our behalf."

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