What Makes a Family

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What Makes a Family is a 2001 American television movie from Lifetime Television.[1] The film premiered on the network on January 22, 2001.[2]


Based on a true story, the movie involves a lesbian couple living in Florida who choose to have a child. Janine Nielsen (Brooke Shields) and her partner, Sandy Cataldi (Cherry Jones), elect to conceive a baby via artificial insemination with Sandy as the biological mother. After the birth of their daughter Heather, Sandy is diagnosed with systemic lupus when she collapses at the baby's christening. The couple handles the disease for several years until Sandy dies. Following her death, Sandy's parents (Anne Meara and Al Waxman) sue to gain custody of the child. Addressing moral, legal and ethical issues, Janine's lawyer (Whoopi Goldberg) wins the custody battle after a video tape surfaces in which Sandy expressed her love for both Janine and Heather and her wish for them to stay together.


The movie was directed by Maggie Greenwald, with the screenplay written by Robert L. Freedman. The executive producers were Barbra Streisand, Whoopi Goldberg, Cis Corman, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.[3]

Main cast[edit]


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