Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Co-produced by Barbra Streisand and Whoopi Goldberg, the made-for-TV What Makes a Family stars Brooke Shields, cast against type as a woman happily committed to a lesbian relationship. Yearning for a family of their own, Janine Nielsen (Shields) and her partner, Sandy Cataldi (Cherry Jones), elect to have a baby via artificial insemination, with Sandy as the biological mother. Alas, Sandy dies not long after the birth of her child, whereupon Janine is plunged into a legal hell by Sandy's parents (Anne Meara and Al Waxman), who sue to gain custody of the baby. Poignantly addressing a myriad of moral, legal, and ethical issues, What Makes a Family was ideally suited to air over the Lifetime cable network, where the film first aired on January 31, 2001.