Ten months later, Jonas and Wyatt receive revised birth certificates with their new last name: Maines. The boys are happy and healthy, Kelly stays at home, and Wayne works as a corporate safety director for a chemical plant in Schenectady.
In the first 10 months of their lives with Wyatt and Jonas, the Kelly and Wayne start to build their “traditional” family: a working father, a stay-at-home mother, and two baby boys. The family’s typical beginning, therefore, only makes it harder for Wayne when he starts to realize that their family isn’t completely ordinary.
Wayne and Kelly, Wyatt, and Jonas live in a farmhouse in Northville, New York, and Kelly and Wayne enjoy the beginnings of parenthood. But six months after the twins are born, Sarah’s mother, Janis, begins to call regularly, gradually implying that she wants to take one of the twins. Kelly immediately starts the process of getting passports for the kids so that she and Wayne could flee the country if they try to take her children. She refuses Janis’s offer, telling her that she can take both infants or neither, knowing that Janis, who already has four children, will back off.
Janis’s offer serves as a threat to Kelly and her security in her family. But Kelly’s reaction—to fight as strongly and as quickly as possible to maintain her new family—demonstrates how much love she already has for her children and how she would be willing to do anything to protect them.
On May 17, 1998, Wayne and Kelly go to court to make the adoptions official. A judge verifies that Wyatt and Jonas are, in fact, the babies to be adopted, and signs the adoption order. Once home, the family celebrates the good news. Wayne and Kelly are relieved that the boys are now officially theirs.
Although the court order makes it official, Nutt makes it clear that the Maineses’ bonds of love have already been strongly built. Nutt demonstrates how neither biological relation nor the law is necessary in creating a family—it is solely this bond of love and support that matters.
Wyatt and Jonas have a clear physical bond, always wanting to be near each other. But as they grow, Wyatt loves Barbies, while Jonas loves Star Wars and Power Rangers. Wyatt takes his frustration out on Jonas, while Jonas is unusually gentle. Jonas plays the “boy” characters when they act out stories, while Wyatt plays the “girl” characters.
Even when the boys are as young as two years old, differences in their gender identity start to emerge. Wyatt’s preference for stereotypically female activities and roles makes clear that he has an immediate and even innate understanding of his identity.
Wyatt is particularly obsessed with The Little Mermaid. Nutt writes, “Part human, part fish, Ariel, with her shiny green scales, is decidedly a mermaid below the waist. But above it, with her long hair and luscious red lips, she is all girl.” Ariel’s problem is that she lives in one world but yearns to be in another. She is comforted by the top half of her reflection, but the bottom half doesn’t make sense to her. Wyatt watches The Little Mermaid incessantly and puts a red shirt on his head to imitate her long, flowing hair.
The Little Mermaid becomes a perfect symbol for Wyatt’s own distress concerning his anatomy, since Ariel has the upper half of a woman and the bottom half of a fish. Like Ariel, Wyatt will experiences unease concerning his “bottom half.” He, too, feels stuck between two worlds: he has the feeling of being a girl, but the anatomy of a boy. Yet, like the Little Mermaid, he will ultimately undergo a transformation that allows him to be a part of the world he longs for.
One day, before the twins are three, Wayne is renovating one of their bathrooms using a hammer. Wyatt joins him with his own toy hammer. Wayne “glorie[s] in the father-and-son moment.” But when they take a break to have a snack, Wyatt says to his father, “Daddy, I hate my penis.” Wayne is shocked. He scoops up Wyatt and tries to comfort him while also struggling with his own reaction. Jonas comes in as well; seeing Wyatt crying, he starts to sob, too. Wayne tells the boys, “Everything’s going to be okay.”
This incident touches on two themes: first, it shows the depth of Wyatt’s distress over his anatomy, emphasizing how he instinctively understands that he is a girl. The second is Wayne’s instinctive desire to comfort his son. Despite the fact that he is frequently frustrated and upset by Wyatt’s behavior, at the end of the day the love he has for his child is more important than the desire to have a “normal” family.