Robert was a finalist for the Humanitas Prize for What Makes a Family, which was based on a true story about a lesbian fighting to adopt a child in the state of Florida. Robert spent time in Florida doing research, mostly interviewing the story’s protagonist, Janine Ratcliffe, in Pensacola. He also interviewed her attorney in Ft. Lauderdale, and one of her closest friends, in St. Petersburg.
Produced by Barbra Streisand, Cis Corman, Whoopi Goldberg, and Storyline Entertainment, and directed by Maggie Greenwald, What Makes a Family tells the story of a devoted couple, played by Brooke Shields and Cherry Jones, who decide to have a baby.
When the little girl is five, her natural mother dies of Lupus, and the girl’s grandparents try to get custody, in spite of the fact that the child still has one living mother who desperately wants to keep her. The state of Florida did not allow gay adoption at the time, and still doesn’t to this day, in spite of this landmark case. Whoopi Goldberg plays the attorney, and Anne Meara plays the grandmother. What Makes a Family won a GLAAD Award for best television movie of the year.