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Modern Family Dynamics: Celebrating Fatherhood Is LGBTQ+ Households

David Titterington had a hunch about what his childhood friend was about to ask when she led him into a photo booth at a mutual friend's wedding about a decade ago. As the countdown for the second photo began, Jen Wilson popped the question: "Will you be my sperm donor?"

"Of course, I said yes," Titterington recalled. "As a gay man, I never imagined I'd have the chance to have biological children and be part of their lives."

This Father's Day, Kansas residents Jen and Whitney Wilson will gather their three children—ages 9, 7, and 3—for a picnic at Titterington's home in Missouri, celebrating the man who helped create their family. Like many LGBTQ+ couples, they and their sperm donor have developed their own Father's Day traditions.

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"We decided to celebrate him," said Jen Wilson, the executive director of the LGBTQ+ advocacy group Modern Family Alliance.

For LGBTQ+ individuals, single-parent households, and other nontraditional families, Father's Day and Mother's Day can be complex and sometimes painful. School events centered around these holidays can leave some children feeling isolated. Jen Wilson noted that many schools are working toward inclusivity by changing events like "Donuts with Dads" to "Donuts with Grown-Ups."

"Some families don't have a 'David' to point to as a father figure. We're really lucky," said Whitney Wilson. "We have so many people in our lives—grandpas, uncles, and others—who serve as father figures."

According to Family Equality, between 2 million and 3.3 million children under 18 have an LGBTQ+ parent. Cathy Renna, communications director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, noted that families of all kinds are becoming more visible, with many Pride events now including family-friendly activities.

"Seeing diverse families is important not just for us, but for kids to understand that families come in many configurations and that love is what makes a family," Renna said.

Jen Wilson emphasized that Father's Day should celebrate the great fathers in all communities, not just one's own.

Friends since childhood, Jen Wilson and Titterington discussed the idea of him being a sperm donor when she and her wife were planning their family. Titterington was thrilled when they made the request official.

Titterington views his role more as a godfather than a traditional father. He and his husband participate in school events and birthday parties, considering themselves as "coaches from the sidelines." While he prefers the term "blood father," the children often call him their "bio dad" or "donor dad."

"I am their father, but not their parent," Titterington explained. "Jennifer and Whitney are the parents, and they're doing an amazing job."

Whitney Wilson acknowledged that the children sometimes struggle with not having a traditional dad, but it’s not a major issue in their household.

"Many people might say it's terrible our children don't have a father figure," Jen Wilson said. "We know that's not true."

For Titterington, fatherhood includes moments like their firstborn falling asleep on his chest, receiving scribbled artwork, and cleaning up after a potty-training toddler. After a busy weekend with the kids, he can send them back to their mothers.

"There are so many ways to be a father," Titterington said. "We get to celebrate all kinds of fathers on Father's Day."

In conclusion, David Titterington, Jen, and Whitney Wilson have created a unique and loving family structure that challenges traditional notions of fatherhood. Through their journey, they exemplify how diverse family configurations can provide nurturing and supportive environments for children. Their story highlights the importance of inclusivity and the evolving definitions of parenthood in today's society. As we celebrate Father's Day, it's a reminder to honor all the different ways people can step up and play a pivotal role in the lives of children, proving that love, more than anything, defines what it means to be a family.

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