On Father's Day, this LGBTQ+ couple celebrates the friend who helped make their family dream reality | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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On Father's Day, this LGBTQ+ couple celebrates the friend who helped make their family dream reality

Whitney Wilson, a 39-year-old therapist, watches her three children play at a park in the Kansas City suburb of Prairie Village, Kansas, on Friday, June 14, 2024. On Father's Day, she and her wife, Jen Wilson, will pack up their 9-year-old son, 7-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son and take them to visit the sperm donor who made it all possible: David Titterington. To the kids, this-godfather-like figure is alternatively called "bio dad," "donor dad" or "blood father." (AP Photo/Heather Hollingsworth)
Original Publication Date June 15, 2024 - 9:06 AM

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. (AP) — David Titterington had a sense of what his childhood friend would ask him when she led him into a photo booth at a mutual friend's wedding roughly a decade ago. As the countdown for the second photo ticked, Jen Wilson popped the question: Will you be my sperm donor?

“Of course I said yes,” Titterington said. “I mean, who would have guessed that, being a gay man, I would have this opportunity to have biological children and also be part of their lives?”

On Father’s Day, Kansas residents Jen and Whitney Wilson will pack up their three children — ages 9, 7 and 3 — and head to picnic at Titterington's Missouri house to celebrate the man who helped make their family possible. Like other LGBTQ+ couples, they and their sperm donor have created their own traditions around Father’s Day.

“We just have decided to celebrate him,” said Jen Wilson, who works as the executive director of the LGBTQ+ advocacy group Modern Family Alliance.

For LGBTQ+ people, single-parent households, other nontraditional families or those with strained family relationships, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day can be painful and confusing. Events featuring those holidays at school can make some children feel isolated. Jen Wilson said many schools are working toward being more inclusive, such as turning events like “Donuts with Dads” to “Donuts with Grown-Ups.”

“There are families who don’t have a David, who can’t really point to, like, this is what it means to be a dad or have a father figure. So I consider us really lucky," Whitney Wilson said. She later added: “I think we’re really lucky in that we have lots of people in our life to point to. Not just David ... grandpas and uncles and all kinds of people who are also fathers."

Between 2 million and 3.3 million children under age 18 have an LGBTQ+ parent, according to the group Family Equality.

Such families are growing more visible in recent years, said Cathy Renna, the communications director of the National LGBTQ Task Force. Most Pride events now include family friendly activities, like climbing walls, she said.

“Now we see families of all kinds and shapes and sizes, and that’s really important. It’s important not just for us," Renna said. "It’s also important for kids to understand, you know, that families do come in many different, configurations and that families are about love."

When it comes to Father’s Day, Jen Wilson said: “People focus so much on just their own father instead of highlighting the fact that there are a lot of really great fathers in the world in lots of different communities and just celebrating them for stepping up and ... being the great dads that they are.”

Jen Wilson and Titterington have been friends since childhood. When Jen Wilson and her wife began planning for a family, Titterington tossed out the idea of being a sperm donor, and he was overjoyed when the couple later made the ask official.

Titterington sees his role in the kids’ lives as more akin to a godfather than a father. He and his husband go to school events and birthday parties, and Titterington said they see themselves as “coaching them from the sidelines.” He said he is partial to the title “blood father,” but the Wilsons said the children more often refer to him as their “bio dad” or “donor dad.”

“I am their father, but I’m not really their parent,” Titterington said. “Because Jennifer and Whitney are the two parents, and they’re doing an amazing job.”

Even with David, the idea that the children don't have a dad can be hard for them, Whitney Wilson said, but it isn't “something that keeps anybody in our house up at night.”

“There are a lot of people that would love the opportunity to tell our children how terrible it is that they don’t have a father figure in their life,” Jen Wilson said. “We know that’s not true.”

For Titterington, fatherhood is the weight of the Wilsons' firstborn falling asleep on his chest, gifts of scribbled artwork that can never be thrown away, and cleaning up after a toddler in potty training. But after a tiring weekend slumber party, he can send the children home to their mothers.

“There’s so many ways to be a father,” Titterington said. “We get to celebrate all kinds of fathers on Father’s Day.”

___

Ballentine contributed to this report from Columbia, Missouri.

News from © The Associated Press, 2024
The Associated Press

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