Olive Wilson shows off her family photo while playing in a park on Friday, June 14, 2024.  The now 7-year-old posed for the photos, taken in 2021, with her two siblings, two mothers, the sperm donor who acts as a godfather figure and his husband.  This family celebrates Father's Day together on Sunday. "He cares about us a lot," she says.  (AP Photo/Nick Ingram)

Olive Wilson shows off her family photo while playing in a park on Friday, June 14, 2024. The now 7-year-old posed for the photos, taken in 2021, with her two siblings, two mothers, the sperm donor who acts as a godfather figure and his husband. This family celebrates Father’s Day together on Sunday. “He cares about us a lot,” she says. (AP Photo/Nick Ingram)

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. (AP) – David Titterington had an idea of ​​what his childhood friend would ask him when she led him into a photo booth at a mutual friend’s wedding about a decade ago. As the countdown ticked down to the second photo, Jen Wilson asked the question: would you be my sperm donor?

“Of course I said yes,” Titterington said. “I mean, who would have imagined that as a gay man I would have the opportunity to have biological children and be a part of their lives as well?”


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

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

For LGBTQ+ people, single-parent families, other non-traditional families, or families with strained family relationships, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day can be painful and confusing. Events around these holidays at school can leave some children feeling isolated. Jen Wilson said many schools are working to be more inclusive, such as changing events like “Donuts with Dads” to “Donuts with Grown-Ups.”

“There are families who don’t have David, who can’t really say, this is what it means to be a father or to have a father figure. So I consider us very fortunate,” Whitney Wilson said. She later added, “I think we’re very lucky that we have a lot of people in our lives that we can point to. Not just David…grandfathers and uncles and all kinds of people who are also fathers.’

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

Such families have become increasingly visible in recent years, said Cathy Renna, communications director for the National LGBTQ Task Force. Most Pride events now include family-friendly activities such as climbing walls, she said.

“Now we see families of all shapes and sizes, and that is very important. It’s not just important to us,” Renna said. “It is also important that children understand that families come in many different configurations and that families are about love.”

Speaking about Father’s Day, Jen Wilson said: “People focus so much on just their own dads instead of emphasizing that there are a lot of great dads in the world in a lot of different communities and just celebrating them for stepping up. and…being the great fathers that they are.”

Jen Wilson and Titterington have been friends since childhood. When Jen Wilson and her wife started making plans for a family, Titterington threw out the idea of ​​becoming a sperm donor, and was thrilled when the couple later made the question official.

Titterington sees his role in the children’s lives more as a godfather than a father. He and his husband attend school events and birthday parties, and Titterington said they see themselves as “coaching from the sidelines.” He said he’s partial to the title “blood father,” but the Wilsons said the children are more likely to call him their “biological father” or “donor father.”

“I’m their father, but I’m not really their parent,” Titterington said. “Because Jennifer and Whitney are the two parents, and they do a fantastic job.”

Even with David, the idea of ​​the children not having a father can be difficult for them, Whitney Wilson said, but it’s not “something that keeps anyone up at night in our house.”

“There are a lot of people who would love the opportunity to tell our children how terrible it is that they don’t have a father figure in their lives,” 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 toilet-trained toddler. But after an exhausting weekend slumber party, he’s able to send the kids home to their mothers.

“There are so many ways to be a father,” Titterington said. “On Father’s Day we can put all kinds of fathers in the spotlight.”

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Ballentine contributed to this report from Columbia, Missouri.