My Boys Have a Donor, Not a Dad

“How old are you?” the little girl in the shoe department asked my son.

“Five.” he answered with confidence.

“How old’s your mom?” she asked

“Twenntyyy…….?” Dawson started to say, looking over at me for confirmation and assistance.

Oh, my sweet innocent, naive, favorite child.

“32,” I helped him.

“And how old is your dad?” she inquired.

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“I don’t have a dad.” Dawson answered matter-of-factly.

“HE DIED!?” the girl exclaimed, and her eyes shot over to me. Dawson’s expression when he looked at me said it all: what in the….?

“No, I just have two moms,” he explained. I could see the little girl trying to process.

“That boy doesn’t have a DAD!!”

Just then, her mom rounded the corner with two boxes of shoes in tow. “Mommy!” the little girl shouted, tugging on her mom’s shirt and pointing enthusiastically at my kid, “That boy doesn’t have a DAD!!” I watched as the mom died a little inside, politely smiled at me, and then guided her daughter around the corner with the “mom glare” and quiet whispers.

Meanwhile, Dawson looked at me confused. Why was she making such a big deal about this?

★★★

To be honest, the girl is right. Our boys don’t have a dad. They have a donor, and there’s a big difference. My wife and I used a sperm bank to conceive our beautiful boys, and knew from the moment of conception that the way they came into the world, and the family they were born into, would be considered different to people around him.

Our boys don’t have a dad. They have a donor, and there’s a big difference.

But we agreed to raise him with confidence in who he is, and in the unwavering truth that he is loved by two people, who just happen to both be female. We also agreed that we’d never refer to the donor as a dad.

 

Dad is a prized title, a title earned by eradicating monsters from under the bed and fixing boo-boos and throwing you in the pool and teaching you how to pee standing up.

The dad title is not earned by successfully getting your swimmers to the target. Instead, it is earned in the late night feedings and sick days and navigating through first heartbreaks. These are the things that make you a dad.

Dad is a prized title, a title earned by eradicating monsters from under the bed and fixing boo-boos and throwing you in the pool and teaching you how to pee standing up.

We appreciate that our donor gave us the piece of the puzzle we needed to create our boys. But he’s not their dad. We are thankful for the contribution, but he’s not a parent.

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And we’re aware that the terminology is not familiar to everyone, and offer grace when people comment about how they can’t imagine having a baby and not knowing who the dad is. Thanks for making me sound like a floozy, Janet.

Or when they ask if the boys get their long eyelashes from their dad. Or if they wonder if the boys ask about their dad. All legit questions and we’re happy to discuss the details of how we became a family to anyone curious. But our boys have a donor, not a dad.

★★★

Are we worried they’ll get made fun of for not having a dad? Not really. If it weren’t for his lack of a dad, it would be his height or the way he can’t say his R’s yet or his freckles or his love for My Little Pony.

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I’m not worried about the other kids interpreting his family dynamic as a weakness and pouncing on it. My only concern is raising two confident men who can handle it when it happens.

My only concern is raising two confident men who can handle it when it happens.

And this instance, in the shoe department, was a gentle reminder that we’re doing ok. Our kids have a donor. Donor 12X54 to be exact: a five-foot-something hippie with brown eyes who doesn’t own a TV, bikes to work, likes whales and ranks himself as a genius in math. He’s a lot of things, but he’s not their dad.

★★★

Dad is a sacred titled, reserved for men who do their best to love and protect their kids. My wife and I were both lucky enough to have great dads, who now serve as doting grandfathers for our boys. We have brothers who have transformed into rock star uncles who can fill that void, should the boys ever feel that they have one.

We’re thankful to Donor 12X54 for a lot of things. But giving him the title of dad is giving him something he didn’t earn. He gave us the other half to the two people who mean the world to us, but he’s a donor, not their dad. And we’re all just fine with that.★

diana

Diana is an Orlando native, freelance writer, boymom and lover of all things carbs. She enjoys uninterrupted trips to the bathroom, browsing Target without kids, and date nights with her wife. She relates best to moms who live by the 5-second rule and probably give their kids too much screen time.

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