A Look At Fatherhood In 2016

Why being a hero is defined by care, not genetics

In honor of Father’s Day, we sat down with four families to get an intimate look at the heroism that lives within fatherhood. Through our time with Mark and Kipp Jarecke-Cheng, we see what fatherhood truly looks like in 2016. They show us that being a hero to their kids has nothing to do with matching genes, but everything to do with the care they provide.

For Mark and Kipp, fatherhood began in a unique way. They weren’t in a maternity ward, or even sitting in the waiting room. For them it was in their kitchen — with a large, manila envelope in their hand and a big, bright look on Kipp’s face. Inside wasn’t just an ordinary piece of mail. This was it. This was their beginning. They opened the envelope…

Inside was a picture of their son.

Kipp and his son, Beckett
“For some parents it happens when the baby is born. But when I first saw the picture of Beckett, that’s when it happened. I felt it right away.” — Mark

Earlier that week, their son Beckett had been born overseas. So for Mark and Kipp starting their family didn’t take a trip to the hospital, but rather a five week long journey to Vietnam.

From left to right: Mark, Beckett, Kipp & Alexa
“I like to say that we’re your typical Taiwanese, Polish, Vietnamese, Cuban, African-American family that lives in the suburbs.” — Kipp

When we caught up with the Jarecke-Chengs, Alexa was fast asleep on Mark’s chest. “She’s quiet now, but just wait until she wakes up.” And he was right. Even at one and a half years old her personality radiated.

Beckett, on the other hand, is a little more reserved like his dad Kipp. But when we had a chance to sit down with him, he wasn’t shy at all about how much his dads meant to him.

Top photo: Art provided by fans of Lazy Dad’s Guide to Doing Everything

“My dads are my heroes. I love playing games with them, cooking, and trying new foods.”

“I hope I’m creative like them when I grow up.” — Beckett

It’s easy to see why Beckett views them that way. Whether it’s reading, playing piano, or just lounging on the couch — the Jarecke-Chengs just love spending time together.

“Beckett and I hang all the time. Even though he and Kipp have the same disposition, we’re into the same nerdy things. We’re always getting into another comic book or graphic novel,” Mark tells us.

And when Beckett’s not “nerding out” with Mark, he’s making father-son YouTube videos with Kipp—a project that they started a few years prior.

So while Mark and Kipp are both very successful in their careers, it’s obvious that family is their top priority. In fact, according to Kipp, his day job is really just a way to make his real gig as dad possible.

Kipp tells us, “I want to raise a son who knows what being a man is really about. It takes strength, compassion and commitment.” And as for Alexa, “I want to raise a daughter with high standards. I want her to understand that she can do anything.”

“I want to raise a daughter with high standards. I want her to understand that she can do anything.” —Kipp

“I just don’t take fatherhood for granted. Being a dad is a privilege,” Mark tells us.

And after learning more, we see why. Before they brought Alexa into their family, they had two failed adoptions. Both were situations where they brought the baby home, and the parents changed their minds.

“Let’s just say we know how lucky we are,” says Mark.

While something as painful as their experience may make some people angry, or even bitter, it only made Mark and Kipp more grateful for what they have. When Mark heard his son say that his dads are his heroes, a look of reassurance swept across his face.

Kipp adds, “I always say that through this adoption process you end up with the kids that you’re meant to be with. Genetics doesn’t make us a family.”

“Committing to each other and loving each other. That’s what our family is made of.” — Kipp

And it shows. Through the Jarecke-Chengs, we see that family is about appreciating every moment, even the little ones — like sitting in the kitchen, with an envelope in hand.

See how we celebrate all heroes who give unwavering care to their families:

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