While Jem Corraggio, Michael Durkin and Tia Wilkin bear different last names, they all plan to use “Corraggio,” which means “courage” in Italian, in the future.
“We figured that was easier than hyphenating three names,” Corraggio laughed.
The triad share an Ardmore home with their two children, Rini and Atreyu, who also bear the Corraggio name. Durkin is the biological father of both children, and Corraggio is the birth mom of Rini, 6. The birth mom of Atreyu, 4, is a former partner from a previous triad with Durkin and Corraggio, and she continues to co-parent.
Corraggio met Durkin at an Anime USA convention when they were in other relationships. Two years later, in 2009, when Corraggio was dating Atreyu’s then-future mother, they met again at Dracula’s Ball.
“He made all of us dinner and he was very good about accepting the fact that I was poly,” Corraggio said. “The three of us were more of a V where [my partner] and Michael were in a relationship with me and not romantically involved with each other.”
That former partner came to the conclusion she was straight and broke off the relationship; Corraggio and Durkin stayed together. Corraggio met and started dating Wilkin last year; however, Durkin also had feelings of his own.
“Both Tia and Michael privately confided in me they had feelings for the other but forbade me to tell. I was like, ‘Oh my God. You’re so high-school. Get over yourselves and tell each other,’” Corraggio said with a laugh. “We ended up in an equilateral triangle, which feels better to me anyway. It’s more like what we’re supposed to be.”
To the kids, Tia is “Mama” and Michael is “Daddy.” Corraggio identifies as bigender and took inspiration from “She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders,” by trans author Jennifer Finney Boylan, whose kids call her “Maddy.”
“It’s literally ‘Mommy’ and ‘Daddy’ squished together,” Corraggio said. “It works no matter what gender I am at the moment.”
Corraggio noted the family explains their structure to their kids’ teachers each school year. She recalled a conversation with Rini’s second-grade teacher.
“The teacher was like, ‘Oh, that’s so great. I’m glad she has so much love. Let me write down what house she goes to every day so I know whether or not to put her on the bus,’” Corraggio said.
That same teacher emailed Corraggio when she noticed Rini went straight for the classroom’s bookshelf.
“[She asked], ‘Are there any books I could put on my bookshelf or that I should take off my bookshelf? I don’t want her to feel uncomfortable,’” Corraggio said. “Unfortunately, there aren’t any poly kids’ books that we’re aware of but at least we recommended some gay kids’ books.”
When it came to introducing Wilkin to the family, Corraggio faced few difficulties.
“It started off being like, ‘Oh, this is Ms. Tia. She’s our girlfriend and she’s going to hang out sometimes.’ This one time she went with me to pick Rini up from school and Rini’s friends were very interested in who this other adult with Rini’s mom was. Rini goes, ‘Oh that’s my mom in training.’ So every time her friends see her, they’re like, ‘Hi, Rini’s training mom.’”
Corraggio said the kids will even brag about having three moms, counting her previous partner. However, they may not necessarily be aware that their family structure is “different.” Corraggio recalled a recent camping trip with a two-dad family.
“Atreyu said something like, ‘Oh, is your mom coming?’ And the kids of the other family are like, ‘No, we don’t have a mom. We just have two dads,’” Corraggio said. “And it was interesting that even though Atreyu lives in a very different structure, he still made the assumption that other kids would have a heteronormative family. I was like, ‘Maybe we need to hang out with more gay families.’”
In addition to camping, the family enjoys bike-riding, rollerblading and other outdoor activities in their spare time. The kids also share their parents’ love for “Power Rangers” and are currently up to the ninth season in their binge-watch of the original series.
Corraggio and Durkin legally married in 2015 for monetary reasons and they plan to have a religious ceremony with Wilkin.
Corraggio noted that there are both challenges and benefits of a three-parent home.
“It’s a little more complicated keeping everyone’s schedules straight and figuring out who’s doing what. But to be honest, it’s probably easier. We outnumber our kids. There’s more hands on deck. There’s three incomes.
“I always say I don’t know how mono parents do it because I don’t know how I would do it without that third hand, and on top of that, I look at single parents and think they must be superheroes,” Corraggio laughed.