When I married Raylan eleven years ago he became a Step-Dad to one child, my daughter Elle - age 6. He had unofficially taken on the role when we moved in together the year before. From the very beginning, Elle called Raylan - Daddy. Never a question that it would be anything different. It probably had something to do with five other kids calling him Daddy and wanting to be apart of the tribe. For Elle his name was Daddy and that was that.
Raylan's role and relationship with Elle has grown through the years. What started out as simply Elle's ceremonial title for Raylan has evolved into tremendous meaning for Elle. Especially given the last two years, Raylan stepped in when Elle really needed a Dad. As Elle has said; a Father is the person who created you - a Dad is the one who was there for you when you needed him the most!
When Elle left Dick's house two years ago, Raylan sat Elle down and told her she was safe - he would not let any harm come to her - do anything he needed to protect her. Elle's part-time home was now her home full-time as long as she wanted.
When Elle felt like she needed to go back to Dick's house because he was with-holding money and she thought the burden would be to much for Raylan and me - he told her that it wasn't a burden. Without missing a step he took over complete financial responsibility for Elle. He never wanted her to make a decision based upon a parent holding money over her head for things like medical insurance (she was weeks away from major surgery), school tuition, etc.
Raylan is more than a Dad - he's simply the Best Dad in the world! He did everything for Elle because he loved her, not because he's married to her Mom or I that I insisted upon him doing certain things. He just did them the same as he would have had it been his own child.
He opened his heart to Elle when we got married and now I don't know what either one of us would have done without him. So in honor of Father's Day, we celebrated as a family - one day - no need for two.
I'm thankful I married a man that could love - protect - honor my child the same way he does his own. Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there, but especially to the Dad's that have opened their hearts to someone else's child.