Raised by lesbian parents, I often got asked questions such as; “So, who’s your father?” “Do you have a dad?” “Do you like not having a father?” “Would you rather have a normal family?” “Is it better having two moms instead of a dad?” I do not have a father. I am a donor conceived child by an anonymous donor. I grew up always knowing how I was conceived. I realized from a young age that I do not have a traditional family like most other children. My parents made sure to enroll me in schools where my alternative family was accepted, tolerated, or at least not questioned. During elementary school, I hardly ever felt that I was missing out by not having a father. I had two parental figures in my life, my biological and my adopted mother, and that was enough. It was not until sixth grade, when my science teacher had us construct a biological family tree, did I find myself having to deal with not knowing the other half of my genetic identity. All of my classmates came to school with the names and pictures of their extended family, while I walked in with the a ten page Donor History Form of donor number 0073, which my mother had received from the sperm bank. The form included personal information such as weight, height, and hobbies of the members of my donor’s side of the family, but it excluded the vital information of their names, phone numbers, and addresses. Somehow I survived that day in school. Along the road I have developed survival techniques to avoid uncomfortable questions like pretending I have a generic family while dealing with strangers. Yet, going through all of this I still never felt the need to search for my anonymous donor. It was not until a few years ago did I become aware that many donor conceived children were seeking to meet their donor and their half siblings.
All that changed after September 28th, 2007 when one of my mother’s came across an article in the LA Weekly titled “The God of Sperm” by Steven Kotler. The article mentioned a donor conceived teenager named Ryan Kramer, who in 2000 became interested in learning more about his genetic origins. But at that time there was no such vehicle to make these connections possible. So with the help of his mother, Wendy Kramer, he created a small Yahoo group. That small discussion group has grown into the Donor Sibling Registry (DSR), a non profit organization, serving more than 20,000 donor conceived children, parents, parents-to-be and donors around the world. When my mother first started talking about the registry I paid little attention. I could not grasp why these children and their parents pursued the prospect of contacting unknown individuals to whom they were only linked by partial DNA. But my mother was fascinated by the website, so she created a profile for me under my donor’s number and the name of the original sperm bank facility she had used. To my surprise, not long after she created the profile, I came back from school one day to find a computer print out of a picture of a little boy in a blue shirt sitting on the back of a metal gorilla in what seemed to be a zoo. Next to it was one of my own toddler pictures. My mom asked me to look at the obvious similarities between the two faces. As I later found out, this resemblance was present since we were both conceived using the same donor. I learned that my half-brother is three years younger than me and lives in Missouri. He is a son of a heterosexual couple that had difficulty conceiving with the father’s sperm and chose to keep the fact that they used a sperm donor a secret from their son. As a result of my half-siblings family dynamics, it is not possible for me to meet him. Before this incident, I had no interest in finding my half-siblings or my donor since I did not want to give strangers a membership to my family. But even though I did not get to meet this particular half-sibling of mine, I realized that since I consider members of my swim team and choir to be my extended family, so why shouldn’t I do the same with children I share part of my DNA strand with.
Becoming aware of the Donor Sibling Registry allowed me to stop seeing the fact that I am a donor conceived child as just another complication of my upbringing. I still see myself as just a typical teenager, but I know now that I cannot disregard the role my unique conception had on my life. I am ready to accept that it involuntarily connects me to a group of people that I do not know, but share a similar history with. I know that this is only the first step of a long journey, but it has already taken me to places that I did not expect.