It's much more than just a "donated cell". A donor conceived girl turns 18 and makes profound statement with a new tattoo.
New Little Brother!
"Today I found my younger half brother and am absolutely thrilled! I contacted his mother and hopefully we can start a correspondance and maybe even a relationship. I am so happy that DSR has enabled me to find my 'other' family! I was brought to tears when I saw my donor's ID on this boy's post and I am so excited that I finally found him! Thank you so much DSR!"
Two Siblings so far
"Since joining this site I have found two siblings. We have since shared a number of e-mails and have gotten to know each other more. It's amazing how much we discovered we have in common and look alike."
Links to More Success Stories
"'I am an only child with five siblings' is what I said to my mom when in March 2006, I was informed that I have five biological brothers and sisters. I was eleven years old and hearing that fact blew my mind. How do I have brothers and sisters? Why wasn't I told about them until now? Who are they? Where are they? All these questions raced through my mind as my mom was telling me the details." Continue reading Bree's story: Extended Family (Personal Essay by Bree)
"I am 13 years old and in 8th grade. My name is Lauren and I am also a twin. I found out about a month ago now that my dad wasn't my real biological dad. I was shocked at first but then the next day I was excited to tell my friends the news and curious about the donor and what he looked like. I know that my dad is my real dad and will always be, but I still wanted to do some research about the donor. That night I sat on the couch with my family and we all went through the packet about the donor. (heritage, looks, health...etc.)" Continue reading Lauren's story: I am 13 and just found out.
"When I signed up with the DSR a year ago, I did it more with the hopes of finding information about my donor, than with any thoughts of actually finding a sibling. After all, I'd be conceived in the late sixties, well before the existence of sperm banks with registered donors. At that time everything was very secretive, with absolutely no information given to the parents. When I got to the DSR, I was the first person to create a listing under my mom's doctor's name, from New York City." Continue reading this amazing story of older half siblings connecting: Never too old to find a match!
"At 27 years old, finding a brother has been both exciting and a little scary at first... I'm already a 'grown up', with opinions and likes/dislikes fully formed, who now has someone else out there with similar traits, that has my same DNA coursing through his body!
After four months of talking and emailing from Seattle to Togo, West Africa where he is a Peace-Corps Volunteer, we finally met in person a week ago. It was AMAZING. Like looking in a mirror but better, because there was a three-dimensional, living, breathing person standing in front of me, with my eyes and nose and smile and posture and hands, and big toe... the list goes on and on. (more than one stranger has asked if we are twins!)" Stacy and Chris allowed their meeting to be filmed by Oprah- not a dry eye was in the house when the piece aired in 2008. More from Stacy about her experience: A "Twin" Brother!
January 2015: Visiting with DSR family in San Francisco: Sophia, her grandma Connie, and us!
From our Research on Donor Offspring
We asked: Do you have advice to parents about connecting with half-siblings and/or donors?
"Being an only child my whole life and knowing there might be some siblings out there was always in the back of my mind, but I never knew there was a chance to connect with anyone from my father's side of the DNA strand. Now that I have, it's a lot like having siblings without the sharing the bathroom and clothes aspect of actually living with them, and I love it. I talk to at least one sibling everyday, there's just too many to talk to all of them everyday. It's a good thing. I thought it was cool to meet and have more sisters. My mom didn't want more than two kids all by herself so this was her way of giving us more. It's sooo cool!"
"Don't be nervous, we're not trying to replace you, we're trying to find us."
"I don't think that children could forget about or have a lesser opinion of their parents after meeting their donor. Kids know that the people who are important in their lives are the people who have always loved them. I think that knowing a donor can only add to the number of loving adults in a child's life. The donor will never substitute anyone. I feel that by meeting my donor that I have added to the wonderful family that I already have. And the parents will always be there to support the child if meeting the donor was disappointing in some way."
"There's nothing to be afraid of! Just because your child has expressed interest in discovering more about themselves doesn't mean they'll love you any less. In fact they will most likely be very grateful to you for supporting them in this desire."
We asked: Do offspring feel there's something missing from not being parented by a father/male figure?
"Not having a father, especially as a boy, was tough at times. I definitely feel like I could have benefited from having a father figure and would have liked one but I had the benefit of Big Brothers which helped."
"I've been curious as to what it would be like to have a father, but I do not feel like I have missed anything."
"I was always envious of my friends who depended on their fathers. Though I didn't have a father, I think my relationship with my mom is stronger than others."
"My mom was married when I was conceived but was widowed before I was born. It's been a life journey to discover how to be a man on my own. From big things like how to handle masculinity, how to behave toward girls, and attitudes about life, to practical things like how to shave or tie a tie. I couldn't be happier with my life or who I am, but yes, it's taken a lot to come into my own as a man."
"When I was much younger, I was certainly confused about my nontraditional family. I was also just told that I 'just didn't have a dad' until about age 13 and was certainly curious, but I've never felt like there was something missing. Even after hearing from my donor and seeing his photo, I'm so obviously the product of solely my mother (internally and externally) that I've never needed to search for where some strange, inexplicable part of me came from. I have a far better relationship with my mom than many kids have with either parent, and I think much of that came from her being a single parent."
"Girls are supposed to be close with their fathers. I see fathers walking their daughters down the aisle, fathers threatening potential boyfriends, father-daughter bonding times, and I can't help but feel like I missed that."
"I have had four (female) parental figures since age eight, so I have always felt very supported and loved. There was a short period during my childhood when I wanted a father figure, but in general I have not felt something was missing."
"I feel all my needs are met by my two moms. I would just like to know more about him and his family and would like for him to know that I exist."
We asked: What advice would you give to parents considering donor conception?
"Be open about it from day one with the child and it will just seem normal to them. I'm a strong, successful, happy, loving man with a beautiful life and beautiful family. This doesn't define who I am any more than my hair color does. I do think a healthy family life is important (whether donor conceived or not) so that shouldn't be in doubt, but being donor conceived isn't a problem at all. I personally believe that children are best raised by a mother and father, but I'm an example of a child of a single (widowed) mom. I've had some challenges because of that, but I'm still thriving and very happy. As far as I'm concerned, I have a family that loves me just the same as anyone else."
"Think about how this will affect your CHILD, not just you. You are making a choice for them. Try to have a father-figure or mother-figure for them to guide them or set an example of what their expectations of men and women should be. Come to terms with the fact that your kids may want to meet their donor one day and that you need to be supportive of their desire to do that. Otherwise consider other possibilities for having children."
"Just be honest with your child from the get go. I've known my whole life and though it's been painful at times it has never been a really big issue for me. In fact I frequently "forget" for weeks or months."
"I think it would be good for those considering donors to be able to talk to children who were concieved via sperm/egg donation and get their opinion on it. They may say they love their parents but they all admit when they meet their biological parents, they feel complete."
"The matter of using a donor for conception goes much deeper than a matter of conceiving and genetics. People carry a great deal of meaning from their origins, family, and genetics, even though it may not seem logical to you when you want a child so badly. If you do plan to use a donor, please raise that child with honesty about their origins. Finding out as an adult is very painful and difficult, however, knowing your origins is a matter of dignity, and should be available to all."
"I would say please, please, please be honest with your child about their origins from day 1. It is the right and best thing to do. My parents never told anybody that they'd used a sperm donor but the truth still came out eventually. I can't tell you how big a shock it was to discover at the age of 25 that the man I think of my dad isn't my biological father."
"I would tell them if it is at all possible to please use a known or willing to be known donor. I wish so much that I could meet and know my biodad, or at least have a photo of him."
"I would advise them not to hesitate to use donor conception, and that a family can be just like any other. I would advise them to be open with their child about their origins from a very early age - so early that they have no memory of being told and it is just a simple fact of life. I would encourage them to communicate to their children how special and wanted they are. I would also suggest that they have at least minimal medical, family, and ancestry information in case the child wanted it in the future. Photographs would also be nice. I would encourage them not to be threatened or worried about providing information to the child as they get older. They should understand that not everyone wants a relationship with biologic parents, but that information about one's origins is essential to identity."
Experiences of Donor Offspring:
A 53-year-old donor-conceived man tells his story of finding our that he is donor-conceived later in life: "My initial reaction was one of exhilaration - finally everything made sense. My second reaction was that nothing made sense - the bottom was dropping out of my life."
Susan Kane's letter
An open letter to the ASRM from Susan Kane, a donor-conceived person, who also has 2 donor-conceived children. An exerpt (it's worth reading the entire letter!):
"As anyone in the mental health field should know, decades and decades of adoption research has taught us that secrecy in families causes damage. It has taught us that learning that your parents are not your parents late in life wreaks havoc on your basic sense of trust. Most of all, adoption has taught us that genes matter.
They don't matter more than love. I never said they did. But I challenge you to find an adoption professional in North America today who would tell you that genetics is irrelevant in family creation. Genes matter -- today more than ever. Genes matter to donor families. These families have specifically pursued infertility treatment rather than adoption. The fertility industry *exists* because genes matter. Allowing people to pass on their genetic material is what fertility treatment *does*. It amazes me that genes can matter to the families and doctors you serve and yet both you and Allison Rosen can't believe that they also matter to *me*."
This letter was in response to Todd Essing's commentary: 2011 Forbes: Balancing the Rights of Donor Offspring With Those of Donors: But What About Parents?
Which was a response to the commentary by Naomi Cahn and Wendy Kramer:
2011 BioNews: The Birth of Donor Offspring Rights in the USA?
2014: The Guardian, My dad was a sperm donor. ...My lack of identity reflects this. "Donor-conceived" is a clumsy term, because, in relation to me, the man in the clinic was not a donor. He gave something to my mother, but nothing – less than nothing – to me. He is, or was, my father, but by co-operating with my artificial conception, he deprived me forever of the possibility of knowing him. I do not know his name, what he looks like, what his personality is, what his voice sounds like. I do not know my paternal grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my cousins.
2009 Queensland University of Technology: A Critical Analysis of Sperm Donation Practices
Joanna Rose's PhD thesis presents a critical analysis of donor conception practices from a child-centred perspective. It examines the personal and social effects of intentionally disrupting the unity of biological and social relatedness. Important implications are drawn from this analysis, which challenge the deliberate fracturing of kinship for the offspring. Comparisons are drawn with adoption experience and the stolen generations regarding kinship loss to help to guide and inform future policies, laws and responses to this practice and other types of reproductive technology developments.
2007 Behind Closed Doors: Moving Beyond Secrecy and Shame: When the Children Grow Up
A chapter written by Karen, a donor-conceived woman and mother.
2001 Queensland University of Technology Applied Ethics Seminar Series: From a ‘bundle of joy’ to a person with sorrow: Disenfranchised grief for the donor-conceived adult
This paper examines of the notion of disenfranchised grief for donor-conceived adults.