I never knew I was a donor baby until 33…Tell your kids!!

Submitted on: April 21, 2019

So, my story is the same in many ways as others on here. However, it’s different in one big way. It all started when I decided to take an Ancestry DNA test. I was primarily concerned with the ethnicity percentages. There had always been a family legend that we had a lot of Native American genes, and I wanted to see how true it was. When the report came back, there were no huge surprises. I was mostly French Canadian, Irish, and then there was inexplicably some southern European, but it was small (9%) so I didn’t think much of it. I didn’t really explore the DNA matches too closely until a year later when I got an email that I had a close relative DNA match. I checked to see, and to my surprise, I had two close relatives on there that were extremely likely to be my aunts. The problem was, I had never heard of these women. More than that, I could see their two sons had also taken the test, and they were listed as 1st cousins. So I started digging. I came to find that of all the DNA matches, they fell into 3 categories: my mom’s father’s family, mom’s mother’s family, and mystery family. There were no matches to my dad’s family. I now knew that my mom either used a sperm donor or cheated. I remembered back to my mom telling me how difficult it was for them to conceive a child. They got married at 19, and they didn’t have me until 33. The sperm donor angle made more and more sense. So I decided to confront her.

I went over my mother’s house one morning, and I asked directly, “Who is my father?” She said, “Your father is your father.” I asked again, “Who is my father?” This time she responded angrily and defiantly, “Your father is your father.” I replied, “Mom, there are four DNA tests that have confirmed my relation to another family, and I had one of my cousins on my father’s side tested (bluff), and it said we had no relation. So I’m going to ask one last time, and if you don’t give me the truth, don’t bother talking to me again. Who’s my father.” Now she had to think for a minute before she said, “I was artificially inseminated.” She said my father was sterile, and despite years of trying, he was unable to have a child. They both wanted children though, so they decided on a donor. She then told me she had no plans to ever tell me, and they had thrown out all donor information to try and bury the truth.

The part that angers me the most about my conversation with my mother, and how she’s handling it, is that its really all about her in her mind. She asked questions like, “Are you going to go and blow everything up now and tell everyone?” I don’t know, but if I do, it’s MY decision to make! All she’s concerned with is keeping her little secret, like it’s such a shame. She kept exclaiming, “F*** those God damn DNA tests,” and “I wish you never found this out.” These are the comments that piss me off the most. You wish your son never found out the truth about who he is, and where he came from? What an absolutely rotten sentiment to have.

This is where my situation is different than most others on here. My “dad,” or my mother’s husband (I’m not sure what to call him), was never really a dad to me either. He committed suicide because of PTSD (from bad things he saw as a firefighter) when I was only 5, so I really have no recollection or connection to him either. I feel sorry for him, as his life seemed to be very tragic and difficult, but I don’t feel any really connection. After his suicide, I also became estranged from his family. So there really is no connection there either. There’s not even a biological one. If anything, my grandfather (mother’s father) played a FAR greater roll as dad. It just makes the situation so much more complicated. I’m getting married this summer, and it’s made me ask so many questions. Why would I pass on that name to my children when there’s no emotional or biological connection to it? Why would I even ask my wife to have it? I understand that he played a crucial role in the decision that made me, which is why I’d keep my last name for myself. However, maybe I’d want to pass my grandfather’s name because he was more of a dad. I’m not really sure about any of it. I have more questions than answers at this point.

This is where my situation is the same as many on here. I’m really floored and don’t know how to feel. I used to take a lot of pride in my French Canadian heritage. I used to wear a fleur-de-lis necklace as a symbol of it (I haven’t worn it since finding out). I have a snow owl tattoo (national bird of Quebec). I also found meaning in my father’s occupation. I became a firefighter, just as he was. I’ve even made lieutenant. I thought there was an aspect of it being my destiny to walk that path as well. Now, I’m very much questioning my very occupation and choices in life.

I’ve done research into my donor family, and it’s made so many things make more sense about me. They’re doctors, lawyers, and business executives. My mother’s family is basically what you’d call white trash. Quite literally I have an aunt in a trailer park, and many uncles and cousins with learning disabilities. I’m the first to graduate from college. They always called me the “golden child.” I got straight A’s in school, and graduated second in my class at Northeastern. Now the mystery of where I got my intelligence from is solved, but again I question my decisions now. Maybe I should change my career path? It gives me another level of believing that I can do those things too. Seeing what others with my genetics are doing shows me what my ceiling is, and maybe how I haven’t reached it. Perhaps what I thought was my destiny wasn’t at all.

I’ve tried contacting my donor family. As I said, there are two aunts and two 1st cousins on Ancestry DNA. However, none have responded back. I sent them two messages. I sent the first before I found out the truth from my mother, and I was looking for answers and trying to see if they had a brother. I sent a second message after I found out the truth. I told them that I understand donors often want anonymity and that I’m sorry if I caused any trouble in their family. My donor was just a broke kid in law school, and he figured he could make a buck and maybe help out a family in need. I’m sure he never foresaw DNA testing and the Internet back in 1985. It would be nice if someone from that family contacted me though. I’d really love to see if they look like me, or have the same mannerisms. Like I’ve said before, I’m really an anomaly amongst my mother’s family, so I figure I must be a lot like my donors family, and I guess I’d really like to see. I also grew up as an only child. I’m always going to check in on Ancestry now. Maybe some day they’ll message back. Or perhaps some day another donor half brother or half sister will pop up and be confused and looking for answers, and I’d like to be there for them.

So this is a message for parents that are considering using a sperm donor. I totally understand your choice, and agree with why you’d do it. I certainly appreciate being alive! I also feel that I got far greater genetics from my donor than my mom could have gotten from a natural mate. However, you need to tell your child at a relatively young age. If they find out in his/her 30’s or 40’s on their own, it really becomes a ground shaking experience. Once you’re in your 30’s, you’ve build up a pretty strong identity of who you are, and to have that come crashing down in one fell swoop is really hard. Furthermore, you need to save family medical information about the donor. This type of information can save your child’s life, and ignoring it is just plain irresponsible.