My mom told me in a Mexican restaurant when I was 18. The whole time she was apologizing for what she was about to say to me and I honestly thought she was going to tell me that she had cancer or something. Once she turned that down, I began to play a guessing game, asking anything that came to mind. I hated surprises and the fact that she was nervous made me nervous, so I just needed to guess what it was while also attempting to lighten the mood. Through my guessing game, I playfully asked “am I adopted” expecting to get a much different response. Instead, she said “well, you’re getting warmer.” She told me that her and my father waited too long to have a kid. When they started trying, she had already stopped ovulating. The two of them danced around the subject of adoption but, in the end, didn’t want to get caught up in the law and battles with the biological parents. They decided on IVF and donor conception. After getting an egg donor and testing my father’s sperm, they found out he had a low sperm count. The only way to have a successful pregnancy was to be inseminated with donor sperm. However, my dad still wanted to be a father so they included his sperm as well as the donor sperm. From this, my twin brother and I were born. While there was no question of who was the father of my brother (because my dad and him are practically the same person) they weren’t sure if my dad was my biological dad. A few weeks later, my dad and I took a paternity test which I never thought I would ever do. I used to hear stories of donor conception and think “wow, that sucks, I’m glad I would never have to go through that” then low-and-behold. My mom thought she was doing me a favor telling me at the time she did since I was learning about it in college; however, that just made it worse. Hearing about donor conceived people really reinforced my current family structure and then days later it was ripped away from me.
Anyway, after a few more weeks, the test results came back negative; my dad wasn’t my biological father. I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t even cry right away. I just called my dad and told him he will always be my father no matter what. This day turned out to be the worst day of my life. I was in a haze. I had to go to work and put a mask on for everyone. There was no one there I could talk to about this and there was no one that would understand. I only knew one person who was related to me and that was my twin brother who is now my half-brother. My identity had faltered. I didn’t know who I was and I still don’t.
Things got easier until I began to get really sick. Before I found out I was donor concieved, I was battling anemia and vitamin deficiencies in addition to having fainting spells and stomach pains. The vitamins made it better but all of a sudden I went back to my normal, sick self. I lost 10-15 pounds (and I am already underweight to begin with), I began feeling faint, shaky, nauseous. I couldn’t eat. My doctors tested me for Celiac Disease which came back positive. I most likely inherited it from one of my donors. This was a huge scare for me. It made me fear what else I might have inherited. It makes me sick that I have to rely on 20 year old papers to tell me what is in my genes. It is also disgusting that either the donors fail to update their medical information or that the banks refuse to give new information to me. This is my health and my livelihood we are talking about!
My life now consists of constant struggles and fears. I look in the mirror and don’t know where I got my almond-shaped eyes, my pouty lower lip, my small ears. And even though I have my brother and some pictures of other half siblings to compare myself to, it starts to become a blur and a complicated task to compare my physique to them since we only share half of our genes.
This is the hardest part: realizing I will never get my identity back.