Tell Me the Truth about My Conception
January of 2019, my boyfriend of a short 4 months purchased me this cool gift where you submit your DNA to a website and it tells you about your ancestry, your traits, and your potential genetic illnesses. One thing that is less advertised, is that it also connects you to the people who share your DNA.
Here is my story.
I received the results to this 23 and Me test & I eagerly opened it, excited to see what my true background was. I am racially ambiguous, and although we’ve always grown to believe we are bi-racial, 3 quarters black and 1 quarter white, I was always too pale to be only 1 quarter white. I constantly got the question of “What’s your background, what is your mix” & whenever I would respond, it would always receive a defiant answer of “No way. I don’t believe that. You don’t look like that.” After 27 years, I managed to master this “What is your background” question down to a science so that no one would have follow-up questions or comments, breaking my response down to my exact percentage of what I was, racially.
At 27 years old, my truth and those answers were shattered.
From this test, I learned that I had a half sibling. I remember first learning this, laughing, thinking “what a joke. This is obviously not real.” But it haunted me all night long. I had a horrible feeling. I had to find out if this website was legit. I asked my boyfriend, hey, how accurate is the information they give you? He boasted of how great the site was, how reputable it was, & how innovative the technology was for us to discover the truth about our genetic makeup. So I then told him, “Well it says I have a half-sibling.” His only response was “Fuck.”
This half-sibling was odd to me. My parents were married, I had only ever known of one other sibling (my sister), and to make matters even more confusing, this half sibling lived in a country that my parents would have never gone to. How could this be? Who was her father? Who was my father? I told only 3 people close to me & they all said the website must have made a mistake. They didn’t believe what this could mean for me & my family & tried to comfort me by telling me perhaps it was all a huge mistake. I wanted to believe that, but deep down, I had an unsettling feeling that I could not escape.
I never trusted my mother to tell me the real truth about things. She always wanted to “protect” me & as a result, had hidden things in the past. So I decided there was no way I could confront her… I concluded she would lie to me & I would feel even more confused.
The months passed… I tried to forget about 23 and me & everything that went along with the feelings of confusion & fear. Every now & then I would hear stories similar to mine & wonder if this website was truly valid. But each time, I swept it under the rug & I tried to forget, it was much easier that way.
It was 11 months later when another half sibling reached out to me. I will never forget this person… This person changed my life, gave me a safe space to share the new information we were both about to receive, and this person pushed me to speak to my mother because I deserved the truth.
After several pushes from my half sibling and several martinis later… I finally confronted my mother in tears, hysterically, “Tell me the truth about my conception right now.”
Indeed. I was conceived through sperm donation. My father was not my real father. I would never know my real father or the person who created the other half of me. I was now an entirely different race. Half Hispanic and half Black. I had to relearn my new identity.
I was not angry with my mom. My parents desperately wanted children, I understood that. How devastating it must have been for them to learn that my father was infertile & could not create life; a gifted human function that people take for granted every single day. They tried all means necessary & did not stop until they could have me. I am grateful to be alive.
I think what I have taken from this experience is the following that I would like to share & help others understand:
1. Race is not synonymous with culture – you can be any race participating in any culture, it all depends on your geographic location & your environment;
2. Family can sometimes be who you choose & not what your blood tells you;
3. Blood does not make someone your family;
4. Life is crazy – embrace the unexpected – and from one of my favourite quotes “We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well, that Death will tremble to take us.”
Our family does not talk about what happened. We have all been sworn to secrecy. Even my father does not know the truth (they tried both the donor’s sperm and his sperm – hoping one would get my mother pregnant, which it eventually did). But, I have been sharing my story with various friends, strangers, colleagues, and platforms such as these because that is my right. I am grateful that my parents did what they did, because without my donor, I would not be alive, but I deserve to have my voice heard & to share my story.