Voices From The Offspring: Stories of Being Welcomed by Donor Fathers
Curiosity about one’s origins is an essential part of being human. It’s no surprise that donor-conceived people want to learn where (and who) they come from just like everyone else. Often, this interest is accompanied by a fear of rejection. And while that is a real concern, a good number of donor-conceived individuals have been welcomed by their previously unknown biological fathers.
Below, 10 donor-conceived adults share the positive outcomes of attempting to make contact with their biological fathers (through sperm donation):
“I’ve found so much peace getting to know my bio father—not just peace from knowing him, but that my relationship with the parents who raised me has gotten stronger. I finally have no more shame or secrets to hide. My bio father has loved getting to know me and often tells me he checks his email every day to hear from me. He is excited to meet me and my children and have me meet my half siblings that he has raised! Discovering how three people have shaped me into who I am has brought me confidence and great joy.”
“In the course of my search for my biodad, I realized he was on the Donor Sibling Registry. I reached out, and he responded promptly. He said he’d read an article in 2005 or so (when he registered) about a woman looking for her bio-dad who was a donor and realized others might be looking for him. He hand-wrote a bunch of letters to his offspring and asked the clinic to send them. The clinic refused, so he registered on the DSR, but the clinic also refused to give him his donor number.
After we talked on the phone, he ordered a 23andMe test. He was clearly thrilled it was a match. He immediately made plans to visit me and my donor sibling in DC. We had a wonderful talk and a lovely dinner. He told me he always wanted more kids and that his life had been reordered. I think I can safely say that we’re both very happy to have found each other. We keep in touch and I look forward to the growth of our relationship.”
“I reached out to my biological father in January through CCB (California Cryobank) and got a response within a week. At first, he requested to remain anonymous while we emailed through an agent. In that first email, he stated ‘You are and have always been wanted by your donor.’ He’s gay, donated when he was 30, and also felt it was altruistic. In the second email, he sent pictures and a message detailing his family history and ancestry (back to the 1400s!). We emailed every day for about a week, then talked on the phone and video chatted. He told me that he’d love to kindle a relationship, slowly. He also said he told his dad about me (my grandpa I guess), his brothers, friends from his synagogue, and some in-laws. We’re meeting in August.
Other than when he wanted to communicate anonymously, it has been an incredibly welcoming, positive experience. I’m hoping throughout building our relationship, I can express how I’ve felt about being DC without fear of dismissal or misunderstanding. Overall, I’m grateful for my warm welcome and feel very fortunate for this experience and opportunity for a relationship. I know so many other DC individuals who do not have these opportunities.”
“My donor-dad calls me child and my children grandchildren. He has offered to meet with me but has implied that there will no contact between his marital children and me. He is very factual and says that genes are not the deciding fact for who he calls family and that genes have no meaning for him at all. That’s why he was a donor: he wanted to help families and the doctor he found very sympathetic.
I’m very happy to know who my donor dad is, but his attitude makes me feel like an object—the child a couple wished for, the child the doctor made, the child who should know that genes are not important. Plus: other people decided important things for me. First my parents decided not to tell be the truth because they thought it was better for me and for them. Now my donor dad decides that I’m not worthy of meeting half sibs because I’m sort of second-rate.”
“My siblings and I sent a joint letter to our father, an anonymous donor, after we discovered his identity through genetic genealogy. He was shocked to have been found. He knew that pregnancies and children resulted from his actions, but he never thought any of us would find him because everything was secret. The same day he received our letter, he called me and asked me questions to help him determine if we were really his kids. A paternity confirmed what we knew; he was our father. At first, I was terrified he would reject us, especially because he said that blood is not everything. But, he quickly followed that up with a statement about how people need to bond and that his heart, mind, and door would be open to us. Since we found him, he has welcomed us with open arms. We communicate and meet up frequently.
He views us finding him as something good. I feel incredibly lucky that he has been receptive. Being able to connect with and have a relationship with him is invaluable. I know my health history and where I get my sweet tooth and many other personality traits. My face finally makes sense when I look in the mirror. I am not sure what our relationship will be like as it evolves, but I am sure thankful to have the chance to see if it will grow.”
“My donor was on the voluntary register and willing to be contacted. We speak on the phone every few months and he’s been very supportive of me trying to uncover family history. He comes from a remarkable family, but has never actively looked into it, so I think he’s really appreciated how much I’ve embraced this new part of myself and the things I’ve uncovered. We’re not as close as some others in our situation (by choice) but we have a really positive relationship and I’m so glad to have connected with him.”
“I found my bio father on Ancestry.com, and after some initial denial about its accuracy, he embraced me and wanted to connect. We spoke on the phone and, three months later, my spouse and I visited him in his home for nearly a week. He was as excited as I was, despite having been an anonymous donor in the late 70s and early 80s. His wife was welcoming and had already been married to him at the time of his donating during med school. I try to avoid thinking about his motivation having solely been the money, since he’s such a nice and wonderful man. I tried my best not to make him feel guilty over the identity problems I had suffered my whole life up until that point. I had such a strong oxytocin feeling from being there with him (that’s cuddle hormone) that I could hardly think straight.
I left as a different person, with increased self confidence and a sense of belonging. I’m more comfortable expressing and asserting myself now and wish I had been able to function this way my whole life. It would have saved me from a lot of practical, relationship, career, and self-esteem issues. Now I’m focusing on a better future and keeping in touch with my father. It’s too bad he lives so far away, since I’d otherwise be visiting him more regularly. He doesn’t seem to be bugged at all whenever I contact him and is always positive.”
“I found my biological father through DNA testing and online family trees. He was shocked, but considers it a gift to be able to connect with his children. His mother was very into genealogy, so he has built an extensive family tree. In some of his first emails I got to learn about my ancestors from hundreds of years ago. I can now safely say I know more about my paternal line than my maternal, which is an amazing feeling after so many years of wondering.
I think it’s unfortunate that a lot of dc people feel that they will be intruding on their donor’s life if they search for them. We tend to think that we have less of a right to look for family just because of how we were conceived. As with most donors in the 80s, he was anonymous, so I had no idea how I would be received, but I am glad I took the risk. I now have full family medical history, a connection to my past, and and understanding of where the other half of my physical and personality traits come from. He never married nor had kids of his own, so he seems to be pretty thrilled to suddenly have family. I’d say that this experience has been just as rewarding for him as it has been for me. He lives in my hometown, not far from the house I grew up in, and now I see him every time I go home.”
“After finding out I was dc through DNA testing, I reached out to the half sibling I matched with, figuring she was my biological father’s daughter from marriage. She responded warmly and directed me to her brother. I spoke on the phone, emailed, and met with him, and all the while I was thrilled to find new family, but worried this meant my biological father did not want contact. Turns out he had been out of the country and just did not know yet.
Soon after, my biological father and I started emailing. He was warm and open. He wanted to tell me about himself and also learn about me. From what his son from marriage had said and from his emails, I knew there were similarities. When we met, there was a warmth and comfort there that cannot fully be described. We were both confused as to exactly what the relationship should be. He called me his daughter but yet acknowledged he isn’t my dad. He told me things straight from that secret little corner of my heart, things no one would know unless they stalked everything I had ever written and interviewed all my closest friends and family. He just understood some very key things about the way I operate–because he is the same.
I feel so much anxiety around the relationship, hoping it will continue to blossom, fearing rejection, but I am becoming more comfortable and hoping to meet up with him again and have him meet my daughter, his biological granddaughter. He is a good person, a little odd, a little insecure. He wasn’t always the greatest dad to the kids he raised. But he is human. And I am human because I come from him. And that connection is priceless.”
“I reached out to my donor when I matched with him on AncestryDNA. I found out because I matched with him, so my first email to him was: ‘So I found out that I came from a sperm donor today. I think you’re my sperm donor. I’m not looking for a dad, nor necessarily any form of relationship, but I would love to get some information on your medical history and where you come from.’ He responded warmly and with kindness. He told me I can ask any questions and even sympathized with me having just found out something so difficult to learn. He asked me if I was ok. He has since answered any and all questions, sent photos, and even checked on me the other day because I hadn’t responded to his last email in a few weeks.
He wants to meet me and my sister. We plan to meet him in the next few months. I feel really lucky that I’ve got such a kind and compassionate man for a donor. It’s made this experience of discovering my true origins that much easier to accept.”