Dear Donor: Part 2
Letters from donor conceived individuals to their biological fathers or other genetic family members in search of information and human connection.
My name is Jo*. I live in Iowa and was born in 1994 with the help of an anonymous sperm donor. I recently took an Ancestry DNA test and was matched with my biological grandfather. With a little bit of digging, I found that you are his only son (if I am correct), which would make you my donor and biological father.
I want to start by saying that I have a great mom and dad who raised me. I am not looking for a “dad” or for anything from you except some medical information and to possibly know the man who I share half of my DNA with. I would love to sit down and chat sometime if that is something you would want. But I understand how shocking this must be! Please take as much time as you need to process. Feel free to contact me any time.
You are probably wondering why you are receiving a letter from a complete stranger. Please give me the chance to introduce myself and explain my purpose. My name is Amanda*. I am a 40 years old, married with two small children. I work as a physician assistant in vascular surgery. I have been on a search for my biological family for over two years now. I have spent a lot of time, money and effort over these past two years in my search. I have also written many letters, but I’m hoping this will be the last one. I believe you and your family may be who I have been looking for.
I have struggled with what and how much to tell you. I have gotten a lot of advice over this matter. In the end, I feel I must tell you everything and not hold back information. This is because I am a straight-shooter by nature. I don’t lie and don’t know how to tell you only part of the truth. I feel you deserve to know everything.
I was conceived with the help of an anonymous sperm donation in 1977. I was not aware of this fact until two years ago. When I learned that the father who raised me was not my biological father I was devastated, but knew immediately that it was the truth. My whole life I felt I didn’t look like other members of my family and questioned my parents if I was adopted. I always felt like there was something wrong, but could not articulate what. In that surreal moment, the puzzle pieces finally fell into place.
All my parents knew was that the donor was a medical student in the Philadelphia area and was blood type Rh negative. In those moments, I realized that I may never be able to find my biological father and family. It was literally unbelievable! How can this be happening? One half of my family tree disappeared and was replaced by emptiness. Everyone has the right to know where they come from. I was being denied this basic human right and there was nothing I could do about it. I cried that day and many days since. I was angry at the world, my parents, my mom’s doctor and the medical system that would allow this to happen. Despite the enormity and impossibility the task, I knew that I would never stop trying to find my biological father.
A few months later, I realized that there was something I could do. I put my DNA online with all the major DNA home test kits available; Ancestry, 23andme, familytreeDNA looking to see if I could find a close DNA match. Unfortunately, I only matched with 2-3rd cousins on my paternal side. So, I hired the experts at Ancestry to help me. After a lot of time and money, they came to the conclusion that your brother was likely my biological father. I was crushed when I learned that he had passed away in 2003. How could the world be so cruel? I couldn’t give up on finding my biological family. It was a burning wound I felt everyday. Even if my brain wanted me to give it up, my heart would just not allow it.
Henry, would you be willing to help me? I feel you are my last hope to end this mystery. I was never supposed to know the truth about my conception. I kept persisting with questions over the years because my heart knew the truth. I believe that everything happens for a reason. I am trying to right the wrong that was done to me the moment I was conceived and perpetuated for over 40 years. You see, when the people you are supposed to trust the most tell you that the little voice inside you is wrong, you grow to doubt yourself on a deep level. I am trying to heal from this. Part of that healing is confirming who is my biological father and family.
If you are my uncle, I would love to find out more about my father. I still can’t believe I will never be able to ask him questions myself, I will never look into his eyes, give him a hug or be able to say thank you. This is not how my story was supposed to end, but no matter how much internal bargaining I do, I cannot change this reality. I would love to meet you and your family if you are willing, but if not, I will respect your privacy. I have always known what it feels like to be in a Jewish family, but I have no idea what it is like to be Italian.
I know this is a lot to take in right now. I know that this story sounds absolutely crazy. It IS crazy, but I assure you, it is the truth. I am writing to you to see if you would be willing to take a DNA test to confirm what two separate genealogist are telling me; that your brother is my biological father.
Please see the pictures of me and my family which I have enclosed. Do you see the resemblance?
Sincerely and with hope,
Dear Doctor White*,
The reason why I am writing you might come as a shock but I hope that you find time to read this letter in its entirety to understand why. My mother did not have me via the traditional route of meeting a man, marrying him, and having a family with him. After years of attempting that approach, she resorted to a very non-standard method of having a child. She was referred to a fertility specialist, who I believe was one of your medical school professors.
This specialist was involved in assisted reproduction and one of the methods he utilized was artificial insemination. He would often use sperm samples from his students to help infertile couples and single women have children. Well, I have very strong reasons to believe that you may have supplied a sperm sample and that sample was used to conceive me back in 1986.
At this point, you probably have the urge to take this letter over to the shredder and destroy it. Before you do that, realize that I am in no way, shape, or form attempting to become a member of your family. I do not want a “dad” nor do I want to assume any sort of role as your son. I also am not writing this letter due to financial motives as I am very financially stable (my mother is too).
I understand that both you and my mother signed contracts. You waived your parental rights and my mother agreed to not seek you out for parental support. This letter is no attempt whatsoever at establishing new legal precedent. So what now? The biggest reason why many donor-conceived people like myself attempt to contact biological donor-parents is for health information. We often find ourselves drawing blanks and telling doctors that health history from one parent is unknown. The other biggest reason is just pure curiosity. I was curious when I was 14-15 years old, but I honestly didn’t know where to begin. There was no commercial DNA testing back in 2002-2003. Some would say that looking for my biological father would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. No, it was more like looking for a needle in a 1000 haystacks with my hands tied behind my back. So I gave up.
After submitting my DNA to 23andMe, it turns out we weren’t related, but later on your sister showed up as a match. Even after finding a close-related relative, I was still just not that curious. I have very stressful demanding job that requires me to compartmentalize issues I have outside of work. I honestly have gotten so used to not knowing who my biological father is, let alone not having a father at all, that it just was not that important to seek out my biological father. I will admit I was much more interested in finding potential half-siblings when I first got on 23andMe.
If you haven’t thrown this letter away yet, I’ll go ahead and tell you about myself. I can honestly say I have the greatest job in the world. I have the best family in the world. I am overall a very happy person who takes things very lightly often with a sense of humor.
I now leave the next communication between us up to you. The ball is in your court. When I wrote this letter I had no intention of showing up at your front door or disrupting your life. However, I would like to say thank you. Thank you for donating so that my mother could have a child. Thank you for donating so that she could have me. (My mother would also like to say thank you too).
*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the letter writer and recipient.
Some letters have been edited for length and to remove personal details and/or identifying information. Read part one here.