Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I Took A DNA Test and Discovered I Was Conceived with Donor Sperm”

I know I need to see a therapist, and I’m on it, but I was also wondering if you or your readers might be able to offer me advice. Recently, I did the 23andme kit, the DNA sampling that tells you your ancestry and some health risks. I was mostly curious and did it for fun and because I seriously didn’t think I’d learn anything that life-altering given my family background. Therefore, I was confounded when the results told me that I have nine(!) half-siblings. Initially, I thought this must be a mistake, or that my father was a lot more unfaithful to my mother than I knew. My parents are divorced and I know he had affairs, but once I thought about it some more I realized that there’s no way my father had more than nine children with other women without it having had serious repercussions for our family as I was growing up.

I reached out to one of the half-siblings listed, who told me that she was conceived with a sperm donor. She also discovered this news through 23andme and has been in touch with the majority of the half-siblings listed. We spoke on the phone for a while, and all the details she gave me line up: the clinic’s location relative to where my parents lived at the time, the dates of when the donor sold his sperm, and the donor’s ethnicity. I knew my parents struggled with infertility before I was born because my mom had mentioned this to me as a way of explaining why they didn’t have children for so long after getting married, but it was always framed as though it was an issue she had.

To say that I had absolutely no idea that I was conceived with donor sperm is an understatement. My parents never even hinted that this might be the case. I don’t know what to do next. I feel betrayed, incredibly sad, and overwhelmed. Should I talk to my mother first? My father? What do I say? Should I talk to them with my husband there or by myself? Or is it better to never let them know I know? I don’t have a close relationship with either of them, but my relationship with both of them is fine. We check in with each other regularly, and we give each other updates on our lives — and my child’s ongoings. If it helps to know, I was conceived in the late 1970s when donor sperm was a lot less regulated than it is today. I haven’t even begun to think about whether I want to reach out to my genetic half-siblings and the donor.

This might not be the usual type of question you answer, but I think you’ve given really good advice about how to communicate with family members about difficult topics and when it’s best to leave things unsaid. Thank you for your time. — Stunned by DNA Discovery

Wow, what a shocking discovery! I can completely understand the mixed emotions you’re feeling — you are entitled to all of them, and they all make sense. However, you need to remember that your conception, or the way you were conceived, was not done AT you. Keeping it a secret was not done AT you, and it certainly wasn’t done to betray you. Your parents wanted you desperately, and despite whatever happened in their marriage and what their relationship is now and what your relationship is with each of them now, their keeping your donor conception a secret was done in what they believed (and were likely advised) was your best interest, and they could not have known in the late 70s and 80s, or even 90s, how accessible DNA testing would one day be (and neither, it should be said, could the sperm donor). They had no roadmap for what they went through to conceive you and how to raise you afterward. There were no examples for how, whether, or when to tell you about your biological origins. And, in addition, there were surely complicated feelings around their infertility struggle, and revisiting those feelings through the sharing of related details may have been a scary and painful proposition, even if they felt it was best for you to know.

I would imagine that, even to this day, those complicated feelings remain, and as entitled as you are to the feelings you are experiencing now, they are entitled the feelings they had and likely still have around the status of your conception, and you need to be thoughtful about stirring those feelings now. First, I would think about what it is you want from your parents at this point. What would be your intention in telling them that you know about the sperm donor? What would you hope for it to elicit from your parents, how likely are you to get what it is you want, is what you want worth disrupting their peace, and is telling them you know about this long-held secret the only/best way to get what you want? If you don’t even know what it is you want, you should sit with that question for a while and work with a therapist to figure it out.

Maybe you want nothing from them at all. Maybe what you want is to know more about your genetic makeup. Or you want a relationship with your biological half-siblings or the sperm donor. Ask yourself if telling your parents what you know is even necessary in pursuing what you want if it doesn’t directly involve them. And then ask yourself if what you want is… really what you want — if it’s in your best interest. For example, the sperm donor may very well not be interested in having any kind of relationship with the nine grown children his sperm helped conceived. And any kind of genetic information you might glean from him is probably already available to you.

If what you want is something that can only or mainly come from your parents — an explanation, an apology, a confirmation of what you’ve discovered — I would again urge you to consider the value in that versus the disruption it is likely to cause. That’s not to say there wouldn’t be value or that the value wouldn’t be worth the disruption. Maybe, like the old adage says, the truth will set everyone free. Maybe it will. But free from what?? And then what? What comes next?

Every action (and, often, inaction) has a consequence. You are experiencing the consequences of several actions (and inactions): first your existence is a consequence of an action; additionally, your current feelings are the consequence of both a secret kept from you and your taking a DNA test. Whatever action you now take in reaction to the news you’ve just learned is going to send ripples of consequences through your family ties, which will likely result in more action and consequences. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But, just as it was for you seeing the results of that DNA test: the potential fall-out will likely be unexpected and even shocking. Shock does not usually result in well-considered action (or reaction). So, my advice to you is to let the shock of your discovery soften before you take any action and to be as thoughtful and considerate as you can about what it is you want to happen next, especially in regards to the kinds of relationships you want with family members (genetic and otherwise).

The next steps you take are going to lead you in a particular direction; before you take the next step, make sure you’re heading in a direction you want to go.

Related: “My Husband Has a Secret 14-Year-Old Child From an Affair When We Were Newlyweds” and “Should I Tell My Kids Our Family Secret?”

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy​(AT)​dearwendy.com.

65 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Ridgebacklover June 14, 2018, 8:52 am

    Definitely be careful with this one. I understand this is shocking and get why it’s upsetting, but be grateful that you had 2 parents who loved you and wanted you. I guess this depends on what kind of relationship you have with your dad, but if it’s even remotely good, remember that he is your dad. And before you confront your parents, think about how hard it might be for him. To him, you are his daughter. And why would they tell you? Does it change anything? Not really. They are your parents, and you should be happy to have both of them. A lot of people aren’t so lucky. So tread carefully with this one. I definitely agree with Wendy – you should talk to a therapist and really take some time to think on it before taking any actions. I’m not sure I would ever bring it up to my parents. It’s not relevant. They are your parents, and they obviously love you.

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      Lisa June 14, 2018, 9:43 am

      I could not disagree more with your comment. She has every right to bring this up with her parents. They were wrong for not telling her, and I don’t care what their reasons were for not telling her. Genetics do not make a Father. So he is still her Father. They love her, but not enough to tell her the truth. Their decision was extremely selfish, and now she has to live with the consequences of it. She should not protect him, after all they did not protect her?

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        anonymousse June 14, 2018, 11:38 am

        What consequences does she have to live with?

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        csp June 14, 2018, 11:49 am

        Parents were given VERY different advice in the 70s than they are today. Once the culture changed, it probably seemed painful and ultimately irrelevant to tell her. To judge the parents based on hindsight seems unfair.

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        Fyodor June 14, 2018, 1:23 pm

        “What consequences does she have to live with?”

        Having been conceived and born.

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        CanadaGoose June 14, 2018, 1:57 pm

        Of course she can bring it up but I don’t understand your outrage. It seems to me you have not struggled with infertility. As someone who did, how she was conceived by loving parents who wanted her and tried to have her really makes no difference.

        A parent’s responsibility is to protect their child and I am sure they didn’t want her to feel less theirs. I do not see what you could mean by them not protecting her. This does note seem selfish to me at all, let alone extremely. “Live with the consequences” – What consequences? The consequence is life but that’s really it. Sperm donors must provide medical info. It’s a surprise but all it really says is that her parents wanted her enough to do whatever it took to get her. Millions of children should be so lucky.

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        ron June 14, 2018, 3:01 pm

        Lisa —
        Of course they protected her. They protected and nurtured her all during her childhood. I think your pov is seriously fucked up and an example of everyone has to be a victim. She should not protect the man who has nurtured her all her life? Frankly, your view is obscene. You are right that genetics do not make a father. Hence no need to tell her. No point to tell her. If the father finds it embarrassing to be infertile, he has a right not to discuss that with his daughter. You are extremely judgmental, in a case where no wrong exists. Methinks you are upset about something in your own life to be this nasty.

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    JD June 14, 2018, 8:57 am

    While entitled to the emotions LW feels I don’t get feeling sad and betrayed. Like Wendy said no one did something to you or hurt you. So your parents wanted you so bad they made it happen. So many parents don’t want their children and make it known. Your parents wanted you sooo bad. That sounds great to me. Many people feel uncomfortable talking about this type of thing now let alone in the 70s when it was far less common. I can’t imagine telling your parents you feel betrayed. I think it would break their hearts.

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      Kate June 14, 2018, 9:02 am

      I get what you’re saying, but I do understand. She was told this man was her father, with everything that goes along with that. It’s like not being told you’re adopted and then finding out when you’re an adult. My cousin, born in 1978, was adopted as a newborn and was always told he was adopted, along with how much they love him and wanted him. Finding out someone you always thought was your bio parent, actually isn’t, would feel like lies and betrayal.

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        BakerBabe June 14, 2018, 9:13 am

        Exactly! ^ Saw this post after I typed mine out 😛

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        Lisa June 14, 2018, 9:46 am

        Agreed I do not know what the others posting are smoking lol. It is a huge betrayal. As soon as my friends’ children who were adopted were old enough to understand they told them. The parents were protecting themselves not the child. It is wrong what they did.

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        ron June 14, 2018, 10:22 am

        But, for all intents an purposes, the man who raised her, who was there for her from t he day she was born IS her father and needs give no apology/explanation for the biology. Posters here often talk fairly contemptuously of ‘sperm donor’ fuck-and-leave fathers who have no role is raising their bio-child and that the guy who marries the mother, adopts the child, and nurtures that child for almost the entirety of life is the true father. Well this guy goes one step further than that. He and LW’s mother tried very hard to have a baby without medical intervention and then jointly planned to have a baby by donor sperm. The child, LW, was a joint cooperative projects of her parents who both regarded her as their child. There is zero betrayal here. It is not a lie.

        How do we treat lesbian parents, who decide which member of the couple will carry the embryo to term using donor sperm? They are each the child’s parent, and legally treated as such, especially if married.

        The only time genetics legitimately rears its head is

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        Purpose June 14, 2018, 10:30 am

        What @ron said. Why the person who donated their sperm necessarily be connected to the person – as a father – in any way? They made a donation, and they didn’t do it for the outcome. The person who helped make the conception happen through support, and then raised the child their whole life long and took on all the responsibility related to that, is the real and actual father.

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      Lisa June 14, 2018, 9:44 am

      She was lied to her entire life about a really big thing?! They absolutely did something to hurt her. If the parents are heart broken when she tells them that is their fault not hers.

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        JD June 14, 2018, 10:37 am

        Wow just so nope. She was not hurt or betrayed. She had loving parents who raised her. DNA does not make a parent. Saying “I am your dad” is not a lie. I doubt ANY convo ever came up where she said “BUT are you my BIO dad” and he lied. Over reaction to say it’s her parents fault if they are hurt and they hurt her. Silly.

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        Kate June 14, 2018, 10:45 am

        I think you guys are missing something. It’s not just about her dad not being her bio dad. It’s that a whole side of her family she thought she was descended from, she isn’t. That absolutely matters. You grow up with your family history in mind. My dad’s side of the family has a tree going back hundreds of years. I identify with that as my heritage. It’s a part of my identity and sense of self and it matters. It would be a lot to process if I found out half my origin is something totally unknown and no one told me that.

        Another cousin of mine is from an Eastern European country and has a unique look. She looks Asian, but she’s, I guess, Cossack? And her ansestors were great horsemen. And she loves riding horses. Her parents have been very open and honest with her about her heritage, everything they know about her bio mom, the circumstances of the adoption. Imagine if they withheld that from her? I know a sperm donor is different than a bio mom, but still. Be honest with kids.

        I am sure her parents did the best they knew how and had good intentions, but of course she feels misled and betrayed.

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      ron June 14, 2018, 10:24 am

      continued: if there is a need to investigate the possibility of a genetic disease.

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        Kate June 14, 2018, 10:28 am

        I don’t disagree that he’s her father, but she was still lied to, so I do understand needing to work through feelings of betrayal. We don’t lie to adopted kids anymore, for many reasons. We are honest with them about their origins.

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        ron June 15, 2018, 9:24 am

        I just don’t think she was lied to or betrayed. There was no reason to tell her and the advice at the time was not to tell her. Artificial insemination at the time was performed with a mix of husband’s and donor’s sperm, so there was no guarantee who the father was. That was done on purpose because it was believed to be better for the marriage and family as a whole. We didn’t have genetic analysis back then, so the truth couldn’t be determined.

        Donor sperm is not adoption. In the case of adoption, the adoptive parents are in the same position: neither is a biological relative of the child. In the case of donor sperm, the mother is the bio-mom and the father is not biologically related. For those giving huge importance to knowing the bio-dad, this makes the father what? Just the step-dad or husband of the mother?

        You said in another post that the knowledge of the bio-dad was vitally important, because a lot of your personal identity related to knowing and identifying with your father’s long researched family geneology. But what would it do to your world if you learned tomorrow that your father is not your bio-dad. Pretty shattering, I suspect. Which brings up the question of what is the right time to tell a child, if the child is told at all.

        With advances in genetics, it is now important to know what genetic defects you possess. Testing is cheaper and cheaper, so in not many years it will likely be commonplace to have this check done on yourself, regardless of the health condition of those whom you believe to be your parents. Parental knowledge isn’t always that helpful. My father had hemochromatosis, which can be fatal if untreated, but he didn’t learn of this until he was 80, so I didn’t have the test until I was nearly 60.

        The sad truth with sperm donor insemination is that history, mostly learned from lawsuits, is that the clinic’s identification of the sperm donor is quite often wrong. Some clinic owners have been the bio-father of dozens of children, while others have substituted the sperm of less illustrious donors for that of the prime movers whose supply they have sold out. Clinics have even been caught supply sperm from men of different race than they told the mother. This suggests the record-keeping of that particular clinic is sloppy to non-existent.

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        Kate June 15, 2018, 9:40 am

        “But what would it do to your world if you learned tomorrow that your father is not your bio-dad. Pretty shattering, I suspect”

        YES!!!! That’s my point. And if I found out my parents let me believe that and never told me, I would feel hurt, betrayed, lost.

        Yes, they lied to her. Maybe that was the advice at the time, but it doesn’t change the fact they lied. I looked online yesterday and there’s all kinds of advice on how to tell little kids their dad is a sperm donor. When you’re educating a small child about how babies are made (which was done in the early 80s with graphic picture books, I can attest), you say something like, “Mommy wanted a baby so much that we got a man to donate his “seeds” or sperm, blah blah blah.” You ARE supposed to tell little kids. You’re not supposed to lie to them. As everyone on here has said, maybe that wasn’t the case in 1983, though I am not sure about that, and that’s fine, but nevertheless I totally understand why she feels betrayed.

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        Kate June 15, 2018, 9:42 am

        *that their bio father was a sperm donor

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    BakerBabe June 14, 2018, 9:12 am

    I didn’t understand feeling sad either, but obviously the OP feels a whole range of emotions right now that I assume most of us can’t relate to, since this experience hasn’t happened to most of us.

    I assume OP felt betrayed mostly because she discovered this by chance and on her own, without having the main actors in this situation (her parents) telling her upfront. I would think it feels a lot like not knowing you were adopted and unceremoniously finding that out. While mentioning the feeling of betrayal can definitely hurt her parents, she should definitely still talk about that feeling with them.

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  • thatswhat-she

    Megan June 14, 2018, 9:29 am

    I’d also throw out there that some less reputable fertility doctors used donor sperm (or their own!) without their patients’ knowledge when IVF first came about.It’s probably unlikely, but it’s possible that your parents may not know that your dad isn’t your bio-dad.

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    • avatar

      anonymousse June 14, 2018, 11:43 am

      I was just thinking along these lines, or even that her father didn’t even know the mother used donor sperm.

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      Emily June 15, 2018, 8:44 am

      Yes this. And in the 60s and 70s it was somewhat common for the fathers sperm to be mixed with donor sperm. Something about how it would boost the unhealthy sperm but really what happens is the other sperm impregnantes the mom. Some people had no idea their doctors did this and some did and just decided to believe the husband was the biological dad. Her parents might have no idea.

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    Vathena June 14, 2018, 9:31 am

    I agree with the advice to sit with it for a bit, and work with a therapist. It’s definitely a thing that can shake up a person’s view of themselves, and who they thought they were. One of my best friends recently had this experience – but her parents were the ones to tell her that she was actually conceived using a sperm donor. She was 38 at the time and had lived her entire life not knowing that her dad (who is a wonderful guy) was not her biological father. While it changes nothing about how much her parents love her, it has really upended the way she thinks about herself and her life. It would for anyone – looking back on every memory you’ve ever made, your whole childhood, and realizing that the two most important people in your life were carrying a big secret about you the whole time! While not something done “at” or “to” someone, it can be quite a blow to one’s equilibrium. LW, you sound like a thoughtful person – I’m sure you will be okay no matter what. Remember that at the end of the day, your parents wanted and loved you, and you’re still YOU, you just have a little more to your story and it will take some time to absorb it all.

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      Lisa June 14, 2018, 9:48 am

      I can see experiencing betrayal trauma as well. If your parents have lied to you your whole life, who can you trust? How could you not know? Are you dumb to trust people? it is a huge betrayal by her parents.

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      • avatar

        Ron June 14, 2018, 11:19 am

        Her parents did NOT lie to her. Words have a specific meaning. Not telling somebody something which that person later decides she would have wanted to know is not lying. Lying would be telling LW that her father is her bio-dad.

        Also, the parents likely didn’t know that her father wasn’t her bio-dad. It was standard practice back in the day for donor sperm to be mixed with the husband’s sperm, so that paternity was unclear and the couple could try to think of the child as the bio-child of each of them. And… there probably was a 10% chance that this was true.

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        Kate June 14, 2018, 11:26 am

        Lying by omission is still lying. If your wife is cheating on you and doesn’t tell you she has a boyfriend, that’s still a lie and still hurtful and damaging. Again, I think her parents did the best they knew how, but they still were not truthful about half her origin. She’s absolutely justified in having feelings of betrayal here.

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        Vathena June 14, 2018, 11:29 am

        “Lying would be telling LW that her father is her bio-dad.” I mean, I don’t know that I would characterize the parents’ behavior here as a Huge Betrayal, but come on now. Don’t you think in every child’s life, it’s 100% understood by the child that his/her parents are the biological parents, whether that’s said explicitly or not? My daughter is 5 and talks about “when I was in Mommy’s tummy”/”I have blue eyes because of Daddy” and about how she might be tall when she grows up because Daddy’s mommy is tall, and that sort of thing. Don’t you think that, if she were to find out in 25 years that none of that was true, she might feel a little bit, you know, lied to? No one likes to find out secrets that, while perhaps not “relevant” to daily life, radically change their view of themselves or their loved ones.

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        Vathena June 14, 2018, 11:30 am

        (I mean to say, that is understood by most children unless they are told otherwise.)

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      Vathena June 14, 2018, 11:37 am

      Also, at the time that my friend’s parents told her about her being conceived using donor sperm, I couldn’t fathom why they had told her instead of letting her live in blissful ignorance. Now I’m thinking they were afraid she might find out some other way and didn’t want her to feel this sort of betrayal – even though she kind of did anyway! Another thing to consider, LW, is that maybe you weren’t told because they didn’t want ANYONE to know. There’s still plenty of judgment cast by family members on reproductive assistance. I would imagine that back in the 70s/early 80s that sort of judgment was even more pervasive, and the standard operating procedure was just to keep that sort of thing a secret.

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    Lisa June 14, 2018, 9:41 am

    I did 23 and me with my fiance, and his results came back that he was 2% German. His Father is 100% German, or so we thought and was very upset when it came back this way. Now we are having his Father do the test. Sometimes the results are not so accurate. This new era certainly has its risks and I could see people finding things out like this. Putting that aside I would be personally furious with my parents for not telling me this, not giving me this information. Honestly I don’t care why they did it, it’s not okay.

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      Autumnrose June 14, 2018, 11:04 am

      @lisa, I would retest your husband. Honestly, these test are not accurate. If your husbands father has document proof he was born and lived in German, than he is German. His parent might have moved to Germany but he is still German. I am an American (with all sorts of hertiage in me to the point I find it irrelevant)My great grand parents were born American-my grandparents, and my parents so there for thats my heritage is American.

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        ron June 14, 2018, 11:24 am

        Being a German citizen does not make one 100% Germanic by genetics. They are entirely different things. The borders of Europe changed a lot throughout the ages and people migrated. Many French and Poles lived in what has been part of Germany. Many Jews lived in Germany prior to WW II. They were German citizens, but a genetic test would not identify them as German.

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        Autumnrose June 14, 2018, 11:57 am

        @Ron, yes i got you. Anthropology says human orgins started in Africa and moved to Asia. And offically spread through time. So then my question is, does genetic testing regarding your human orgins really matter? If we can ultimalty link everyones initial genetics back to Africa.

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        keyblade June 14, 2018, 12:04 pm

        Don’t know how accurate this article is but I stumbled across it the other day:

        https://gizmodo.com/how-dna-testing-botched-my-familys-heritage-and-probab-1820932637

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        ron June 14, 2018, 1:09 pm

        Autumnrose —
        Yes, genetic differences among all of us are relatively small as biological genetic differences. What we call the different races of humans aren’t genetically different enough to actually qualify as different races of the same species. Many of us include several percent of Neanderthal genes (that is percent of ‘human’ genes — most of our genes come from way back in evolution, to single cell organisms and onward).

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      csp June 15, 2018, 9:09 am

      On the show, “Who do you think you are?” on TLC, Eva Longoria was on and was shocked to learn that she was 98% Spanish when both her parents immigrated from Mexico. So even though she was Mexican, she was not ethnically Mexican. she was so shocked on the show because it was one of the biggest things she defined herself with. BTW, I love that show but it is basically a commercial for Ancestry.com

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    Elin June 14, 2018, 9:43 am

    9 half siblings IN THE 23andme DATABASE. Could be a lot more out there that that, right?

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy June 14, 2018, 10:41 am

      For sure.

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    SpaceySteph June 14, 2018, 9:47 am

    Obviously too late for the LW, but folks should really think long and hard about those DNA tests before they take them. You have NO IDEA what skeletons you might uncover. Maybe you had a sperm donor for a dad, maybe you’re adopted, and maybe your uncle is the Golden State Killer.

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      Kate June 14, 2018, 9:52 am

      Yes!!! Though thank goodness some relative of his DID upload their DNA, as there was no other way they were going to catch that piece of shit.

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      JD June 14, 2018, 10:03 am

      I agree. I kind of don’t get the interest to some extent. Also, no plans on murdering someone but not really into my DNA profile being out there.

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    • courtney89

      Courtney June 14, 2018, 10:54 am

      Yes!! My cousin does all of the DNA tests and come to find out our grandfather had a daughter before he married my nana and my mom had NO IDEA she had another sister and didnt know how to feel about it. She met her and was nervous but is now just sad that they missed out on 50+ years of each other because she liked her alot. We don’t believe my grandpa ever knew either (he was in the Navy and left around the same time period) but the players involved now are all deceased and we wont really have any answers.
      So i would also caution anyone wanting to do it to think about how it could affect other family members as well..

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    • Lianne

      Lianne June 14, 2018, 12:04 pm

      Not to mention you’re handing over your DNA to someone willingly. We don’t k ow that everyone working there is ethical! It totally creeps me out.

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      GirlChris June 14, 2018, 4:47 pm

      I just saw this news story: Two women who discovered they were accidentally switched at birth through 23 and me. This would be terrible news. Just think about all the resentment you might build up thinking about what your life would have been like with the right family. https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/national-international/at-age-72-women-learn-they-were-switched-at-birth-485581061.html

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      K June 15, 2018, 10:56 am

      I did 23andMe and then got a test for my dad, and I admit I was a bit relieved when it came back that he was my father, haha. I think it’s interesting, but there are certainly risks involved.

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    BakerBabe June 14, 2018, 10:43 am

    Also, OP – If you do decide to talk to your parents first, I would try to get them both together. If they are still civil with each other after the divorce, this is the best option. If getting them together doesn’t work, talk to your mother first.

    It sounds like she is the one who was more open about the infertility issue and speaking to your father about it sounds like it will be more complicated for several reasons:
    1) You hinted that he was unfaithful to your mother, so this conversation – though unrelated to his marriage fidelity – could just bring out more complicated feelings.
    2) The third party here is the biological “father”, so if I understand it correctly, it was solely his role and not your mothers, that was “replaced” in your conception. He may have had a very difficult time overcoming the fact that his role in your conception didn’t “work”

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    Autumnrose June 14, 2018, 10:44 am

    Yay for going to therapy. There seems far more underlining issues that need to be dealt with and this is just a piece to help sort you out. I too feel the word betrayal is strongly used. Your parents didnt betray you. This isn’t an adoption case, this is a non relationship- no connection to biological sperm donor. You have a father that raised you as his own becasue he wanted you. You need to really go through your feeling with the therapist and when it is time to discuss this issue with your parents, you need to be compassionate and fully understanding. The only negative about this issue is why they didnt tell you. Thats only a question they can answer. It doesnt change your circumstances or who you are. The only information you would need to know about your sperm donor is their medical history. You dont need to bond with sperm donor or your half siblings to find some understanding. (Of coarse you can if you want) but this isnt a mystery case – you were wanted. I feel like this is a pick your battle situation. You alive, living, with a child of your own. Does it really matter where you came from? Does a DNA test really define who you are?

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    Mar1985 June 14, 2018, 11:24 am

    I don’t know what the technology for this was like in the 70s… but isn’t it possible the Dad might not even know? Like the Mom may have gone that route on her own without telling him? IVF didn’t really start until late 70s so if Mom was desperate for a baby she may have flown solo to the doctor. Highly unlikely I know, but also a possibility.

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      csp June 14, 2018, 11:54 am

      Yea – I would talk to mom first.

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      Fyodor June 14, 2018, 1:39 pm

      I don’t disagree with your underlying , but insemination through sperm donation has been around much longer than IVF (since the 50s). They wouldn’t have used IVF unless the mother or sperm donor had fertility issues.

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        Mar1985 June 15, 2018, 1:34 pm

        Yea that’s what I mean, I highly doubt it would’ve been IVF and would’ve been insemination which doesn’t necessarily mean the Dad knew if the Mom went to the doc on her own.

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    anonymousse June 14, 2018, 11:58 am

    Think of the stigma of infertility and masculinity issues in the 70s. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that her parents kept this a secret and continued with it in order to pass as a traditional family. They probably thought they were protecting her from harm.

    I’m not saying it was wise. It was a choice they made.

    Unless, he doesn’t even know about the donor. That is a slight, bit real possibility.

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    csp June 14, 2018, 12:03 pm

    LW – I am chiming in here as well as reiterating a lot of sentiments. I am an adoptive mom who went through years of infertility. I have thoughts:
    1.) First remember that the people who raised you are your parents. People will talk to me about my son’s “real parents” all the time. But, realize that every feeding, middle of the night wake ups, game attendance – those make up your parents. My son’t birth parents hooked up and then came a baby. All the day in and day out raising is what made me a mom.
    2.) When your parents divorced, your dad did not throw the “your not really my kid” in your face or in your mom’s face. That is a good man.
    3.) really go through Wendy’s questions about what you want from a conversation. I think you should speak to both of your parents but let the shock dissipate.

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    Fyodor June 14, 2018, 1:33 pm

    I would add that there was a decent stigma to using sperm donation back then. For a man to be unable to father children and have his wife impregnated with another man’s sperm was the kind of thing that someone might find deeply embarrassing. I agree with everyone that it was wrong for them to hide it but I think that the LW should consider the cultural context and be a little forgiving.

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    Essie June 14, 2018, 3:14 pm

    I wonder if it has occurred to the LW that her father (the one who raised her) might have been a sperm donor? And that she was the product of a perfectly normal conception between the two people she knows as her parents, and these other relatives she’s found were the result of his sperm donations?

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      Essie June 14, 2018, 3:18 pm

      Posted too soon…anyway, LW, before you decide your parents are Satan’s minions, talk to your mom and dad. Calmly. LISTEN. Whatever happened, they had their reasons. Let them explain them.

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    • Lucidity

      Lucidity June 14, 2018, 7:03 pm

      I was thinking the same thing! It seems unlikely but it’s certainly not impossible.

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    kali June 14, 2018, 5:18 pm

    I’ve been doing a lot of genealogical research lately and in that world, this is called a non-parental event or NPE. It’s not uncommon. There are Facebook groups that help offspring of NPEs navigate these scary seas and give help, advice, and offer stories of how others handled it. Such a group might be helpful to the LW.

    In LW’s place, I would want to know more than the bare bones info given with a sperm
    Donation – there are recessive genes that may not be evident in the father or in his youth which could prove valuable info to LW. And loving genealogy as I do, I would want to trace those ancestors back as far as possible.

    Whatever happens and however LW proceeds, I wish her peace of mind, knowing she was wanted and planned for. That is a priceless gift.

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    dinoceros June 14, 2018, 7:24 pm

    It’s totally valid to feel hurt over this. But FWIW, they did not keep this from you maliciously and it doesn’t reflect them caring about you and loving you any less. It means that they really, really wanted children despite having obstacles. People are often not good at deciding what info should be shared and what shouldn’t. Just read through the posts here and find folks who can’t decide whether to tell someone something or not. They go between being worried that the info will hurt the person and worried that the person will get mad that they weren’t told. It’s a very human mistake to make, and oftentimes, there is no right answer. (The same person may be hurt at being told and be hurt at not being told.) The friends I have who are going through this process want and love children more than anyone I know.

    In terms of telling them, I think only you know the best option. You have to weigh what you’ll gain from telling them with any potential negative effects. It might be that you find it’s worth it, or it’s not. I imagine that back then, they had no idea that it might come to light, but they may have already considered that it might now, with the way technology has gone.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark June 15, 2018, 5:04 pm

    Perhaps they should have instead simply NOT had you? Honestly? The world has more than enough drama queens…

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    Katie August 22, 2018, 2:15 pm

    Please find friends within the community of donor conceived persons. There are many good places to find them on Facebook, such as the group, DNA For Donor-Conceived Persons. I am disappointed by the uninformed and unempathetic comments that I have read here. Try watching the documentary, “Anonymous Father’s Day” or “Thank You For Coming”. Try reading the research paper called “My Daddy’s Name Is Donor.” Instead of seeking advice from people who don’t know, don’t care, never lived it, but think they can judge anyway. For more of my thoughts, here is my own experience [DELETED]

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy August 22, 2018, 2:38 pm

      She sought advice from and I don’t know what from my thoughtful and compassionate reply to her you thought indicated I don’t care. Your comment strikes me as link-back hungry, and I have deleted the link to your blog because of that.

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