About 2 years ago, I experienced the shock of my lifetime when I found out that my dad was not my biological father. The truth is I am the product of an anonymous donor. When I learned of this, the world as I knew it felt shattered. Of course, my dad would always and forever be my dad but now so many truths had been brought into question. Who did I look like? Whose terrible “hot” ears did I inherit? Who do my children look like? Half of my health history is now incorrect…what diseases run on that side of the family? I always thought I was half German…what ethnicity am I? Do I have any siblings? These of course spark the ultimate question….WHO AM I?
Technically, I am not supposed to be here. I am somewhat genetically engineered. I was very wanted. But for all intents and purposes, my genetics would not have happened in the natural world. Sometimes, people have very strong opinions when I talk about this part…but this is a big part of my story, a big part of how I felt. If you have not been through this yourself, you cannot understand. These are real feelings and things that I have had to work through on my own.
After I found out this information, I drove myself to the park and walked around. I began searching on my phone for any answers I could. I came across a site called Donor Sibling Registry. I immediately paid the yearly subscription and put in everything I knew…which was not much. I did not have any donor number or any facts. I found a link that suggested if you did not have a lot of information to take DNA tests through 23andme and/or FamilyTree DNA. I knew at that moment those were my next two steps.
I ordered the tests and took them. I did not have any really close matches and was disheartened again. I did a lot of research, made many phone calls and basically tried every avenue to figure out how to get my records or any clues to the donor or any siblings I might have. After just over a year of searching, I hit one too many dead ends and threw in the towel. I resolved myself to never knowing anything and to just go on with life without thinking about this anymore. It was too hard and too painful to dwell on.
Then, March 1, 2017 happened and my whole world changed. Dane was away in Chicago and the boys were in bed. I saw that one of the “ancestors” on 23andme had sent me a message. I logged on to read it and respond to her. Since I was online I decided to check my “relatives” just for fun. Low and behold…I found the surprise of a lifetime when I saw a beautiful man at the top of the page with a match to a half brother…sharing 25.2% DNA. What?!
I immediately started stalking him. I found a YouTube Channel, LinkedIn profile and found an article about his husband winning a Recycling contest, which led me to finding his husband on Facebook, which led to me finding his Facebook. I messaged him. All I could do was wait…
The next afternoon, I was at work, having one of my kiddos working on a job application. As they were filling stuff out my phone vibrated, my brother had accepted my message. Now, my brother was writing me back….he sent a message! Oh my goodness! It was happening!
We talked pretty much non-stop for the next couple of weeks. I was planning on coming up that way to see my nephew perform in a play. We made a plan to meet on March 20th. It was surreal. I could not believe that I was seeing him in person. It was literally like meeting a celebrity.
I tell you all of this background information to let you know how important finding my brother was to me. Not only is he an amazing person who brings me great joy but he has also given me a reason to feel happy and to feel proud about where I come from.
This Thanksgiving is my first Thanksgiving with my brother in my life. I am thankful for so many things. I am thankful for a wonderful husband who was so supportive through this whole thing, even when I was obsessively talking to Ethan at all hours of the day/night while we were trying to get to know each other. I am thankful for my parents who loved me so much that they went to such great lengths to bring me into existence. I am thankful for a dad who wanted a blonde haired, brown-eyed daughter so much that he was scared to let me know that I was not biologically his. I am thankful for Donor Sibling Registry and its suggestion to do the 23andme testing. I am thankful for 23andme, without which I would have never found my brother. I am thankful for my sweet brother-in-law, Jason, for buying Ethan the test for Christmas last year and being so supportive of him as he goes through this journey of self-discovery. I am thankful we found another sister and brother who I hope to be able to make more memories with before next Thanksgiving. I am thankful that Ethan and I are getting to spend time together this Thanksgiving with my family and his family/friends. We are going to spend two of the four days together this holiday weekend. As he said, if we hang out for 2-3 days each Thanksgiving we will be all caught up in about 10-15 years!