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The whole conception story as I know it

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Being the product of donor insemination (and knowing it) is all relatively new to me. It was just last May that my mom first revealed to me that my parents had used donor sperm to conceive. She told me the whole story at that time, but as with any retelling, things that were forgotten at first tend to come up later in conversation. So I’m still learning details and things like who in my family already knows. This is an interesting journey to put it mildly. At times I feel overwhelmed with information. At others I feel at a loss as to where to find it.

One thing I have learned is that in the late 70s, it wasn’t uncommon for clinics to mix the prospective father’s semen with the donor’s to “promote bonding between prospective father and child”. This is what they did in my case. Even knowing this, I basically just assume that it was the donor’s sperm, because my parents were unable to conceive (with the exception of one pregnancy that ended in miscarriage) for nearly 10 years. Their doctor attributed the infertility to low sperm count and chromosomal abnormalities due to my father’s exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. Since my father had already passed away once I found out, there was no simple paternity test option.

Ultimately though, I am still left with the question of whether I’m a product of my father’s DNA or the donor’s. There are tests I could have run with my DNA and DNA from his siblings, but they are thousands of dollars which make them cost prohibitive for us.

Then, through the DSR (Donor Sibling Registry) community forum, I found out about a genetics testing company. I talked to the company, and they’ve assured me that the fact that they use autosomal DNA as well as mitochondrial (maternal) and Y-chromosome (paternal) DNA means they can give me a conclusive answer to this lingering question. It’s also hundreds of dollars instead of thousands, and on top of helping me to determine my genetic background, it will give me important information on diseases, syndromes, etc that I may be a carrier for. This can be especially important if it is proven that half of my “family” medical history is unknown due to being donor conceived. Also, I’ve talked to one of my cousins, and she has agreed to provide a sample for screening as well. This will allow comparison of our DNA profiles to see if we are in fact first cousins by blood. I will be pursuing this in a couple of weeks.

This still feels surreal, because I thought this option wouldn’t be a realistic option for probably the next decade at least. I truly don’t care what the results show, but the opportunity to find out being within my reach is still surreal. I just need to know the full story.

More on this later. I know I’m going to need to talk through this whole process.

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