On May 24th, 1984 in a small town in Northeast Ohio I was conceived. There was no candlelit dinner or even conversation between my parents that day. In fact, they had never even met. My father was probably sitting through a college lecture in Georgia and had no idea that 1,000 miles away his own biological daughter was being conceived in a doctor’s office. My very own kinship was severed that day through artificial insemination by anonymous donor, and this deliberate loss of identity has haunted me my entire life. My unmarried mother, 30 years old, felt her biological clock was ticking and opted to raise a child herself. With the support of family and friends she set out to have a biological child. Eight and a half months later I was brought into this world in the middle of a legendary blizzard. Five pounds ten ounces, a healthy baby girl.
As the child of a single mother by choice, I was told at a very young age of my ‘unique’ existence, and given my age I had no real grasp of the consequences. Most of my early childhood memories of dancing to new wave 80’s music and watching TV were formed while at my babysitter’s house. At age four, my mother married and I quickly became a big sister to twin girls. The initial shock of moving to a new town and suddenly having a man in my life was completely trumped by the two strange creatures that never seemed to stop crying. I started Kindergarten soon after and realized that I was different from the other kids.
I was a precocious child and reading quickly became the best way for me to escape reality and fantasize about who I wanted to be. I also started wondering who my father was. The questions were piling up and I had no way to answer them. I remember dreaming that my father was some famous person or did something remarkable. I dreamed that one day I would find him because I wanted to know this foreign half of me. I even wondered if I could use my DNA to trace my father – a strange foreshadow at a young age since I am currently in graduate school studying genetics!
During my senior year of high school, urged by my therapist, I confronted my mother about information regarding my biological father, and learned that she had virtually no information. The only information she recalled was that the sperm bank her doctor used was in Georgia and she had asked him for a donor with brown hair and blue eyes and was around 5’8. After some searching I concluded that my mother had used the Xytex Corporation in Augusta, Georgia and therefore I was a “Xytex Baby” – a somewhat crude identification that is of utmost importance when meeting another donor-conceived person, in order to quickly determine if there is a chance of being siblings.
I have now gone through three DNA tests with donors and other offspring from Xytex. After each negative test I often ask myself why I continue, but I already know the answer. It’s a desire that one cannot even explain, that you would go to every extreme to get an answer, despite obvious consequences. My mother was not supportive of my search and did not understand the need whatsoever – yet I continued despite her opposition.
This winter my mother finally realized that I am an adult and searching for my biological father is not a personal attack against her, but something that I need to do for myself. After investigating her medical records she found my donor number - #2035: English, brown hair, green eyes, 6’0, 175lbs, B+ blood type, born February 12, 1961, senior in college in 1982.
These small bits of information are surely not enough to replace what has been eliminated from our past. Being deliberately denied the right to know half our genesis is something that the average American simply takes for granted, but for those of us with this void it is of the utmost importance. We are human beings, not products of a financial transaction without thoughts and feelings, and we deserve to be respected as much as every other person in this country.