By: Heather Somaini
Our kids have lots of brothers and sisters. We don’t have any other children, but Izzy and Free have at least ten half-siblings around the country. It seems like no big deal now but I remember that day soon after the babies were born when we became part of the Donor Sibling Registry. There are two registries actually – one with the California Cryobank (www.cryobank.com) and then the larger, national Donor Sibling Registry (www.donorsiblingregistry.com) created in September 2000 by Wendy Kramer and her son Ryan. Born from anonymous sperm donation, Ryan was curious about his genetic origins and when no public option was available, they created the site for consenting adults to contact each other.
It’s a weird situation, isn’t it? There is an actual site where people who used the same sperm we did have listed that they have children that are related to our children. That’s sort of crazy and awesome all at the same time. I posted that our babies were born and read a few postings from the other parents. The DSR allows for you to email other parents anonymously through the site. I did. I wasn’t sure what to say other than that we would be open to meeting them. The first one responded within a day or two and sent me a picture of her son. I was ecstatic and nervous and freaked out all at the same time. What if her son looked like our son? What if they had the same eyes, mouth, nose? What if I looked in her son’s eyes and felt like he was mine? I was incredibly worried as I clicked on the picture to open it up.
And you know what?
That kid looked NOTHING like our kids. He had very different features and there was nothing about him that felt like he was even remotely related to us. It was over and I realized how awesome the site was. It allowed me to absolutely put the half-sibling “issue” to rest. Those other kids had nothing to do with mine. They were lovely and amazing but they were someone else’s babies and that was that.
Soon after, I received more pictures from other families. They all looked different. None looked like Izzy and Free. It was such a relief. But the truly amazing emails I received were from the parents who asked us to help them complete their families. It’s a very unusual situation I know but we had extra vials of our donor after the twins were born. More vials than any reasonably sane couple would use. When I got that first email, I was surprised. Here were two moms on the east coast who had a little boy. They wanted to have another baby but our Donor had retired from the sperm-donating business and the CA Cryobank no longer had any of his “stuff”. But we did. Lots of it, too much actually. I became a sperm broker.
Yes, you heard it right. In April of 2008, I sold sperm, lots of sperm. I spent the next month arranging and signing forms to release two vials to the moms on the east coast and then another two vials to two moms in Arizona who also had a little boy and wanted another baby. Over time, I sort of forgot about my sperm brokering month. It was a moment in time that passed in the haze of diaper changes and late-night bottle feedings. But then about a year later, I got an email from a mom who had twins. I didn’t recognize the name and just forwarded it to Tere asking if it was someone in the multiples group. She pointed out that it was from the moms in Arizona that we had given sperm to! I couldn’t believe it; we had given them the stuff they needed to make their babies. Because of us, their children were all genetically related and their family was complete. It was great to feel so connected to people that we didn’t even know.
Since then, the other couple on the East Coast also had a baby from “us”. They are happy and we continue to try and make plans to meet one day. But just about two months ago, we met the twins that we helped create. They’re gorgeous and don’t look anything like our little guys. Their moms moved back to California and we met them at their housewarming party. No one else knew who we were and as I sat and watched our kids play, I overheard one woman say to another “Do you see those twins? They are dead ringers for Jill’s kids. If I didn’t know better, I’d say they could be siblings.” I smiled slyly as I overheard the other woman say “They are.”
It was a fantastic moment in the life of a sperm broker.