MOTHER. ADVOCATE. WRITER.
As a mom and someone who dealt with infertility, I truly understand the desire for and joy of having children, and I try to balance that understanding with the need to put the needs of those children first and foremost. I am a late-discovery, transethnic, sperm donor-conceived person.
I discovered my truth in September 2017, right before I turned 35. I received surprising results from a 23andme DNA test I had taken as part of a research study and as a way to further my fascination with genealogy and family history. I found I was, unexpectedly, half Ashkenazi Jewish, and had a half-sibling match I did not recognize. My mother admitted the truth when I confronted her later that day. I was able to find my biological father very quickly, through my DNA match and clues my mother had, even though he was anonymous and there were no records kept.
My biological father has been overjoyed to have a relationship with me and the small group of siblings we have found so far. I take after him not only in looks, but in personality as well; it is an indescribable experience. Since my discovery, I have worked on awareness of issues surrounding donor conception. My focus has included educating parents on best practices, advancing legislative changes for reforming the fertility industry, writing, speaking, performing, and other creative outlets, delving into the emotional impact of ‘donor’ conception, particularly the trauma of late discovery, exploring the complexities of finding significant ethnicity changes, and revealing the dynamics of families dealing with secrecy.
I write about donor conception a lot — on an ethical level but also on an emotional level — sharing a lot via social media, for transparency about the effects of this practice and the effects of lies and family secrets. Along with a lifelong commitment to family history and culture, I have a background in psychology and in health care, which have shaped my interest and passion for the importance of accurate medical history and the recognition of the psychological impact of trauma and family separation.
I have written and performed two performance art pieces: one on the challenges of finding a new religious and ethnic identity, and the other on finding the truth behind your own face.
I am fascinated by the similarities and parallels, and also the unique differences in the worlds of donor conception, adoption, and other MPE experiences, as well as the wide variety of differences of experience of donor-conceived individuals. I am passionate about the value of ethnic and cultural history to those who are separated from biological family.
I live in New Jersey, USA, and am currently working with my state legislature on a bill to do away with donor anonymity (donors will be made aware that their identity cannot be kept a secret), set up a state registry, and mandate updated medical records, for starters. There is so much we need to do and I hope we can get as much as we can passed into law.
I have done this work while dealing with the difficulties of my own trauma recovery, raising my family, and immersing myself into my newfound Jewish heritage. Unfortunately, with my discovery has come ostracization by my family of origin; this happens all too often with discoveries like mine. I have struggled with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the wake of all of this. Advocacy, along with the support of dear friends and professional mental health care, have helped me heal and find purpose and integration.
We are not shameful secrets. We are not at fault for discovering the truth. I am committed to helping future donor-conceived people so that they have it better than our generation.