Alesia Cohen Weiss, Kara Rubinstein Deyerin, David Wrate, and Gregory Loy met while doing an interview for Kiro News 7, “DNA Home Test Kits Reveal Family Secrets, Bring Unexpected Trauma.” They believe laws related to genetic information, identity, and family dynamics need to be updated to reflect the changing technology and social dynamics of the times. This belief developed into Right to Know.
With over-the-counter DNA testing, there is no such thing as anonymity any more. Adoption and donor conceived laws need to be updated with this reality. And family secrets that could be locked in the closet in the past, can no longer remain hidden.
Parents need to understand the devastating affects of suddenly learning you are not who you thought you were. Families now come in all shapes and sizes. We need to be open with children about their genetic parentage so there are no shocking surprises.
There should be no shame in knowing your genetic heritage.
Alesia Cohen Weiss
Alesia is a retired RN, Army Veteran, and blog writer. She is a leading advocate for people with an MPE community, most of whom were impacted by a DNA surprise. Her activism includes informal counseling, search angel work (helping people find relatives), vetting and providing referrals to informed and responsible therapists, and spearheading legislation in support of the human right to know one’s genetic identity. Alesia has first-hand knowledge of what it means to have an MPE due to her own DNA surprise in 2014, when she was shocked to learn that the man who’d raised her was not her genetic father. It took Alesia four years of research to discover her biological father’s identity — and by then, unfortunately, he passed. She also learned of patterns within her paternal family’s medical history that would have saved her decades of hardship and heartache if only she’d known of them earlier. For these reasons and many others, she is devoted to doing everything in her power to spare others from the suffering she endured.
Alesia is our CXO, Chief Experience Officer & Secretary.
KARA Rubinstein Deyerin
Kara is a non practicing attorney with an LLM in Taxation and a master’s in Trade & Investment Policy. In January 2018, she wanted to see where in Africa her father’s family came from. Her over-the-counter DNA test revealed she was 50% something, but she had zero African DNA. This meant the man on her birth certificate couldn’t possibly be her genetic father. She lost her bi-racial identity with the click of a mouse. Kara discovered she was 50% Ashkenazi Jew. The DNA pandora’s box she opened led to an identity crisis. She’s a passionate advocate for genetic identity rights. Read her blog about being Unexpectedly Jewish in Seattle.
Kara is our CEO, Chief Executive Officer.,
Brad is a police officer in the Dallas, Texas area. He is married and has three children. For the first 48 years of his life, Brad believed he was raised by his biological family. That changed in 2019 when someone he matched from an Ancestry DNA test contacted him. In less than 24 hours Brad became a Late Discovery Adoptee with a MPE. Since that time he is in reunion with several biological family members including his biological father and four siblings. He is passionate about the right of every person to know their true genetic identity. While he knows his biological history, he still has to go to court if he wants to have his records unsealed. Brad has written essays and an article for Severance Magazine and is currently working on other essays and a memoir. You can find him on Instagram @a_late_discovery.
Brad is a Board Member at Large
David Berry is the Founder/President of DB Dynamo, a digital media agency based in Miami, FL, with a client roster that has included BMW, 1-800 PetMeds, AVIS/Budget, and the University of Miami, among others. In 2017, he learned that he is donor-conceived, and in 2021 he learned that he is the biological son of his mother’s fertility doctor. Since then, David has used his story to aid in the passage of fertility fraud legislation, both in New York State, and at the federal level.
David has an MBA from Florida International University and is also an adjunct professor of digital advertising at the University of Miami School of Communications, and at the Honors College at Florida International University.
David is our CFO, Chief Financial Officer.
David is a bi-racial adoptee living in Canada. After discovering his Chinese and Scottish roots in 2018, he was finally able to answer the question he’d been asked his entire life; where are you from? The discovery started a learning journey about two very different cultures and traditions. His adopted family members include people of Indigenous and African American heritage. While his birth parents both passed away before he could meet them, he was warmly embraced by his biological siblings.
David is our Emeritus Board Member.
OUR AMAZING VOLUNTEERS
Steph served as a PSYOP Detachment Commander in the Army, serving a total of 12 years. Currently she is a doctoral candidate in the Community Engagement Program at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA and is partnering with Right to Know to complete her practicum requirement. Her dissertation research is focused on the experiences of donor-conceived adults and how those experiences have contributed to the formation of their identities. Steph is a donor-conceived adult who identified her biological father through commercial DNA testing a little over three years ago. Steph hopes through her research she can contribute to the body of literature and offer an in-depth narrative of the donor-conceived perspective.
Steph is assisting us with our licensed Mental Health Directory
Traci discovered through an over the counter DNA test that she was donor conceived, and that her biological father was her mother’s own OBGYN. Based on existing donor conceived laws, children resulting from donor fraud have little to no grounds to request DNA tests, medical records, medical history, find donor siblings, or receive settlements for emotional/medical damages. Since her discovery, Traci launched donordeceived.org to capture the growing list of fertility fraud cases and the need for legislation change around 3rd party conception. Her goal is to expand legal and mental health support to those struggling with their DC discoveries and to drive systematic change in the fertility industry.
Traci is our Legislative Program Manager.
Mental Health advisory Board
Cotey focuses his practice on working with individuals with an MPE. His passion to help comes from discovering that he has an MPE. He understands the emotions that ensue from an experience such as making an unexpected finding. He focuses on bringing awareness to individuals with an MPE and the importance of identity as well as processing heavy emotions. He primarily integrates from therapies/theories such as EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy), Narrative Therapy, CBT, Family Systems and Existential Therapy within sessions.
Cotey received his M.A. in Counseling from Dallas Theological Seminary and currently practice at New Heights Counseling in Texas. Though this is his home office, he primarily sees MPE clients through distance counseling means. Please reach out today for a free consult.
Not only does Jodi serve on our Mental Health Advisory Board, she is also our Continuing Education Program Administrator.
Jodi’s passion for the MPE population was born from her own 2016 DNA discovery, leading her to create the Sex, Lies & The Truth podcast, the Finding Family blog on Psychology Today and pioneering the only clinical training for mental health professionals she coined, Parental Identity Discovery™. Jodi uses her expertise to guide people and their families through the unique and challenging process of discovering surprise DNA revelations and the necessary skills to cope with them.
Jodi received a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from Dominican University in San Rafael and obtained licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist in 2004. She is currently a doctoral student at Touro University where she expects to receive a PsyD in Human and Organizational Psychology in 2022. She is recognized for an empathic and direct style in connecting with clients and is skilled at dealing with difficult issues in trauma and family dynamics. Trained by EMDR founder Francine Shapiro, she is an expert in addressing grief, trauma, feelings of belonging, identity confusion, rejection, worth and self-esteem.
Jodi is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist throughout California via secure teletherapy.
Joni understands that finding a family member through adoption search/reunion or DNA discovery is just the beginning of the journey, not the endpoint. The emotional reactions come in layers, and she helps people work through each complex feeling and the question of identity and relationship as we revise your personal narrative to include this new information.
With over 25 years of experience as a psychotherapist specializing in families created through adoption and third-party reproduction, Joni Mantell, LCSW, Founder and Director of the Infertility and Adoption Counseling Center, is also personally privy to the complexities of genetic bewilderment having undergone her own surprising DNA discovery: that she, herself, was donor conceived. The unique juxtaposition of her professional specialties and personal story—allowing her insight from both the perspective of expert and subject—has given her a deep understanding and passion for working with individuals and families navigating the intricate emotional, identity, self-esteem, and relationship issues related to adoption, donor conception, or other unexpected family matches (NPE).
Leslie is a therapist specializing in issues that impact families conceived through adoption and third-party reproduction. For three decades she’s been sharing her expertise on these topics at conferences and events across the country and around the world. She relinquished two sons for adoption in the mid-1960s and a quarter of a century later, gave birth and raised IVF twins. Her experiences and her extensive academic training give her a unique perspective into alternate methods of building a family. The tremendous losses inherent in adoption and 3rd party reproduction are seldom addressed ahead of time with families, which sets them up for irreparable damage and dysfunction.
Leslie works with families and individuals to bridge that gap and with those contemplating contact with DNA relatives. Without preparation, doors are often slammed shut, never to be opened again. Beyond working with clients, Leslie’s passion is educating therapists. She offers on-line supervision in Adoption Competency and various on-line resources to spread the word: Openness and preparation are not optional, but essential!
Her story is included in the book The Girls Who Went Away and the documentary A Girl Like Her. Leslie was interviewed by Robin Roberts on Good Morning America, featured in Dan Rather’s report; Adoption or Abduction and appeared on the Katie Couric Show along with her oldest son. She has appeared on CNN and is a consultant to those being reunited on TLC’s Long Lost Family.
Lynne believes it is important for everyone to have their life story heard, understood and honored. She enjoys helping people grow through facing up to their life challenges and gaining more life satisfaction and purpose.
Lynne’s special areas of interest include donor conception, adoption, MPE, depression, trauma, grief and loss, Mind-Body-Spirit integration, and the LGBTQ population. She works with adolescents and adults through all life stages.
Lynne Spencer is an experienced Masters Level Psychologist. She is a registered nurse, specializing in Psychiatric/Behavioral Nursing, since 1983. Lynne graduated from the Michigan School of Psychology (formerly the Center for Humanistic Studies) in 2000 with a Master’s in Clinical and Humanistic Psychology; her thesis was “What is the Experience of Confronting the Reality of Being a Donor Offspring?”. She has worked in hospital, outpatient clinic, residential, community mental health and home care settings.
Read Lynne’s blog, Sperm Donor Offspring.
Your privacy is important to us. It is Right To Know’s policy to respect your privacy regarding any information we may collect from you through our app, Right to Know. We only ask for personal information when we truly need it to provide a service to you. We collect it by fair and lawful means, with your knowledge and consent. We also let you know why we’re collecting it and how it will be used.
We only retain collected information for as long as necessary to provide you with your requested service. What data we store, we’ll protect within commercially acceptable means to prevent loss and theft, as well as unauthorized access, disclosure, copying, use or modification. We don’t share any personally identifying information publicly or with third parties, except when required to by law. Our app may link to external sites that are not operated by us. Please be aware that we have no control over the content and practices of these sites, and cannot accept responsibility or liability for their respective privacy policies.
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This policy is effective as of 1 January 2021.
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