An adoptee, donor conceived person, and two people with an NPE walk into a restaurant…David Wrate, Gregory Loy, Alesia Cohen Weiss, and Kara Rubinstein Deyerin met while doing an interview for Kiro News 7, “DNA Home Test Kits Reveal Family Secrets, Bring Unexpected Trauma.” They believe people with a DNA surprise and genetic identity issues need access to support and laws related to genetic information, identity, and family dynamics need to be updated to reflect the changing technology and social dynamics of the times. Over dinner after their interview, 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. We need laws that reflect our right to know our genetic identity.
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.
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% Jewish. The DNA pandora’s box she opened led to an identity crisis. Because there were few resources for people with misattributed parentage and a lack of legal rights, she co-founded Right to Know. Kara is leading advocate for genetic identity rights and people impacted by misattributed parentage. She has appeared on many podcasts, in multiple television interviews and articles, and is a frequent speaker on her DNA surprise, the right to know, and the complex intersection of genetic information, identity, and family dynamics. Read her blog about being Unexpectedly Jewish in Seattle.
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 our Secretary.
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 Board Treasurer.
OUR AMAZING VOLUNTEERS
Kris PAGE Swenson
Kris is a freelance writer based in Indianapolis who has a passion for helping people. With degrees in Sociology and Philosophy from the University of Indianapolis and a Masters in Theology and Critical Theory from Duke University, Kris has a well-rounded academic background that informs her work. Her career has been diverse, starting as an employment consultant and program manager for people with disabilities, and later pursuing her love for bookselling without losing sight of her desire to aid others. Currently, Kris continues to work with those with disabilities and writes articles on mood disorders and genetic identity issues.
Kris’s personal experience with a heart attack led her to volunteer with the Right to Know organization, which promotes awareness about the importance of genetic information. After discovering that early onset cardiovascular disease was prevalent in her biological family, Kris believes that everyone should have access to aggressive early diagnostic testing. Her dedication to helping others drives her work, and she strives to make a positive impact on those around her.
Kris is our Bear Witness Program Coordinator.
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 DCP 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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