And unlocking a new facet of my identity

Sitting in an air conditioned library one July morning, I opened an email from someone claiming to be my half sibling. She’d found me on 23andme, an online platform designed to support people in learning more about their DNA, and inadvertently connecting thousands of family members who were previously unknown to one another.

The question of “What makes a family?” occupied a lot of my mind space in those days. Was it fair to call a stranger with whom I shared 25% of my DNA my sister? Technically, yes. …

In a room smaller than a nursery, she sits upright on the plush leather couch and begins to cry. When she was young, she never could have guessed that it would go this way. Her therapist knows her better than anyone before. She leans back, stretching her ribcage, elongating her spine, silently weeping. There are three paintings on the walls; one of a sunset, one of horses in a stable, and one of a field of sunflowers. …

Lived Through This

Their choice to hide my biology has forever altered how I see myself

Blurry black and white image of a person walking holding an umbrella with some bare trees.
Blurry black and white image of a person walking holding an umbrella with some bare trees.
Photo: FanD/Flickr

The day after I found out I was donor-conceived, I spent the afternoon walking through the streets of midtown Manhattan, wondering if anyone I passed by could be a relative. The information I had about the anonymous sperm donor my parents used was minimal: He was Jewish and had been in medical school in the ’80s. As I strolled by hordes of Jewish-looking middle-aged men, with the same brown eyes and brown hair my genes expressed, the unlikelihood of ever meeting my biological father weighed on me.

I was proud of myself for being realistic. It was borderline laughable, contemplating…

My parents have a secret from the world. It’s about them, their bodies, and choices they’ve made. However, the nature of the secret — one that relates to my conception — is invariably also about me.

I’m thinking about whose story this is because this is a topic my mother and I often debate. She believes my dad’s infertility is his story; my dad agrees. Back in the 1980s, they chose an anonymous sperm donor in order to bring me into existence, and I (shockingly!) see that as being about me. …

Susannah Fox

Donor conceived lady thinks about family, shame, secrets, donor conception, (in)fertility, pregnancy and parenthood. Email:

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