Twin daughters of a sperm donor have SO MANY QUESTIONS
November 19, 2006 6:57 AM   Subscribe

I'm a twenty-six-year-old fraternal twin, writing on behalf of both of us. Our mother has just revealed to us that the man we know as Dad is not our biological father. And the only person who knew the identity of our biological dead.

I'd always had trouble thinking of myself as my father's daughter, and I've had several discussions about this with my mom, during which she'd circumlocute around even the most direct questions (e.g. "Is dad my biological father?"). I know many kids doubt that their parents are their real parents, and I never felt strongly enough about it to demand a paternity test or anything (I also never mentioned these doubts to my dad), but neither me nor my sister look like our dad, act like our dad, or appear to have inherited anything whatsoever from him. My mom would always seem cagey on this topic in thousands of small ways, and I picked up on this early on, as kids tend to do. On the other hand, my sister never doubted for a second that we were related to our dad.

Anyway, we've recently met a few of our dad's relatives, and this re-ignited what I'd always thought of as my baseless neuroses. Last week, when my sister and I were alone with my mom one evening, I started in again, frustrated to the point of tears that she wouldn't give me a straight answer to any of my questions. I told her all I wanted her to say was "[Dad's name] is your biological father," and I'd never bring it up again. She said she wouldn't do it. Finally, after half an hour of this, she turned to me and said, "[Dad's name] is...your father." "Is he my biological father?" I asked, and she said, "No," then paused and said, "See, now you have more problems than you started out with."

We were both stunned. She came out with the story reluctantly, after a few days of prodding - understandable, I think, as this was the first time she'd told anyone about this, ever. My parents were having trouble conceiving, and tests revealed that our dad was sterile. They decided to use donated sperm, which was provided by my mom's ob/gyn, a man who died a few years later from cancer. She and our dad agreed to keep all this secret, from anyone, including us, for a variety of reasons.

For the past few days, my sister and I have felt like we're in a waking dream. Our father doesn't know we know, and we've been forbidden to tell anyone for the time being, at least until our dad finds out we know (although my sister has told her fiance). I abhor all the secrecy, which makes me feel very sad and isolated, but I respect that there are people involved who for whatever reason don't want this spread around.

Now for the questions...we have so many, but here are the most important.

1. We're incredibly curious about our biological father's identity, but finding it seems impossible. As I said, my mom's doctor died of cancer nearly two decades ago, and he was the one who chose the donor. The only thing he said at the time was the cryptic, "They'll be tall" (which, incidentally, neither of us are). We know the name of the hospital, part of a medical school, which makes us think that it could have been a med student who was there at the time. Sleuthing could only go so far, though, especially since all this is done so secretively. There's not even a donor number since they didn't get the sperm from a bank - I've found the Donor Sibling Registry but it seems inapplicable to us for that reason. Given all this, is there any possibility, even the tiniest sliver, that we could figure out who our biological father is? (My mom has suggested he might be the doctor himself, which would make things a lot easier, but we don't feel quite comfortable tracking down his family and banging on their door...)

2. We want to know what ethnicity we are, or anything about our background that wouldn't require knowing our biological father's identity (health risks, for example). I've been asked my whole life what ethnicity I am, but I've always thought I was just an odd-looking Northwestern European. I've done some research into DNA tests but the two I've found are inapplicable - mtDNA tests your matrineal ancestry and Y-DNA is only found in males. Any other way we could find out?

3. My sister and I look (and act) very, very different. After we found out, we discussed this and realized that the only ways we look similar are in the ways we look similar to our mother. We know of the fluke story of a mother giving birth to a black twin and a white twin because of a poorly-cleaned test tube or something. What are the odds of this happening? Should we get a DNA test to find out?

4. Is anyone else here the child of a sperm donor? Any advice for coming to terms with this? We're very confused and emotional right now, and though our mother is slowly opening up, this is a very touchy subject for her and she doesn't like talking about it much for her own reasons (although I showed her this article and she said, "shit."). My sister and I feel very lucky that we have each other - I can't imagine how difficult this sort of thing would be for someone dealing with it alone.

5. Any general advice from the crowd for dealing with this stuff?

I know this is all kind of a shot in the dark (um, so to speak) but we don't really know where to go and what to do from here. Anyone who doesn't want to post here can e-mail us at
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (36 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This has been discussed before in the blue; the links there may help you work this out.
posted by TedW at 7:26 AM on November 19, 2006

Let it go.
I know that sounds hard, but you will never find what you are looking for. Having been adopted and knowing many who did search for their bio parents, it never turns out well and you won't get the answers you want. Most I know who have searched and found bio parents have opened a Pandora's box. Does it really matter what your ethnicity is? You know who you are, do you need an additional qualifier?

You are where you are for a reason, your parents wanted children desperately and did what they had to do to make that happen. They obviously love you and your sister very much. With my parents it was the same, and that is one of the reasons why I won't search, I don't want to break their hearts, and it would.

I'm lucky as I've always known I was adopted, for you this whole bio dad thing is very new and will take time to get used to. Ask yourself what it REALLY means to you. You've made it to 26 without confirmation of your suspicions. In those 26 years, you've had a dad who is your dad. He does all the dad things dads do, he supports you, nurtures you and loves you. Your bio dad gave a sample and that was it.

Think about sperm donation for a minute. The guys that do it don't want to be tracked down. They were in it either to make some money or do some good, but if they wanted their own children they would have had them the usual way. Your bio dad gave you a start, but your dad gave you a lifetime of love.

Take your time, get used to it. Don't rush into anything you may regret later, sometimes it is best to let sleeping dogs lie. Be glad of the family you have. I know I am.
posted by NoraCharles at 7:27 AM on November 19, 2006 [3 favorites]

NoraCharles writes "In those 26 years, you've had a dad who is your dad. He does all the dad things dads do, he supports you, nurtures you and loves you. Your bio dad gave a sample and that was it. "

Hear, hear.

In every way that matters, your father is your father. The other guy simply provided some genes.

If you're concerned about health risks, I'm sure there must be some sort of screening. They can do so via amnioscentesis; I can't imagine there's no adult equivalent.

And then just drop it.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:31 AM on November 19, 2006

This is really hard on your mother. Comfort her. Your Dad is your Dad is your Dad, and tell her you know that.
posted by thirteenkiller at 7:38 AM on November 19, 2006

I understand you searching. But it is a fantasy. I will only say that sometimes things are best left alone. I know from experience. Just live your life. Love your dad and comfort your mom and stop with the guilt trip you are putting on your mom. You will never find what you are seeking. It is a useless fantasy. Find something productive to do and get beyond this. It will do you no good in the future.
posted by JayRwv at 8:01 AM on November 19, 2006

We know of the fluke story of a mother giving birth to a black twin and a white twin because of a poorly-cleaned test tube or something.

If this is the story you are thinking of, it was not a "poorly-cleaned test tube." I was the genes being divvied up in such a way that the children looked as if they were different races. The difference between you and your sister probably has much more to do with how different siblings (even twins) can be in personality or looks.

Now, I know this whole event is very shocking to you and has thrown you for a loop. But really, step back and try to examine how much of your life has actually changed. As others have mentioned before, in every way that has mattered, you already know who your father is. He hasn't loved you any less because he was unable to concieve without assistance.

I also agree with those that are saying you need to supposr your mother. It seems like you hammered and then ripped this out of her. As traumatic as it has to be for you, imagine how painful it was for her to be forced into telling you all this.
posted by piratebowling at 8:40 AM on November 19, 2006

Your father is your father. He wiped your ass 10,000 times, sat up all night when you were colicky, threw the baseball around with you, took you to the hockey game, helped you with your math homework, whatever. Accept that. It doesn't matter in the slightest whose sperm or whose egg was involved.

I'm sorry that your parents dealt with this in the way they did. Your mother being "cagey" throughout your childhood is not the right way to handle it, but please understand there is (today, and even more when you were born) a lot of social stigma associated with infertility. It's not very many years, evolutionarily speaking, since children suspected to be fathered by someone not the woman's husband would be killed.

This whole situation is much harder on your parents than it is on you. You have loving parents. Your parents have been reminded of their infertility and secret-keeping every time they see you. *Forgiveness* should be your mantra. Your parents did what they thought best. Perhaps it was wrong. People make mistakes. Forgive.

Your sister and you look different because you are different. Very likely, your mother was treated with Clomid to spur ovulation and increase the odds of success, a syringe full of sperm, and presto, fraternal twins - multiple ovulation, different eggs, different sperm. (The black twin and white twin story is about the children of two mixed-race people, where one kid, luck of the draw, happened to the get the "black" genes, and the other twin happened to get the "white" genes. It's not about sperm from two different men but rather the funny things that can happen with the sperm of one man.)

You are what you are, in terms of DNA. You are as healthy as anyone, and as unhealthy as anyone.

You can ask questions of your parents. You have a right to know what they know. BUT, and this is a big one, you had damn well better think about what it is costing them to talk about it. You're asking them to talk about a period in their life where they despaired of ever having children, where they admitted that they were failures at reproducing, where your father agreed to have another man's sperm inserted into his wife, where both parents agreed to raise these children as their own, where they practiced a thousand small deceptions on the world to keep that secret, to keep their shame hidden. You had better have a truckload of empathy for what your parents went through; you had better not start this conversation with "I know you're not my REAL Dad.....". Christ. You've got a father. Open your eyes and look at him, the flawed human being that he is. Many people have much less.
posted by jellicle at 8:44 AM on November 19, 2006 [3 favorites]

I know it's harder than I could ever possibly imagine, but it does seem like the easiest thing to do in the long run is to let it go. You do bring up one very important issue, which is finding out if you might have an increased health risks inherited from your father. The only consolation I can think of is that the donor was probably selected because he didn't show any glaring signs of significant risk of health problems.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 8:55 AM on November 19, 2006

Whatever you do, you need to show your father a lot of love through this. He is very likely to take your interest in locating a biological father as rejecting him. Hug him and thank him for being your dad.
posted by LarryC at 9:11 AM on November 19, 2006

Can you not see that your parents wanted you so much and found a sperm donor? How much love do you want? It is so clear that they "wanted" you very much. You should not throw this in the face of your dad.
Not to be mean, but you sound so self centered. Can you not appreciate the dad and mom that gave birth to you and raised you? It is not all about you. There are others involved. Does your dad love you? Have you always cared for him and your mom? Go to a shrink or something if you need to go on and on about YOUR pain. Can't you have compassion and love for the man that raised you?
posted by JayRwv at 9:30 AM on November 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

In my (close) experience, people with an unknown biological parent will make up some fairly implausible excuses for wanting to find out the identity of the biological parent. They only want to know their medical history; they only want to know their exact racial background (why?); they just want this practical information and then they'll be done.

In my experience, these people are lying to themselves. They sense a huge vacuum, possibly of the same sort that all of use feel as mortal sentient beings, and harbor a great wish that finding the Real Dad or Real Mom will fill that huge vacuum.

Most often they wind up stirring up a whole lot of pain for themselves and everyone around them. They wind up scarring the real real parents (the ones who raised them with imperfect but real love and attention). The Real Parent they find winds up providing nothing like what they're looking for.

See a therapist -- not because you're crazy, but because a good therapist can help you carefully work through the issues that are gnawing at you until you can make reasonable sense of them. But please stop with the bullshit about your burning need to know exactly what racial strain of NE European you are. Start talking straight; you owe it to your family.
posted by argybarg at 9:58 AM on November 19, 2006

Can we lighten up a bit on anonymous please?

I know a handful of people whose parents, when asked about the circumstances of their birth and/or paternity, lied to them. In every case, when the truth came out (as it always does) there was a lot of pain to spread around.

I don't get the sense that anonymous is rejecting his/her father. The real issue here, I suspect, isn't so much the identity of the sperm donor but the fact that their parents lied to them for years about something fundamental to their identity. There are some family dynamics here about *why* their parents felt they had to hide the truth. There is nothing wrong with using sperm donors but lying to one's children *is* wrong.

Please consider talking to a therapist. Family secrets are corrosive and do a lot of damage- your questions are normal and you are going to have some stuff to work through.
posted by ambrosia at 9:59 AM on November 19, 2006 [2 favorites]

Whether you do or don't try to find out the identity of your biological father, the situation will probably cause difficulties for you and your family members. The ball is already rolling, the cat out of the bag. So you might as well pursue the course that you think best. If I were in your position, I would also be curious as to the identity of the donor. I do not see any reason to interpret what you're doing as an insult to the father who raised you; nothing you've said suggests that you do not appreciate what he's done for you or that you don't have "compassion" for him.

I wish I had more specific advice regarding your search. If it were me, I'd probably contact a lawyer and whatever adoption rights organizations I could find. Whenever I spoke to someone who knew more than I did, I'd ask questions until they got sick of hearing my voice. I'd keep notes regarding everything I did, said, wrote, read, and heard in the course of the investigation. If I left a message for someone and they didn't call me back, I'd call them again.

Best of luck.
posted by Clay201 at 10:06 AM on November 19, 2006

First of all, everyone going apeshit on the poster for being selfish and ungrateful is ridiculous. Everyone has a right to know where they came from and a right to be angry if someone has repeatedly denied them this information (whether or not this is graceful behaviour is another question).

That said, you should ask yourself why you want to know this. Is it because of hostility or feelings of resentment towards your adopted father? Are you using this as pretext for a fight? Is it worth it?

Another thing you should ask yourself is what you would do with the information if you had it? Even if you were to find this man, he would be a complete stranger. I hope you're not entertaining some subconscious fantasy about him making up for any failings of your adopted father.

And lastly, chances are you'll never know. Even if the doctor was alive, I imagine there would be confidentiality laws involved.
posted by Krrrlson at 10:11 AM on November 19, 2006

See if you can't check the deceased doctor's medical records. He might have something, anything, written down. Does he have a widow? She might know of any relevant journals he might have kept and could look through them for you. Find out who his staff were at the time. They do have "ethnicity tests," but I doubt they'd be that helpful.

You can get screened for various genetic illnesses, but be aware that they don't have tests for all of them, and that each test will run ... quite a bit of money. Prohibitive sums. Whereas a familial history ("the women in my family get breast cancer") is more feasible.

Yeah, yeah, compassion for your parents, but ... they should have known this day was coming. "They'll never catch on" and "even if they do, it isn't important" is one of those things parents excuse themselves with without thinking about the fact that one day infants will eventually be adults.

Keeping big secrets like this from people who have a right to know (just from the inherited health issues alone) is never smart. It may cause some familial strife, but it's strife your parents bought as part of the cost, whether or not they read the fine print, which people often fail to do in their consuming hunger to have a child. If your parents somehow convinced themselves that this day would never come, it's because they never thought about a child much past the point that they buy into the idea of Santa Claus just 'cause you told them to. Human beings (the eventual outcome of having children, hopefully) can figure things out (why don't I look like dad?) and have a hunger for identity.

I know everyone loves a good nature vs. nurture debate, but the results are in, and nature is a non-insignificant portion of our identity. Even if it's just fifty percent, that means that there's a quarter of you that you don't know about. Find out. Just do it with your eyes open. Recognize it will cause your parents some pain, but also be aware that the pain is something that they bought into.
posted by adipocere at 10:20 AM on November 19, 2006

What Krrrlson and adipocere said. Knock it off, all you people with your bullshit about "love your dad, he's your real father, he wiped your bottom" bla bla ad nauseam. The poster gave zero indication that she doesn't love and appreciate her father; she wants to know her biological background, and that's perfectly reasonable, and if you can't help, spare us all your pointless moralizing. Not to mention the flat-out lies:

Having been adopted and knowing many who did search for their bio parents, it never turns out well and you won't get the answers you want.

Wrong. I personally know a woman for whom it turned out fine and she got all the answers she wanted. But I don't go around claiming "it always turns out well and you will get the answers you want," because I have some regard for the truth.

To anonymous: good luck with your research, and I hope it goes well.
posted by languagehat at 10:42 AM on November 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

Having been adopted and knowing many who did search for their bio parents, it never turns out well

I just wanted to chime in to say I think the above statement - that it "never" turns out well" to search for lost parents - is an almost ridiculous overstatement. I interviewed some adoptees earlier this year looking to loosen contact laws, and heard a number of positive stories from adoptees *and* parents during and after the show.

This case is not an adoption case, however; it's a sperm donor case, which is not even close. I agree that there's little to be gained from continuing to cling to the search for the sperm donor at this point.
posted by mediareport at 10:54 AM on November 19, 2006

search for lost parents

I meant biological parents, of course.

posted by mediareport at 10:59 AM on November 19, 2006

Anon here - five dollars to clarify some things.

Your father is your father. He wiped your ass 10,000 times, sat up all night when you were colicky, threw the baseball around with you, took you to the hockey game, helped you with your math homework, whatever. Accept that. It doesn't matter in the slightest whose sperm or whose egg was involved.

This is utterly, utterly unfair. I know who my father is, and that's why I was careful to refer to him as my dad, unqualified, and my biological father as just that. But you have no idea what my family life is like, what my dad is like, and how I view him and our family situation. I obviously can't go into too much detail about my family life, but just know you (and many others here) are making a WHOLE lot of assumptions about my dad and my own perspective on him.

The e-mail address is a joke, you know, like "Who's Your Daddy" but without the "y."

I would never pursue anything if I thought it would hurt my dad - in fact, I will probably wait until he's dead to do much research into my biological history (he's in his seventies).

Believe me, I do have compassion for my parents, and I appreciate them more that I have the verbal prowess to convey. It's possible to love and accept them for who they are and still have mixed feelings about being lied to, and be curious about my genetic history.

But please stop with the bullshit about your burning need to know exactly what racial strain of NE European you are. Start talking straight; you owe it to your family.

Wanting to know my true ethnicity is not bullshit. Imagine you've been trying to reconcile some strange truths about yourself - your appearance, behavior, whatever - with the information you've been given, but it never quite fits. What's more, when you try to seek out answers, it's implied to you that you're crazy or selfish for even asking. Suddenly, you're told that the information you've been given was willfully deceitful, for many reasons. If you'd just accept that, I think that's wonderful. But I find it unfair that I'd be faulted for being shaken by such a paradigm shift, finding that my world makes a little more sense, and wanting to find out more.

For what it's worth, my mom is completely supportive of our curiosity - she even suggested looking through the alumni history of the medical school for clues.

Finally, I know about the twin girls who turned out black and white due to a genetic fluke, but I wasn't referring to that. I was referring to this:

"The hospital called it a “deeply regrettable mistake.” The report of the investigation still has not been made public, but speculation is that a piece of lab equipment called a pipette, like a large eyedropper, had been used twice, causing another man’s sperm to be mixed with Willem’s."
posted by twin1 at 11:08 AM on November 19, 2006 [2 favorites]

Have you tried contacting the hospital? It's possible that the doctor's records are still archived there, or may be retrievable from wherever they've been stored. Of course, the records may not have had the information you're looking for, or may have been destroyed, but you've got nothing to lose by asking.

You may also be able to, via the hospital, find the names of people who worked with the doctor in question. He must've had office staff, nurses, etc., who might possibly, though not probably, be able to remember something useful to you. Maybe the doctor had private records that they know about.

I hope you find something that helps you. I can't imagine how it must feel, but I think I understand why you feel the need to know.
posted by cerebus19 at 11:16 AM on November 19, 2006

I think the crux of this issue is the importance you feel in understanding who you are. This is not necessarily served by finding out about your biological father. Your drive to find this out is coming from somewhere real and it deserves to be dealt with. This is a complex issue. Who you are is at issue. If you can get clear on this within yourself the necessity of further exploration will come clear also.

Sorry I don't have a direct suggestion for you.

Good luck with a difficult situation.
posted by pointilist at 11:36 AM on November 19, 2006


I apologize for "bullshit;" that's too strong. And I know you're in an emotional vortex I can't imagine.

But I'm close to someone who looked for her biological dad. I don't think she was wrong to do it. But she came to acknowledge that part of the process was that she was seeking some kind of dad-ness out of this guy, a dad-ness that she felt was, at some level, missing in her life. After all the rationales about medical histories and the like fell away, she understood that dad-ness was what she was looking for. She never really found it.

There may be cases in which people seek out biological dads and, in the process, truly find that dad-ness and are happier for it. I would argue they're very few. But the point is: It sounds clear to me that that, and not an abstract curiosity about racial lineage and the like, is what you're looking for. I'd suggest it's best to acknowledge that.
posted by argybarg at 11:41 AM on November 19, 2006

If the doctor didn't use a sperm bank, I'll bet the doctor himself provided the sample. I mean how would he approach someone about that? Just randomly ask a patient? I doubt it.

Now you said you would be uncomfortable approaching his family. . . Of course you would be uncomfortable! It's because you shouldn't even be considering doing something like that! What would be the point? What would you say? I realize this is harsh, but to the person who provided you with half of your genes you aren't their child and you never will be. You are your father's daughter.

Also you need to realize most kids have NOTHING in common with at least one of their parents. Famliy dysfunction is rampant today. Your lucky you have things in common with your mother. Be greatful for that and move on. Your only doing this to yourself.

BTW- It would be selfish to tell your father you know. It would cause him nothing but pain. I'm sure it was hard enough on him.
posted by JakeLL at 11:49 AM on November 19, 2006

I vote "let it go", too
posted by matteo at 12:12 PM on November 19, 2006

Dear twin...

I find an uncomfortable parallel between what I am reading here in response to your posting and what you have been through with your family – I feel that despite people's good intentions, you are not being treated with integrity and compassion.

Instead, just as with your mother, you are being treated as if there is something wrong with you rather than with the choices your parents made (I'm sure with the best intentions) and your innate, human, perfectly understandable desire to know who you are.

Your parents made a terrible mistake in lying to you and your sister. I'm sure they have experienced anguish over it, but my experience is that these kinds of secrets are generally kept to protect the secret-bearer rather than to protect the person from whom the truth is being hidden.

I find your mother’s response that you now have more problems than you started out with to be unfair. Wanting to know the truth is healthy and appropriate. Lying about something so important is not.

No one else gets to decide what matters to you. You have the right to want to know as much as possible about yourself and your genetic history. The idea that you cannot seek out this information without betraying your father is absurd.

Your father betrayed you and your sister. It wasn’t his intention. I’m sure he wouldn’t hurt you for all the world, but he participated in the situation you find yourself in – part of the basic foundation of your life is built on a lie. You have the right to have feelings about that and he does not need to be protected from those feelings (expressed appropriately and with compassion) or your need for the truth.

On a more scientific note, the genetic question you are asking is complex – race is primarily a social construct rather than a genetic one. You might find this article helpful. It might help you, just on a psychological level, to get your DNA profile. DNA testing could tell if you and your sisters share the same father. The fact that you are very different is not unusual – the DNA of the mother and father combine to make the DNA of the child and there are so many possible combinations, diverse characteristics are not unusual. Since this seems to be one of the few “facts” you can get your hands on, you might consider doing it – it may bring some comfort to you and your sister.

I hope that in your journey to understand the implications of this life-altering news you are met with compassion and love. You are not responsible for the situation you find yourself in - you are responsible for how you go forward, but not for where you are starting from. You appear to be handling it with respect and care.

You have received what I think of as a primal wound and you have the right to define it that way if you want. No one has the right to frame the experience for you – you get to decide how to move through it. In the long run going through it will be better for both you and your parents than continuing the legacy of pretending it didn't happen or that it doesn't matter since you were loved and cared for growing up.

For people who would tell you to get on with life, I would say this is life, these journeys down and through and back up into the light. It takes courage to grieve, it takes courage to feel. It takes courage to say, "this matters," when those around you say that it doesn't. Or shouldn't.

You have a chance here, I think, to bring your family closer, to be bonded without a silent lie permeating the connections. These lies matter whether we pretend like they do or not.
posted by orsonet at 12:47 PM on November 19, 2006 [4 favorites]

I don't think it would be selfish to tell your dad that you know. (Although obviously you'll want to work with your mom on deciding how best to tell him.) I would think it will be a relief for the four of you to finally be able to talk about it. Just as I'm sure it was a relief to your mom, on some level, to be able to tell you and be able to talk about it with someone.

I think it would be good to at least contact the doctor's old office or find out where his records were kept -- it would be surprising if he had not anticipated that some medical history from the donor would be useful to you. If you can't find out this way, and if the doctor/a med student of the time wasn't exceptionally tall, then it's probably best to let it go. Even though it will be hard to let go the feeling that you're missing an important set of information, remember that many people don't know the medical/ethnic history of their families anyway.

And yes, therapy - not because there's anything wrong with the way you're reacting (there isn't), but because it would be helpful to have a detached person to talk with while you try to figure out how to navigate your feelings and family situation right now.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:14 PM on November 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

I'm amazed at the direction this thread took. What the hell?

As languagehat and others say, the "your dad is your read dad" stuff is highly offensive, and the "just drop it" people should take their own advice.

Can't you understand the power of simple curiosity, apart from anything else?

And as for "it never turns out well", that's just ludicrous.

Good luck with your search, twin1, please update us if you can.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 3:22 PM on November 19, 2006

In many ways this is an existential question made real. And many people's answers are reflecting their core beliefs on what makes a person who they are, as opposed to what you should do.

I say good luck in sorting out what advice to take from this thread. Lot of blustering on many sides, so likely you will choose what feels right to you, which may or may not be the best thing to do.

Someone mentioned up-thread that this is very different than an adoption issue, this is true. You might be able to find out some medical information, but I would be very surprised if you ever find a name.

Good luck in what you choose to do.
posted by edgeways at 4:00 PM on November 19, 2006

I'm sorry if my first response seemed callous. I'm also sorry I assumed you were thinking about the wrong fraternal twin case. I still stick by the assertion that given what you said, there isn't a whole lot of reason to think that there were two separate sperm donations.

I admit I cannot understand how nerve-wracking this situation is, and I was not trying to excuse your mother from lying to you for many years. I didn't realize that your mother was encouraging your curiosity and need to find closure. Given all these factors, I wish you the best of luck figuring this information out, although I'm sorry I can't give much specific tactics for find this out.
posted by piratebowling at 4:19 PM on November 19, 2006

As a fraternal twin myself, the differences can be quite startling. I'm the male half of male/female twins, and unless you tell someone that we are related, they would NEVER guess.

Me - tall, broad shouldered, florid complexion, curly / crazy light brown hair, blue eyes.

Sis - much shorter, dark straight hair, brown eyes, even complexion.

Even in our behaviour we are very, very different.

I don't think the differences between the two of you warrant a DNA test to find out if you share the same father, but if it makes things easier for you then you probably should.

Someone above mentioned that the doctor may have himself been the donor, and I wonder if this is an avenue that could be pursued, it was the first thing that popped into my head. It wouldn't be the first time this has happened.
posted by tomble at 5:24 PM on November 19, 2006

Secrets can do a family a lot of harm. I'm not talking about the identity of the sperm-provider -- I mean your mother's well-meaning evasion, and now your not talking with your dad. There's no shame in adoption, surrogacy, donated sperm, etc., though many parents don't really know how talk about it with their kids. Now that you know about it, talking about it would probably be a good thing.

"Dropping it" would never give you a chance to get comfortable with your new knowledge, and to relate to your parents honestly in light of it. It sounds as if your mother is in the dark as to the donor's identity, and you probably won't ever be able to find out. But the rest of it -- the secrecy and the bad feelings it's covered and fostered -- has to be dealt with.

You and your twin need to talk with both your parents if you can. They may tell you what they went through emotionally when they couldn't conceive, how they felt about the doctor's solution, what it's been like for them to lie about your parentage... important things. Your parents wanted children and went about getting them in a manner that's not at all shameful. Get it out in the open. Your mother isn't doing your dad any favors now, not telling him that you know.

Once you get out from under the deception and the secrecy, you might feel differently about searching out your biological father. You can deal with that in a while.
posted by wryly at 5:40 PM on November 19, 2006

I think you should do everything you can to satisfy your need to know. Anything less will be a major distraction that will affect your everyday being. Only you know when to let it go. I would pursue the records of the doctor through either whomever purchased the practice or whatever became of the medical records. I am sure the executor of the doctor's estate knows what became of them. It is unlikely they were simply destroyed immediately.

All these others who are telling you how you should feel, screw 'em. Do what feels right for yourself.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:50 PM on November 19, 2006

I, too, am astonished at the direction this thread has taken; what AC said.

OP, you have every right to want to know who your biological father is. From what you've said I think that it's likely the doctor provided the sperm himself, and that is probably your best bet.

Good luck.
posted by sennoma at 11:25 PM on November 19, 2006

How many of the naysayers have unknown parentage? I'd guess Hmm? Who knows.

I'm adopted, and I know almost nothing of my bio parents, except a statement I got at age 18 about their ethnic origins. Hardly satisfying.

There is no end to what I want to know about my bio parents. As for motivation, funny enough, some motive is rooted in some concern for my bio-mother's well being. Who'd have thought? Probably only someone in similar circumstance.

Best of luck finding out what you can.
posted by Goofyy at 2:07 AM on November 20, 2006

Good luck. It sounds to me like you might want to speak with your dad about this before embarking on the quest. If you explain to him, gently, and without criticism, that you just want to find out your biological antecedents, and that ytou love him, perhaps it would be freeing to you, and you could go forward with less ambivalence?

Regarding the resemblances, I agree with most of the people here, that you'd be surprised what genetics can do. My husband and his brother look nothing alike and have very different personalities. It does happen. However, my understanding is that back in the old days of sperm donation, it was fairly common for them to mix multiple donors. (This is anecdotal. Might be something to look into, though.)

I am sorry people here are being so critical. It does not seem at all warranted. As long as you go about it with love and respect you should follow your heart and find out what you need to know.
posted by miss tea at 4:33 AM on November 20, 2006

My sympathies. About three years ago my mother told me that the man I had always known as my grandfather was not actually my grandfather. My biological grandfather was divorced from my grandmother when my mom was a baby, and the man I knew as my grandfather married my grandmother and raised my mom. When I was born, the family decided not to tell me that my grandmother's husband wasn't actually my biological grandfather. They were afraid that I (and future grandkids) wouldn't love him as much. Long story, but we know next to nothing about my bio grand-dad.

So, a similar situation, although the fact that it was a grandfather not a father means my emotional response was much less than yours. My response has been sadness for the loss of a lot of what I thought I shared with my grandfather, and sadness for the loss of my Italian heritage - until then I had felt proud of being part Italian. I feel sadness for my grandfather, who lived our lives knowing that I wasn’t actually his biological grandchild. I feel a certain irritation, because that grandfather was a huge pain in the neck – maybe I wouldn’t have let him get to me as much as I did if I knew we weren’t related by blood. I also have a fair amount of curiosity - What is that 1/4 ethnicity? What was my bio grandfather's religion? If my mother isn't half Italian, why does she have such an olive complexion and dark hair (her mother was Swedish)? I also have developed a certain distrust for my mother – I wonder what else she may be hiding from me. (There was another huge secret she told my sister and I about ten years ago.) My sister (who is adopted) and I frequently joke about what other skeletons in the closet she might unload on us in the future. I also hate secrets, and I’ve understood that this is to be kept a secret, because it involves my mom’s life and biology as well as mine. So I still have to pretend with others that he was my biological grandfather, that my mother is half Italian, etc. I also feel a great sadness for my mother, who was raised by a difficult man (who she still loved) knowing that he was not her biological father, and knowing that the biological father was a major jerk. About three years have passed, and I still feel those emotions, although somewhat less.

As for advice…. First of all, I think you need to hash this out with your mother – she lied to you repeatedly, and that was not fair. She was clearly trying to do what was best, but the result has been very painful to you. If it’s a concern that she may be concealing other info, let her know that you now worry about that.

Second, I have to return to the advice of those that say that you might be best letting it go, as far as the effort to find out who the sperm donor was. The reasons I say this is that it probably will be difficult (on you and your family and possibly others) to sort out this mystery, and quite possibly you won’t resolve the issue; also, it’s possible the sperm donor doesn’t want to be a part of your lives (sorry, that’s harsh, but he did do this anonymous donation after all); and, it could be quite expensive to find out. In addition, I have been able to move on from that shocker without dredging up the old history, and I think I’m happier for it. That may just be my personality, though.

Third, I agree with those that say you and your sister probably are really fraternal twins. Just go by the statistics – it seems extremely rare that the sort of mishaps you referred to (with the Dutch babies, and others) occur. But if it will help to be sure, than do the tests. This is one area where you really can be sure.

Finally, I know you’re in shock right now, but I think you’ll find you can accept this part of your history, and move on. Good luck to you and your sister!
posted by Amizu at 9:01 AM on November 20, 2006

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