I Took AncestryDNA And Found Out That I Have 36 Siblings

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I Took AncestryDNA And Found Out That I Have 36 Siblings
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It has changed my life.

By Allison Keating

All my life I grew up with one brother. I was shopping in Windsor one day when I spontaneously checked my phone. I noticed I had a Facebook messenger notification from a woman I didn’t know.

The woman’s name was Tracy. She said she matched with me on AncestryDNA as half-siblings and asked me if I was donor-conceived. My mind was blown.

A couple of months ago, I snatched a half-off deal on AncestryDNA. Because my family used an anonymous sperm donor, I didn’t know my ethnicities or anything about my paternal side. 

When people would ask, “What are you?” it always made me feel left out, because that was a question that I couldn’t quite answer. Wanting those answers, I decided to figure it out on my own and ordered a DNA kit.

Yes, I knew it was possible that I would find siblings, but I also knew that there was a chance I wouldn’t. 

I eagerly awaited for my DNA results that took 8 weeks to come in, that would tell me my ethnicity, match me to relatives who have also tested through the database, and tell me the likely degree of relation to those relatives that I match with when Tracy had messaged me.

I couldn’t believe it. As I scrolled through Tracy’s Facebook, I couldn’t stop thinking about how we had the same father. I studied her face. She was someone who was also donor-conceived, she understood what it was like to be asked about your family, and to not know all the answers to those questions.

She was another person who not only understood the emptiness of not knowing anything about the other half of their DNA, but someone who also shared half of my DNA. My hands shook while I responded to Tracy: “Yes, I am donor-conceived.” 

I rushed to the AncestryDNA app and opened up my DNA matches. My results were in and my list of “close family” DNA matches was extensive. These were not relatives from my mom’s side.

I received another notification from Tracy. My jaw dropped, and I burst into tears. I slowly sat down on a bench in the middle of this clothing store, staring at my phone in disbelief.

Suddenly, my semi-formal didn’t matter. Suddenly, nothing else mattered. 

“There’s about 34 of us. I can add you to our giant group chat.” 

I had 32 people to meet, remember, and a huge life change to process. 32 people had the same biological father as me. I was very lucky, too.

Not all donor-conceived individuals are willing to meet their half siblings, yet I had 32 who were open to talking to me. So, there I cried, in the middle of Windsor.

RELATED: 20 Reasons A Sister Is The Best Friend You'll Ever Have

Tracy added me to the group chat and my phone blew up. I finally saw the faces and heard the stories of all these siblings that I never knew existed, some who resembled me. I had brothers from another mother... sibs from another crib, literally. They were so welcoming.

Almost all of us are involved in outdoor recreation, and are artistic in some way, perhaps this is a trait that came from our dad’s side? They were from a variety of states and the age range was 11-25.

Some had wild stories for finding they were donor-conceived: through fights, after years of questioning their biological parents, through DNA testing. Others had known about their biological origins since birth.

To blow my mind, I learned that two siblings went to the same high school district as me, which led me to wonder, were there more siblings that I didn’t know about that went to the same high school as me? Is anyone I grew up with unknowingly a half-sibling? Do any of them go to my university?

I have no idea how many more half-siblings we have, as the sperm donation clinic is widely unregulated. My new answer to, “Hey, you look like so-and-so, are you related to them?” is, “I don’t know, maybe.”

I am now in a wonderful group chat with my biological siblings and have awesome people and places to visit. I can say quite confidently that DNA testing was one of my best purchases ever.

Since February, four more siblings have been found. Equaling a total of 36 siblings so far, to this date, and I’m sure as DNA testing popularizes, we have yet to find more. 

I’m related to a heck of a lot of people. My kids will have too many cousins to even remember. But hey, we got some good genes.

My story is not unique. Although we do not know how many donor-conceived people are in this world, my story is quite common. I am determined to help the voices in the same position be heard and spread awareness of this family dynamic.

RELATED: 3 Hopes All Older Siblings Have For Their Younger Siblings

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Allison Keating is a writer who focuses on family, parenting, and love. For more of her family content, visit her author profile on Unwritten.

This article was originally published at Unwritten. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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