A stranger got me pregnant. It’s true. Though this is something that plenty of people would choose to keep a secret, I openly admit it. Even my husband knows all about it. Heck, the stranger was his idea. I never really saw the stranger’s face and I never caught his name, only his number. It was a 4 digit donor code. Number 3874* and I… we made a baby in a doctor‘s office with the help of a plump blonde nurse named Alice.
The story is a great deal more complicated than that. There was testing and surgery and a whole lot of tears. Tactless people would ask why my husband would allow another man to get me pregnant. Mike would just smile. Little did the world know the lengths in which he had gone to build a family. He had endured more pain than a thousand other men would just to PREVENT themselves from becoming fathers. This made him the most masculine of men and reinforced in my mind, that no other man would earn this love quite so well.
After the surgeries and testing, we went through the donor list as our last resort. There were pages of possible… POPsicles. (See what I did there?) We each picked our favorite ten. Four of them overlapped so I handed the final numbers to Mike and made him pick his half of the baby.
“I get a boy feeling from this guy,” he said, handing me the page. About a year later, our son, Colin, was born and he looked exactly like… neither one of us. Everything was wonderful. Then things got weird.
Apparently, it is no longer like the old days. You know… when you could buy a vial of sperm of the internet, no questions asked. Wait… was that not ever a thing? Well, if you want some designer DNA just know that, well, the good stuff gets passed around.
I ended up writing this on the heels of a new reality show airing on MTV called, “Generation Cryo,” in which a group of 15 biological half siblings go in search of their donor. Fifteen sound like a lot? I would have thought so too 6 years ago, but then I got an email…
It was from another mom and she found me on the sibling registry. As the name suggests, this is a site to register your birth and open yourself up to the option of being contacted by the parent of a half sibling. I debated joining, but I figured that there was no real harm in it. Liz* introduced herself and explained that she had a son, Luke, that was exactly 6 months younger than my Colin. To put it mildly, I freaked out. What did this woman want? Was she a crazy person? Did her son have an illness and she needed a kidney? SHE WANTED MY BABY’S KIDNEY! I JUST KNEW IT! No, back up Momma. Take a deep breath and read. There was an attachment. I opened it. A little boy I never met, another stranger, stared back at me… with my son’s eyes. My heart unclenched.
Month and years passed and every so often Liz would pop up with another found sibling. All of us would gently introduce ourselves as perfectly sane parents who were definitely NOT looking for kidneys. Some of us are single mothers by choice, same-sex couples, and Mike and I are in the minority, with one other, as a “traditional” couple. We would all exchange Christmas cards, and pictures. One little girl looks so much like my son that even he calls her, “Girl Colin.” We started a group on Facebook. Some of our mom troop may be reading this right now and some of the 10 (yes, TEN) kids have met already.
The weirdness of this is not lost on me. Not just the weirdness of seeing a guy in line for Star Tours and thinking, “He looks a little like a grown up version of Colin. I wonder if I bought his sperm,” but weirdness of slowly developing a family of strangers because someday, they might be important to your child. The truth is, they have become important to me, because these women represent something larger than a strand of DNA. They represent how we, as human beings, are all connected. Our connection was handed to us in black and white, in a file, on a computer. Others often have to look much longer and harder.
In all honesty, I hope that Colin never finds a need to locate his donor as these 15 on Generation Cryo have. I suppose it is because I would like to think that we are enough for him, much like an adoptive family might feel. I hope he never feels that a piece is missing, but if he does, then maybe his amazing half siblings might bridge the gap. Also, I, myself, like 3874 to be a mystery. I like to think that since no real weirdos exist in the bunch of these mothers, that he must be the nut in our odd little family tree. After all, if they are all perfectly lovely people, and every family has that person, then the nut might just be the one writing this story. So, thank you open-minded husband. Thank you mom troop. Thank you donor dude. And most of all… thank you science, you weird and wonderful thing.
*Name and Donor number has been changed