Tuesday, May 1, 2012

FAQs - Part 2

A few years ago, I blogged answers to questions most commonly asked of me. While my answers to those questions have not changed, the questions I am most frequently asked are now different. Increasingly, I am receiving more letters from donor-conceived people who come across my blog after hearing my story or by random google searches. Several now write me each week to ask where to begin a search for family. This FAQ post is intended to help those of you who may be too hesitant to write me directly. 1. Post your information on the Donor Sibling Registry, or DSR. If you were conceived anytime after the mid to late 1980s, you should have an assigned donor number from the clinic that will help you connect to your donor and your half-siblings. Your donor-conceived siblings will share the same donor number as you. You may also have helpful indepth non-identifying information about your donor including eye color, height, weight, heritage, education, and interests. The DSR enables you to post by clinic name and location, and therefore is beneficial even to those of us who are older and have no information to go on beyond the name of a school or a city. 2. Submit your DNA to Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) and/or 23andme. These are voluntary DNA databases that will connect you to both maternal and paternal relatives who have also submitted their DNA. Both databases provide information about your heritage. Some members are lucky enough to match to siblings, aunts, uncles, or first cousins; it is purely a matter of luck. These databases are incredible resources for those affected by adoption, donor conception, or any other issue (affairs or one night stands, as examples) that causes a complete disconnect between a child and biological relative. Each site has advantages and disadvantages. You are more likely to receive a closer match (for example, a 3rd cousin versus a 5th cousin) on 23andme than FTDNA. Through 23andme, you will also be tested to find your risk factor for developing various illnesses from mental health concerns to Alzheimer's to different types of cancer. The trade off is that many of your matches on 23andme (your relatives) may never release any information about themselves to you, including their names. Instead, you will oftentimes see a silhoutte with information about the degree of your relationship next to it and never receive a reply from them. All communication must initially take place through the site. In addition, there is an indefinite $9 monthly fee to continue to receive access to the updated database. In contrast, FTDNA members know in advance that all matches will receive their first and last names, any listed family surnames, countries of origin, and contact information. Most join FTDNA for the sole purpose of establishing relationships with newly found relatives. While your matches may be more distant, they will likely be eager to speak with you and to assist you in any way possible. All fees are paid upfront with no monthly cost. 3. If you were conceived through egg, sperm, or embryo donation and are above the age of 18, consider joining the online support group People Conceived by Artificial Insemination, or PCVAI. While this will probably not be helpful in locating family, it is a nonjudgmental, diverse group where you may safely discuss your thoughts and feelings.

5 comments:

Rene' said...

I discovered, as an adult, that my father, while in medical school in the late 1950's in Oklahoma, was a sperm donor. Thus, it's very possible that I have older siblings. I had my DNA done and hope that at some point, if they are out there, that they will contact me as I would happily welcome them and supply their medical and genealogical information.

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