Extended family

National Sibling Day for Donor Siblings


Yesterday was National Sibling Day.  Did you know?  I didn’t know until it was too late.  It was too late for me to organize some sort of card exchange or celebratory cupcakes for the boys, allowing them to officially appreciate each other.  I wouldn’t mind establishing an annual tradition of brotherly love for our two sons.

Next year, I tell myself.  Next year, we’ll do something to recognize the day.  Next year, both brothers will say a few nice words and then maybe go swing side by side on the two swings in the backyard or maybe we’ll get them a tandem bicycle for the two of them to ride together, or….

That nagging voice interrupts my event planning with an uninvited correction.

There are more than two of them.

Shut up, Voice!  I know!

It’s true.  There are others.  I don’t know how many for certain, but I am certain there are more out there thanks to some Jewish mother who told her son that he was God’s gift, so he donated millions of his swimmers to a sperm bank, providing a service to all those in search of mensch genes.

I’ve been to Donor Sibling Registry to check out how many kids our donor has spawned, but it’s an incomplete list.  I know the list is incomplete because I haven’t registered my own name, and I assume there are other lurking parents, too.   I confess that the idea of opting into a polygynous tribe like a herd of elephant seals makes me wee bit uncomfortable, perhaps due to the fact that I am describing us all as a herd of elephant seals; admittedly not the most flattering of comparisons.

There have been a number of articles and documentaries about children of donors who reach out to their half-siblings through the Donor Sibling Registry in order to find connection as in Kids of 5114 and Donor Unknown. When they meet, they marvel at their physical similarities, shared mannerisms and mutual interests.  They find a deeper understanding of who they are.  Would we deny our own children that experience?  No, we wouldn’t, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it.  We certainly did not choose the donor sperm path in order to plug in to some sort of extended family.  What do all of us parents have in common anyway?  We all wanted skinny, Jewish children who were destined to wear corrective eyewear?

I imagine the first meeting of all our donor families.  It’s a summer picnic, potluck of course.  I picture Big Love without Bill, Sister Wives without Kody, and I ask myself if the mother of the oldest child is the First Wife.  Then I berate myself for fearing the unknown.  I picture our boys checking out their newfound half siblings and identifying all the donor traits they have in common.  They quickly realize that while the donor provided them all with impossibly thick eyelashes, I alone am responsible for the ears that stick straight out from the sides of their heads like Mr. Potato Head’s.  I wonder if they will resent me for their sticky out ears.


Then I imagine that eventually I get over myself.  I find an ease amongst parents who wanted to create their own families just like we did and who are there to support their children’s curiosity and openness.  I imagine our children find answers and connection and are as grateful to our donor as we are.

Who knows if the day will come when the boys ask to find their donor-siblings.  They will take the lead on this one.  If they want to know them, we will do whatever we can to make it happen.  After that, we’ll have to play it by my Mr. Potato Head ear.



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  1. Thought provoking. And the clips you linked to were fascinating.

    • Thanks Katey911! I’m glad you took the time to watch those videos. The experiences of those kids and their parents helped take the fear out of our own potential meet up – should it ever happen.

  2. Oh can I relate. I am not really all that interested in more extended family! Awkward-making opportunities abound! But I feel so conflicted about that. Like you, our boys will be the drivers of this.

    • I’ve got my fingers crossed that the boys don’t ask until after their Bar Mitzvahs. Who knows how many more we’d have to add to the guest list?!? Kidding aside, awkward indeed!

  3. I’m curious (this is for anyone willing to share), are your kids aware that they have donor siblings? I’d love to hear the choices that folks who have used sperm bank donors have made around the donor sibling issue. If you’d rather not talk about it in this forum, I totally understand.

    • I hope this does spark some conversation. I’d love to hear from families with older kids who know and/or have met donor siblings. I could use some guidances. I need a ‘What To Expect When You’re Expecting…Donor Siblings.’

  4. Love your potato head ears.

    I checked the registry after you first talked to me about this and there is nothing from our donor. Maybe nobody wanted a donor who was only 5’6″.

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