What are the odds of a Seattle woman finding love 12 years after giving birth by donor?

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Aaron Long, a formerly anonymous sperm donor, reckons he may have fathered 67 children. His girlfriend, once in a same-sex marriage, gave birth to a now-13-year-old daughter using his sperm…

When Jessica Share decided to conceive a family, she purchased sperm from a sperm bank. She never expected to encounter the donor, much less develop romantic feelings for him, more than a decade later…..

My first-born daughter was born in 2005, making me the first lesbian mom I knew of.

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In the American Midwest, where I grew up, the few lesbians I knew who had kids were those who had had them with their heterosexual partners. But my GF and I had to start from square one.

We’d always hoped to start a family together, even before we met. Collectively, we settled on four and came up with their names. The next phase proved to be more challenging.

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My GF mentioned that her sibling-in-law might be able to assist. He seemed receptive, but I enrolled in a course on homosexual and lesbian legal rights via my university’s college of law and rapidly abandoned hope of finding a recognizable benefactor. They were granted custody because the courts viewed their donation of sperm as a form of parental care. When the moms died, the children were taken away and given to men they hardly knew.

Thank goodness we found a sperm bank that would send the vials directly to our house, and the donors signed papers preventing them from laying claim to their offspring in the future.

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I was gonna carry the first child because I was working on my dissertation while at home. We found a donor who was a good fit for my now-wife by looking for someone of similar build, with a background in literature and an interest in sports.

The benefactor’s occupations included those of writer, pianist, and taxi driver. My wife and I liked to fantasize that he was avoiding a desk job so that he might write the Great American Novel by compiling the experiences of the passengers he picked up in his cab.

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Little else was known about the donor, but the brief health history they all filled out gave us more confidence than we would have had with a casual lover. To our knowledge, no photograph was ever revealed.

Having a baby at home was like a real-life science experiment, and I loved every minute of it. The amount of sperm sold to consumers often does not exceed half of a lip balm cap, and it is delivered to them in a 3-foot tall liquid nitrogen tank with a return label for overnight shipping. The tiny plastic vial must be removed from its resting place on the counter before it can be warmed to the hand, at which point it can be removed from the vial without the use of gloves. The neighborhood pharmacist can give a little syringe to use to inseminate. Sperm have a one-day shelf life after being revived since frozen items are weaker than their fresh counterparts. They will die if an egg doesn’t come along soon.

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A somber monthly ceremony developed around getting as many sperm as possible within touching distance of the egg. For maximum coverage, I would inseminate twice. After all, it would take you five hours to swim the length of your uterus. This is just one of the many things I’ve learnt about using donor semen for in vitro fertilization.

Seven months later, my wife and I learned that we were expecting our first child.

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This news of our upcoming pregnancy was shared with my grandparents. Grandma’s reaction: “Oh, it’s due in June!” My granddad was interested in learning more about IVF, so I told him about it.

Since we never expected to see the benefactor again, we didn’t give them much of our attention. My wife was particularly averse to the idea of ever letting our children know him – she felt that love created a family, and I agreed. But we paid honor to his literary DNA by reading thousands of books to our gestating bookworm.

When Alice was born, she was perfect.

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Any previous assumptions that DNA specificity was unimportant were dispelled. We both felt it was our duty to perpetuate this miraculous creature we had helped bring into existence. When our daughter Alice was 18 months old, my wife and I decided to have another child using donor sperm.

The two girls had many similarities. Knowing how my wife and I appeared as kids, it was fun to pick out features only girls shared: they were both exceptionally tall, not ordinary height, as the donor claimed to be. They both had perfect pronunciations, electrifying eyes that glistened like emeralds underwater, and long, slender mouths.

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Nonetheless, when our daughters were only one and three, my wife decided that she was leaving us. There had never been any fighting in our family, so this news came as a complete shock to me. She basically told me our marriage was over, and she had no interest in discussing the matter.

After their mother passed away, I took care of the sisters full-time, five days a week, for a few years. However, during a family vacation, my ex-partner cut off all contact with Alice when she was 10 years old, blocked her phone, and kept Alice and her younger sister from returning home.

This remains the situation now.

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None of Alice’s relatives on my ex-side wife’s have bothered to send her a birthday card in over two years. Alice spends her days fantasizing about the sister she was raised with and with who she is frightened she may never see again.

Alice understands better than most kids her age that you can’t build a family on blood or even on love between parents. This was not a case where having children would have kept her mother around. A decade of research into her family’s genetics revealed only subtle differences. Still, they seemed to play no role in shaping who she was.

Yet, Alice was curious about her family's background.

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My mom had always enjoyed sharing our Cornish background with everyone who would listen. Wanting to discover what her genetic history was, Alice requested a DNA testing kit from her grandma for Christmas when she was 11 years old.

About eight weeks later, we got the findings back. Without expecting anything to happen, I explored the DNA Relatives page. On the other hand, the first line I saw was, “Half a chance, according to Aaron Long. Father.”

"Percentage-wise, Bryce Gallo is at 25%. Half-brother, "was following closely.

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Even while I was aware the possibility existed, I didn’t think it would actually occur. I googled Aaron before leaving a comment so I could see what information was already out there.

There are many people named Aaron Long, so I knew I had to do some digging to discover “the one.” I looked for leads on a business-oriented social media platform. I squinted at each Aaron Long and pondered whether or not I would be able to identify the benefactor.

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The year of donation (1994) was written on one of the sperm vials, allowing us to more precisely pinpoint the birth and graduation years in question. Only one individual in the appropriate age group held a master’s degree in literature, and his name was Aaron Long. His shot showed him wearing an olive-green silk turban while playing the trombone. According to his profile, he works as a “communications specialist” in Seattle. Both a musician and a writer.

I found a Seattleite called Aaron Long on another social media site, complete with his proper workplace and a gallery of school images from elementary school on up.

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Nothing could be questioned. The two youngest of my four daughters always pull that expression.

I hurriedly typed him a note on the DNA testing site. As it was written:

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I hope all is well, Aaron. Two of my daughters are matches for you (the youngest is with my ex-wife and is, therefore, not on the DNA testing site). We would love to swap photos of our families or do other similar things if you are interested.

I figured I’d use my youngest daughter’s cuteness as a “curiosity hook” to get him interested in responding to my letter so I could show him images of her. Within minutes, Aaron responded with an email that included information I had already uncovered on my own. He asked whether or not I had any queries, to which I responded by inquiring whether or not he was the shortest member of his family. To which I had a ready response. He was.

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After agreeing to become Facebook friends, Aaron forwarded me his entire life story (all fifty pages of it), which I read in one sitting. He was a local legend, having fronted a band for years in our hometown. I wondered how many times we had passed him at the grocery store.

Bryce, who had recently finished his degree, also received a letter from me. He informed me he tracked out Madi, his 19-year-old half-sister, and had also gotten in touch with the other parents. He stated Aaron had six kids, and I was the seventh and eighth. Bryce told me he grew up with a younger sister; maybe Madi, who was reared as an only child, would like to get to know Alice.

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For Alice, learning about her DNA cousins is only somewhat fascinating, and she had to be coaxed into penning her life story to Aaron. She recently lost her sister and is in mourning. I tell her that she has the important task of protecting these strangers until her sister is ready to meet them, at which point she will have the chance to introduce herself. But her sister is the one she prefers to spend time with.

Bryce and Madi decided to visit Seattle’s Aaron a few months later. Alice wanted to check if she had any resemblance to the siblings and Aaron. I gave my blessing for her to take part.

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Aaron threw a party and invited many of his pals from grade school up through college. Every one of his exes, along with their current significant others and offspring, was invited. When he finally had biological children, they all camped out on the roof to celebrate. I quickly realized that Aaron had no one he wouldn’t welcome back into his inner circle.

We took a trip to an arts festival, went to a nearby sculpture garden, and played a “nature or nurture” game that revealed some startling parallels.

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Bryce may have protested at first, but eventually he and Madi competed for Alice’s attention. They had dinner together during their trip when they first met. Alice visited two nearby eateries and returned with food from both. Bryce sent her a Star of David in the mail later. Madi sent an amethyst. These represent the various qualities she shares with each of them.

For several years, I dated a man with a similar last name to mine, Aaron David.

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Donor Aaron made a seductive remark on vacation that there had been a mix-up at the Bureau of Boyfriends. I smiled and demurred. Because I was already in a committed relationship, I knew that my kids would benefit from having Aaron as a donor, but I didn’t feel he belonged in my life. To avoid disappointing them, I refrained from giving any details.

Since breaking up with old Aaron, I’ve been trying to figure out if the person who raised my kids might also be the one who raised me, and if Seattle is a safe place for us to land while we do so. Aaron’s generosity and continuous relationship with his exes convinced me that it would be safe to give it a chance.

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One night, we traveled the neighborhood and sat in a small cemetery, chatting about DNA, what the kids were like, and what our dreams were.

Many heterosexual couples dream of having children who look like both of them when they first start dating and eventually get married. Ten years had passed since I had first encountered those tiny people. I spent my first date with Aaron describing their lives to him. I had met him before, so I knew he was similar to the people I adore the most. He was already family in certain respects. His smile and his coloring are those of my younger daughter. How about his compassion and socialism? In my family, he is the oldest.

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It’s not clear whether or not genetics played a factor in how we became close. For all the reasons that appeared so great when I was browsing for a sperm donor in a catalogue all those years ago, I know that I am attracted to Aaron. He has a deep mind, is persistent, and is dedicated to his studies. When it comes to language, he becomes enraptured. He has great sympathy and a wealth of knowledge about the peculiarities of human nature. He doesn’t give a hoot about meeting expectations. He frequently performs his own songs. Following the beat of his own drum. Wearing a turban is an option.

How many individuals believe that the ideal genetic material is a taxi driver who also happens to be a singer and writer?

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In the summer of 2017, Alice and I moved into Aaron’s co-op. Given the size of the structure, another of Aaron’s bio-children could easily have made it their new home. Madi, a transplant from the East Coast, found the right-brained, left-wing attitude of Aaron (and Seattle) appealing, so she moved out here this spring.

My daughter and I recently joined a Girl Scout group alongside Aaron’s second biological child, who lives approximately an hour away and is the same age as my youngest.

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As a mother, I would feed, clean up after, and care for any additional half-siblings indefinitely. My children’s siblings, the grandparents’ biological relatives. I don’t care for them as a parent would, but for some reason, I always end up feeding them. The likeness between some and Alice is uncanny. The others look like my baby girl. They don’t have Aaron’s appearance, but their similarities are striking.

Aaron’s elderly mother and her cat, Bill, have also relocated there. We adopted a kitten with Alice from her neighbor down the hall. Having a family in so many different configurations throughout the years has taught me more about the meaning of family than anyone could ever hope to know. Choosing a donor based on their DNA now has much greater significance than when I originally did it. Family is formed on love, not genetics; this truth remains unchallenged. The ability to accept that kind of love is what creates a family. Everyone has the option of remaining a part of the group. It’s okay to have a wide variety of friendships.

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Nobody knows for sure, although Aaron has speculated that he has as many as 67 biological children. Maybe the building can’t keep everyone in it forever, but I’ve got sandwiches, and the door’s open.

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