Emilie and Nathan Palmer have always known they were donor-conceived. They are one-half of a set of donor conceived quadruplets and their parents were always up front with the fact that their mother needed some help conceiving them and their other two siblings, Ben and Adam. In their small town in Utah, they were the only quadruplets, and the only egg donor conceived children. But it was the first trait that made them stand out more than the second.
Having an automatic large family and built-in best friends from birth, like the Palmers do, they never realized that it wasn’t normal for children to be born in multiples. Emilie tells the story of going to a cousin’s house to see the new baby and wandering all over the house looking for “the other children.” While Julie and her husband were overjoyed to have a large family all at once, they decided that 4 was enough. Julie was not the kind of mom who dressed the children in matching outfits, letting each child be their own individual little person. They were matched with a group of quadruplets in California that was the mirror of their sibling group – 3 girls and one boy that they became pen pals with an ultimately have met on several occasions.
It wasn’t until they were in High School when they had to do Punnett Squares that their being donor conceived became an issue. Who was their donor? The only information they had was they had been part of program at the University of Utah, Salt Lake and a physical description of their donor.
It wouldn’t be until Emilie tested at 23 and Me and Nathan at Ancestry that the answers would be found.
The first thing they found was that they had a donor-conceived sister, “Hailey” whose mother had not been as open as the quadruplets mother, Julie.
Julie was an early adopter of the egg donor program. She met her husband at a stop-light and it was love at first sight. When she found out that she had trouble conceiving, she first went to the University of Utahin April 1993. She was matched with a Donor, and began the treatments needed to carry the children. She was implanted with 5 embryos, because she was told she had a 20% chance of getting pregnant. Both she and her husband were surprised when instead of one baby, or even two, she was told she was having 4 children.
Emilie and Nathan, moreso than their other siblings, were always curious about their donor. Who was this woman who had helped to give them life? Emilie was also having heath issues, and at the time Julie took part in the egg donor program, there wasn’t any medical history for donors – you simply picked a profile that was “most similar” to you. Julie and her children agree that full medical records are needed for donors and that parents and donor conceived persons absolutely have a right to know their health history.
It was through working with DNAngels, and Heidi Billingsley Keuper and Laura Olmested, that Emilie and Nathan found their donor, Dee. Dee was overjoyed to have contact with her donor offspring, she had been hoping that some day, she would hear from either a donor parent or her offspring to find out how they were doing, and she was happy to give updated and accurate medical history.
As it turns out, Dee was the first egg donor, and because a spokesperson for the egg donor program, talking to other potential donors about the program and the process. Over the course of her donations, she donated give times, giving a total of 75 eggs. She knows that of these eggs there are 1 set of quadruplets (the Palmer Children) 2 sets of twins, a set of triplets and an unknown number of single births. So far, she has only heard from the Palmer Quadruplets, and knows that Hailey exists, though they have not been in contact yet.
Dee says it was wonderful for her to be able to give the gift of life for women who had trouble with trying to conceive. Unlike some egg donors, she did not have any side effects from overstimulation of her ovaries to produce the eggs. She and both her sisters donated, however it was Dee that was the most prolific of the three, and the most requested for her eggs.
Dee is now 58 years old, she has two biological children, Sherra and Jacob. Oddly enough, Emilie, as the only girl in the family, didn’t have an imaginary friend growing up, she had an imaginary sister – named Sheryl! Dee has contemplated doing Ancestry to put her DNA out there to make it easier for her donor offspring to find her, although Emilie and Nathan say it took Heidi and Laura only about six hours to find Dee. Emilie reached out and left Dee a voicemail. Dee, who was at work, listened when she got home and the tears of joy flowed as she heard the message left by Emilie.
Dee and Julie have formed a very special friendship. Both feel that it is best to be open and honest with donor-conceived children so that it does not cause problems later on in life. Both are supportive of legislation that allows donor-conceived persons access to updated and accurate medical information.
Dee, Julie, Emilie and Nathan shared some thoughts and words of wisdom for those finding out they are donor conceived. Have an open mind and heart, be understanding, don’t hide the truth, the children weather the information better if they know. And Dee says her journey as an egg donor was amazing and that if she could, she would absolutely do it again.
There is so much love between these four, it was amazing to watch them interact. While only Emilie and Nathan have met Dee, she is hopeful that her other donor offspring will reach out to her some day. She says her heart remembers each donation and that she would welcome any offspring with open arms. She is grateful to have Emilie and Nathan in her life and in her heart. To anyone who takes a DNA test and finds one of the Palmer siblings as a top match, Welcome to the Family.