It’s Never Too Late To Start A Family!
When Charles made his donation in 1968, there were no tracking systems, and anonymity was promised. As a medical resident, his inspiration for donating was that he could be part of an exciting new technology, and perhaps help someone create a family.
Veronica had no idea she was donor conceived. Growing up with her Mom, Dad and younger sister, she considered her family to be “normal.” Her parents, respecting their vow of secrecy about the donation, planned to leave a letter of explanation for their daughters to find once they died.
From time to time, Charles wondered if his donation was ever used. But of course there would be no way of ever knowing. All paper records had been destroyed. Few people considered that 5 decades later, DNA testing would exist, let alone be mainstream.
After not telling a soul for 52 years, Veronica’s parents decided to reveal their secret. Upon learning the news, Veronica was shocked. She was awed by all her parents had done for her – especially her father, who was her biggest ally and a committed family man.
But she also felt bereft and forlorn, knowing half her genetic traits were a total mystery. She wanted more than anything to be related to her father. She looked in the mirror, and her familiar face washed away as she cried. Her features were no longer the combination of parents she knew – but whose features were they?
Her parents had used a different donor for her younger sister because the first donor was no longer available, so her shock was compounded by finding out the sister she’d lived with her entire life was actually her half-sister.
Feeling like a ghost, Veronica gazed, bewildered, at the blank side of her family tree. She figured the donor would be dead. So many things she thought to be true – her ethnicity, her history, her paternal relatives – were unknown.
Curious, Veronica enlisted the help of DNAngels, assuming the wait time would be years. She had only one clue, a family name of a very distant cousin.
To Veronica’s complete amazement, DNAngels Laura and Heidi worked their magic, and found her donor in about 30 minutes!
Charles was alive. He and Veronica lived in the same state, 3000 miles across the country from where the 1968 donation had taken place! DNAngels encouraged Veronica to call him right away, but she hesitated…
What if he thought she wanted money…or thought she was a fraud?
What if he had his own family, and wanted nothing to do with her? What if he was upset his confidentiality had been breached? What if he denied paternity? What if he thought she wanted money? What if he did not remember donating, or thought she was a fraud?
She did not want to intrude or worse, be rejected. So close to her truth; it was hard to come this far and then let it all go.
With DNAngels cheering her on, she placed a call to Charles and left a voicemail. Then she reached his wife, Leila, at work. Leila was kind and encouraging, even though Veronica did not say exactly why she was calling.
When Charles called back, Veronica was overcome with excitement and apprehension. “I’m so…I don’t know what to say. I can’t believe you’re here…I am so very grateful to find you alive.”
“I’m grateful to be alive too,” Charles said, easing the moment. They both laughed, together.
Veronica was flooded with joy. Finally knowing gave her a feeling of peace and serenity. But what was next? She was aware that contact was one thing; a relationship was something else entirely.
Charles wanted to know how Veronica found him, and wondered how her parents felt about the revelation. He also congratulated her on having the courage to reach out to him.
Veronica told him about the DNAngels, and her disbelief that he would ever be traced. She wanted to know everything she could about Charles’s life, and had so many questions. They have since visited in person, and celebrated their 53rd and 82nd birthdays together, which coincidentally were two days apart. She learned Charles had twin sons – so she had two half-brothers!
The relief Veronica felt was immense – her mannerisms, blue eyes, athleticism, relentless pursuit of knowledge, musical ability, love of adventure travel, visits to horse ranches, quirks that didn’t make sense, and so much more – all fell into place when she met Charles and her brothers.
Persistence and courage are evidently personality traits Charles had passed on…because the daughter he did not know existed was tenacious enough to find him after over 50 years.
“It’s just like home, and feels so easy,” Veronica says. “I can look in the mirror now, and know where I come from. These are my people, and we found each other.”
Even when you don’t grow up together, family ties can be binding. Veronica felt an immediate sense of belonging. She sees so much of herself in Charles, and keeps finding similarities, like meticulousness, and a love of saunas. So much about him is familiar, even though he didn’t raise her.
“There’s always enough love to go around.”
“I love learning the details about Charles and his life, and he has been so generous in sharing with me. Plus, my new brothers are so awesome,” Veronica says. “We try not to dwell on the ‘lost’ years, because we have now, and our future, together.”
Charles agrees, “This is the most fun I’ve had in years. Getting to know Veronica has been an unexpected delight. Becoming a new parent of a 53-year-old is pretty amazing.”
Veronica and Charles have agreed to call each other “DNA Dad” and “DNA Daughter.”
Veronica’s parents are also incredulous. Never in their wildest dreams did they imagine their firstborn daughter’s donor would not only be identified, but also be so kind and welcoming. “I was the gardener,” says Veronica’s father who raised her. “My role was to cultivate the seeds so they could grow and blossom.”
Now Veronica has not one, but two families. The happiness is everlasting.
Charles’s wife Leila sums up the new family situation best, “There’s always enough love to go around.”