As more and more children are conceived through artificial insemination, more and more teenagers are beginning to wonder about the possibility of additional family. Back in September 2000, Wendy Kramer and her son Ryan began to seek out information to see if Ryan had any half-siblings.
“It all began when my son was curious if he had any half-siblings and sadly we found there were no organizations to help with the search,” Kramer said. Kramer found that there was no central agency that was built to assist families and individuals find their biological counterparts.
Since then, Kramer has helped over 6,100 half-siblings (and/or donors) connect with each other through the help of the Donor Sibling Registry (DSR), which the Kramer family founded. The worldwide organization, based out of Boulder, Colo., helps families and siblings connect with each other when there is a mutual interest.
Kramer was always open with her son about his birth and she continues to be a huge proponent of a child’s right to know. “At DSR we support a child’s curiosity because while it may not be important to the parent, we really need to honor the child’s need to know,” Kramer said.
Another factor in the disclosure process is understanding that some parents haven’t been open with their children, and Kramer’s son Ryan had that very experience.
He’d found a half-sibling, but the mother of his half-sister hadn’t told her daughter and wasn’t planning on it. It can be a very emotional and trying experience, Kramer says. It’s one of the struggles of having donor siblings.
Other struggles include the non-biological parent feeling left out since there is no biological connection with the child, especially when they are meeting other blood relatives. A local Kansas City couple, Tracy and Emily Lawler-White recently had a baby through donor insemination. The process of finding a donor and becoming pregnant was smooth and easy, they said. The couple, who have been together for 11 years are enjoying life with their first child and are learning about DSR now, so when the times comes to talk with Jonas, their newborn, they are ready.
“Our doctors didn’t talk about a sibling registry,” Tracy said. “But we stumbled across it and now we’re members of the Yahoo group and are just enjoying learning about the process.”
While the couple doesn’t have a need at Jonas’ young age to search out siblings, they are following the stories of similar families, and learning how to build up trust and honesty with a donor-inseminated child at a young age.
Emily came from a large family and didn’t see the need to know about Jonas’ half-siblings, but through the group, she understands why children may want to know about their relatives. “It has helped me to understand what Jonas’ perception might be and what will happen as he gets older,” Emily said.
While there are a lot of concerns parents have when it comes to extending their families, there is something unique and rewarding seeing a child connect with a sibling.
“They share personal experiences, issues they’ve had, their challenges and their joys,” Kramer said. “It was absolutely worth it.”
There are many groups to help a family learn and decide what is best for them. You can connect with the Donor Sibling Registry at http://www.donorsiblingregistry.com.
In addition to the DSR organization, there is a local group in Kansas City, the Midwest Alternative Family Alliance (http://www.kcmafa.org), which is a collection of local gay and lesbian parents and prospective parents that offer a voice, support and a way to connect with each other.
This article appeared recently in Liberty Press.