An unconventional family reunion took place in Niagara Falls this week where eight “diblings” – donor-conceived siblings – and their mothers met up to begin what the families hope will be a lifelong friendship.
Single mom Kenyea Jones, 44, is one of the mothers who attended the joyful gathering.
“I’ve always wanted to be a mom,” said Jones. “I knew it was going to happen, but it didn’t matter to me if it was through adoption or if I gave birth to a child.”
Jones chose to use a sperm donor and in vitro fertilization, which led to the birth of her son, Presley, now 20 months old.
“People think it’s brave,” she added. “I don’t think of it as me being brave, I just think of it as me wanting to have a child, and that’s the process I decided to go through to have a child.”
The sperm bank Jones used allows its clients to connect with other families who have children from the same sperm donor through a closed website. Thanks to this opportunity, Jones was able to find five other mothers online.
After sharing photos and stories about their seven children, the women decided to get the kids together for a weekend in Niagara Falls.
“We are going for a diblings reunion,” Jones told local media. “I want to make sure that [Presley] knows where he came from, the process, and the siblings that he has and so they can all become lifelong friends.”
Holly Brown and her partner Annette Jaszko also attended the meet-up, explaining they wanted their son, two-year old Griffin, to meet as many of his 17 diblings as possible.
“I said, ‘Can you tell me how many other live births were from this donor?’,” Brown recalled. “It was kind of curious, I was scared to get the answer because, again, this is not part of how I imagined this was going to be, that there would be other live people, real people that we would be connecting with. And she said ‘There are 17 other births.’ Eighteen, you know, Griffin makes 18. And I was at work and I almost dropped the phone. I couldn’t believe it.”
Other moms were less enthusiastic about the idea of meeting at first. Nathalie Vallee and her partner Jennifer Havens have two children from the same donor, Emmett, 2, and Maggie, 5 months old.
“It was so new – you knew there [are] other kids out there that have the same donor,” Vallee said. “But you kind of just want to not think about it. But then we kind of warmed up to the idea when we saw the pictures of the kids and the conversations, and it just kind of came about.”
One thing the moms all have in common is a desire to find similarities among the diblings. Even before meeting, they discovered all of the children were very social.
“We just talk about their personalities, watching them grow and develop and just trying to see if they have the same eyes, the same nose, the same type of personality, and just getting to learn more about them,” Jones said. “So far, I’ve seen the hair color, the eyes. It’s funny because they’re all at that age they have a little ‘no no no’ stage, a little tantrum stage, and they all sound the same. I was like, ‘Oh, Presley does that, so I’m glad to see I’m not the only one.’ ”
“I thought it was cool just to see that they really looked alike,” Vallee added. “For me it was just nice to see their faces. To see, OK, that’s true, that’s- what feature of Emmett is actually from the donor.”
Even grandmas are getting on-board with the dibling reunion. Presley’s grandmother, Dorothy Jones, hopes the diblings will establish close relationships, despite living in different parts of the country.
“When I see him playing with those other kids and he’s running and jumping, it’s like they’re all friends,” she said. “They’re going to be all friends and hopefully as they grow, we can see them grow and they can communicate with each other.”
Are these children’s father’s identity open or closed? Are you aware of the ‘donor’ conceived efforts to speak out for their human dignity rights to know their genetic identity?
While it’s great that these kids are meeting one another it’s an injustice that they are not legal kin and an injustice that they were abandoned by their father. It’s an injustice that their paternal family is denied knowledge of their existence as well, denied legal kinship and none of them are allowed copies of one another’s vital records. Some of those kids were also abandoned by their mothers if you look at the age of some of those women they are old enough to be grandmothers over 40 so the kids were abandoned by not one but two of their biological parents in order to make paying customers fulfill their dreams of raising someone else’s kids without having to adopt or write the truth down.
I believe all of the families that attended this event are the biological parents of the children they have conceived through the same donor samples. The children weren’t abandoned by their father. They were conceived through a sperm sample that a male had donated. They are biological children only through one side – the sperm donor, who doesn’t have any parental rights over the children since they were born via in vitro fertilization.
“I believe all of the families that attended this event are the biological parents of the children they have conceived through the same donor samples. ” I agree that people are the parents of their own offspring and of course any women in attendance who have offspring are the mothers of their own offspring. I was talking about the woman who is 44 who gave birth at 43 where she said IVF was involved and its very rare for a woman to get pregnant with her own child at that age.
Lisa being a donor of sperm prior to the birth of his children does not keep him from being their father when they are born! Open any dictionary and look up the definition of parent and the primary definition is someone or something with offspring and of course a man with 17 children qualifies as their father according to the rules of the English language and according to the rules of medical science. We refer to them as donors at the time they donate sure because he has not conceived any children with the donated sperm yet. He agrees not to raise his kids when they are born. It’s not enforceable in court, but those are his intentions and so when his kids are born and he follows through with his intentions he abandons them. Agreeing in advance of their birth to be absent from their lives if and when they are born is not abandonment in and of itself which is the loophole in the law. It’s when they are born that he makes good on his promise to be absent that the abandonment occurs.
If he were really just abandoning his sperm and not his kids would these women have wanted his sperm? If we said you can have the sperm but you can’t have his kids, he’s not abandoning them when they are born how popular would his sperm have been?
This man has 17 children and he is not taking care of any of them. That is abandonment. Certainly if he’s raising any more of his kids that would extra highlight the abandonment.