AncestryDNA, 23andME, and Facebook.

When I ordered my AncestryDNA test I originally just had one query: what part of the world am I from? I knew my mom’s side was British AF. But since I was the product of a sperm donor, my paternal side was still an unknown. I figured it was from some European country or something like that but I wanted to know more. After I ordered the test I called my older sister and let her know what I had done and why because I thought she’s like to know. Coincidentally, she had the same idea and ordered the same test through AncestryDNA two days prior without telling me. My first reaction was “what the fuck, when were you gonna tell me?” and “don’t you think I would like to know stuff like that since we share the same DNA?”. Her response was simply “oh, sorry”. Jackass.  

When my sisters results got back she discovered she was only 61% Great Britain, 16% Scandinavia, 11% Europe West, 8% Ireland and 3% other. I was naturally excited to see how diverse as caucasian people we could be and wondered if my results would be any different. Once I downloaded the AncestryDNA app and the results showed up I was excited and curious as I’ve ever been. The first thing to show up was my Genetic Ancestry and major ethnicity regions I come from. Of course Great Britain showed up as 70%, but I was surprised to see Europe West at 15% and even Ireland at 7%. Dude, I am super white. Scandinavia only showed up at 2% whereas hers came in at 16%. What the hell? Than it clicked in me. We might have different sperm donors when all this time I thought we had the same. That was the first shock.

Then I saw Matches.  I touched it and it displayed all the people who have taken this test who I might share the same genetic information with. The first person in Close Family –  1st cousins was obviously my older sister; but then I scrolled down and saw three more people in the same range as my sister and the only thing I could think of was “what the fuck? How?”. Ohhhhhhhh. Sperm donor was busy. Right under my sister was Erik Johnson, Danny Johnson (no relation), and some weird email-looking username that also happened to be a girl.

Do I have half-brothers and sisters out there? I scrolled even further down to 2nd cousins and saw two of my moms first cousins on there. That makes sense. But who are these three people who could be my siblings? Since Danny was the only one who had a picture and a full name I decided to search her out first. Where else but Facebook. After a few days of searching for her name and variations of it I finally came across her profile with the same picture she used on the App. It was her. Excited, I showed my wife and we went over her pictures and everything about her. My wife thought we definitely shared some resemblances in our face and hair. I read a little of what she does and was directed to another website. It seems that she is some kind of super fit, life coach, guru that’s always happy. At least that was my first impression. I was actually impressed. I think everyone could use of those at some point in their lives. So I wrote to her on both the App and on Facebook basically saying “Hi, I think we are somehow related. You came up as a close relative with extremely high confidence. would you like to discuss?”

About two weeks later she finally responded simply with “Yes!” I immediately wrote back telling her my back story of my parents going to a fertility clinic in the Bay Area in the late 70’s and wondered if her father or uncles donated sperm. She said yes, her “father” was a sperm donor too who also donated in the Bay Area and she just found him a few months ago. Holy shit. She found him? She told me his name, how long he had donated for (14 fucking years he donated), from 1978-1992 and from five clinics. My mind was slowly blowing up like a balloon with all this new info. She also said she found two other half-sister on 23andme and so did he to confirm he’s our “sperm dad”. I was blown away at how nice and cool she was and willing to share all this personal information with me. She recommended I do 23andme as well and that we should have a reunion. I laughed to myself and thought “she must be from California”. Then she told me she spoke to him and he’s super cool. She messaged me his Facebook profile on FB messenger and said that he’s excited to meet his “progeny”. I came to the realization that I was part of something much bigger than my little family and that there could be hundreds of us out there. I clicked on his profile and there he was. I grabbed my wife to tell me what she sees and her only response was “Holy fuck, you two look-alike. He’s an older, grayer version of you”. Mind. Blown.

At this point, there was myself, Danny, and my potential brother, Erik, whom I hadn’t written to yet, weird email user-name girl, three other half sisters on 23andme, and our donor’s two grown sons from his first marriage. My mind was reeling. I have a whole other genetically related half family out there with so many answers. I told her a little more about myself and where I am currently living (at a naval base in southern Maryland). She responded with “OMGGGG, he lives in northern Maryland, just north of D.C.” I mapped out his city and it was only an hour and a half away. All those question marks that once filled my very being and my conscience were quickly being deleted and filled with answers.

She told me a little more about him. Where he was from, what he did, how he came about being a sperm donor, how much he was paid for each sample, and a lot of other personal particulars about his health, family, and hobbies. One thing that stood out to me was his desire for travel. He had travelled all over Europe and across the U.S. before settling down north of D.C. My mother knew at an early age that I had this explorer-traveler-discoverer side to me that my sister did not and it was she who encourage me to join the Navy. I finally got up the courage to write to him on FB; giving him all my details, including my phone number. You can tell I was eager for this. No more wondering who I was, where all the parts of me came from, or how to fill out those family health questions at the doctor’s office. Barely a day later he called me. We talked for about an hour. I told him about myself and my family and he told me about his. Had a lot of questions I had about myself answered and felt a hole I had inside slowly fill with all this new information. A few weeks later, and the end of July 2017, Danny arranged to have our first reunion in New York City, since she was going to be in the area and one of our sisters from 23andMe lived there, too. Lindsay agreed to fly out and Bruce and I drove up separately from Maryland. We all met up for brunch at a restaurant near Greenwich Village. It was me, Danny, Lindsay, Bruce and his wife, and Lindsey, our sister from 23andMe who lives in NY. She is still very private about this and doesn’t want to be public.

We had a great time talking about ourselves and how we all found out. Took pictures, shared stories, and agreed to stay in touch.

A few months later, fall of 17, Danny and Lindsay said they found a brother (Steve) and another sister on 23andMe who both live in San Francisco. After they both reached out to them it became clear that their parents never told them the truth and they had to find out they were donor conceived through a test and had to confront their parents about it. Then, another sister popped up a few weeks later in Oakland.

As the months went by, we got a few more to the present. Currently, we have five brothers, including myself, and eight sisters.

 We all stay in contact through a Facebook group page called Bruce’s Progeny and all of us siblings are on a WhatsApp group chat so we can all communicate in real time.


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