My parents chose to tell my sister and I at the same time about my conception. My sister was conceived naturally and my parents turned to a donor to have me after some complications with my dad. They tried a few years earlier with no luck and then in 1982 were pregnant with me.
I will never forget the day that mum and dad told us. I remember we had just had a roast Sunday lunch. I was 15. I was wearing my Alanis Morrisette t-shirt, the one from her first tour. My sister had taken me and it was so much fun and inspirational to me as a singer. My sister is 7 and a half years older than me and we are as close as sisters can be.
Mum and dad said they had something to tell us. They had never ever said anything like this before or with that look on their face. They told us to sit down as we were clearing the table and I knew it had something to do with me and my place in the family.
They started by saying that they loved us both very much, I swear the room started spinning as they said that they had trouble trying to have me and so went to a doctor for IVF treatment. They used a donor, they said. My initial reaction was to laugh. I laughed and my sister cried. I didn't understand why she was crying, I thought it was "cool". Now I could say I was a "test tube baby". I remember saying "Oh, it's like that movie with Whoopi Goldberg... how cool!".
My parents must have been happy that I didn't start crying or seem too upset. Dad kept saying that he still loved me and that he was still my dad. I said of course and that it didn't matter. I said nothing had changed and that everything was ok. I hugged my sister and told her to stop being silly, afterall we were still sisters and I loved her more than anything.
After a little bit we continued about our Sunday rituals. Dad went back to the garage, mum went back to washing the clothes and my sister and I cleaned up the lunch time mess.
I can't remember much of the rest of that day, until later that night. I was in the bathroom looking into the mirror and I realised that I was not related to half of my family... my dad's side whom I had spent a lot of time growing up with. I still loved them but I thought "if they aren't my paternal family, then who is??? Where are they?" Immediately I realised it was not just about this man but in fact about half of my family history. I saw a black space fill in half of my mind.. that's the best way I can describe it and that is how I still see it today.
I cried for my loss the first time that night, but I didn't tell anyone I was upset, afterall, as mum and dad had said they went to a lot of trouble to have me.
I told my best friend at school the next day. She was almost as shocked as I was and kept repeating "So he's not your real dad...!?"
I asked mum if we could send a letter to the doctor that helped with the treatment (my conception) to see if I could know anything about my "donor". (I didn't dare call him my biological father when I was living at home). Dad thought I was trying to replace him and was pretty jealous for a while. It took a long time for him to kind of understand why I wanted to know. I still don't think he truly understands.
Mum and dad told me the news a few weeks before Father's Day. I didn't really think of it at the time, but as the weeks neared Father's Day I began to feel worse and worse. Our family celebrates all of those days and so this year it was also celebrated. I remember feeling sad on the day, thinking about my "donor", whether he was celebrating it with his own kids and family. I wrote in dad's card something like "I still love you and you're still my read dad" and I think I wrote that for the next few years to ease dad's mind, especially on that day of all days.
Just after Father's Day I received a letter back from the doctor saying:
"Thank you for your letter. I have identified who the donor was involved with your conception back in 1981. There were three people with a similar name in the telephone book and I have written them each a private and confidential letter asking them to contact me. I will keep you updated if there are any developments.
In the meantime I thought you would like to have the non-identifying information that we had on file.
As the donor who donated for you was recruited a long time ago, we don't have a great deal of information but here goes.
He was a student at the time of donating and was 5 foot 7 inches tall. He had dark brown hair, brown eyes and weighed 10 stone 3 pounds. He was married, had not family history of any disease and his blood group was 0 positive. Unfortunately we don't have any further biological data on him, but at least this will give you a little bit of a picture."
I wrote down the information on a little piece of notebook paper right away. I still to this day carry it in my wallet as a momento of who this man is, even though he might be a lot different now. He might not even be alive, in reality, I know this and some people think it's something they should point out to me (as though I haven't thought of all the possiblities, including that he was abducted by aliens!), but I never give up hope. It's all I have to keep me on this journey.