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Separated before birth



By Nicole Freeman

The Internet has long been used to track down missing persons, whether they are fugitives from the law, runaway kids, or families separated by natural disasters like earthquakes or floods. And there have been numerous stories of siblings separated at birth re-uniting through Facebook or other social networks.

Perhaps it was inevitable, then, that we would eventually hear of siblings separated before birth using the Internet to track each other down.

The Donor Sibling Registry is dedicated to “educating, connecting and supporting donor families”. Created in 2000 by Wendy Kramer and her son Ryan, the web site has helped “connect” more than 7,500 half-siblings and/or donors and is currently attracting more than 10,000 unique visitors per month.

There are an estimated 30,000 to 60,000 children born each year through donor sperm and many of them become increasingly curious about their origins. Sometimes armed with nothing more than the name of a sperm bank and a computer, many have been successful in tracing their genetic roots and discovering half-brothers and sisters.

A CNN article published this week features several sets of sperm donor “twins” who have re-united in  person. Many have formed close relationships, finding that they have much in common, including in many cases a strikingly similar physical appearance.

The Donor Sibling Registry acknowledges the potential problems with someone suddenly unearthing another “family” and stresses that they exist to facilitate “mutually desired contact”.

Still, it’s possible that curious offspring may get more than they bargained for. In the CNN article, Kramer reports that she has seen as many as 50 people traced back to one single donor! 



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