Saturday, April 28, 2018

Tips for Keeping Your Sperm Donations Secret


Step 1:  STOP DOING IT!  FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, YOU'RE GOING TO GET CAUGHT!

A few months ago I crossed paths on Facebook with one of the many, many men who advertise online to donate their sperm to strangers.  He said he was married and had a daughter.  He said his wife knew he donates sperm and is okay with it but wants him to keep it discreet.  He used a very common fake name, as well as photographs of other people instead of his own.  He used a fake birthday, fake age, and fake place of employment.  He seemed to use his sperm donor user names exclusively on sperm donor websites.  This guy knew what he was doing.

He posted on a lot of sperm donor websites though, and little bits of information started to come out.  For one thing, he uses photos of himself with his daughter on some of the sites.  There are several photos – too many of them both to be stock photos -- and it seems like the people who had actually met him for sperm might say something if they weren’t him.  Reverse Google image search unfortunately yielded nothing. 

On another site he listed an actual small town name for his location instead of the local metropolitan area like he had on all the others.  Someone who had availed him of his services for “natural insemination” (sexual intercourse) gave him a glowing online review that called him by a different and presumably real first name.  Other ladies told him happy birthday on Facebook when his account said it was still months away. 

That’s still not a lot of information for a person to go on.  But apparently it’s enough for Google.  I had been entering everything I knew about him – first name, date of birth, town, user names – and it finally yielded the MyLife listing for someone with his first name, date of birth, and small town.  Maybe he used his sperm donor user names or email alongside his actual name too; I’m not sure.  I looked up the full name MyLife listed and suddenly I was looking at the man from the photos with his daughter.  Suddenly I was looking at his wedding announcement, his wife’s Facebook page, his Pinterest, his LinkedIn, his father’s YouTube page.  He had deleted most of his social media accounts that weren’t about donating sperm under fake names, but it didn’t matter.

I wonder if his wife really knows about his donations.  And if so, I wonder how she feels about it.  I wonder if his 5-year-old daughter knows about her half-siblings yet.  She already has seven according to the sperm donor profile with her sweet little girl face all over it. 

Foreclosure

After my dad's Dish Network password stopped working, I looked up my childhood home to see if the bank has foreclosed on it yet.  I suspected if Dante hadn't stopped paying for Dish service last year after Dad died, he probably wouldn't stop paying for it until he completely ran out of money or the bank took the house.  

A quick Google search of the address indicated the county was auctioning off the house earlier this month.  The bank had foreclosed on the house last month.  After the auction, ownership of the house reverted back to the bank, and it appears Dante might still be living there.  Which means Dante will probably remain there until someone forces him to leave and locks the place down.

Part of me thinks of the childhood things I left behind in that house and feels weird about someone else going through them when they buy the house as is.  But then I remember that Dante started going through and throwing all my things away when he moved back home over a decade ago after our parents divorced and Mom got evicted.  My clothes, books, toys, awards, and mementos.  Dad said I'd better take some time off work and travel the thousand miles to collect my shit if I wanted any of it because Dante was "cleaning out the house."  Hoard photos he sent me later indicate that was a lie, but I don't doubt my things were discarded.  His girlfriend's son moved into my old room.  I wonder what it looks like now.

I wonder what happened to all the family photos.  That was what I asked Dad to have Dante set aside for me when he found them.  I wonder if he threw them away or just never got that far in his "cleaning."

Dante has lived in an apartment on his own before, or at least with a roommate, sometime in his late twenties I think.  It's been at least a decade since he's had to move or pay rent.  I'm not sure if he has a job or how much of Dad's $10k life insurance policy that I transferred to him remains (my guesses are "no" and "very little" respectively).  I hope he's doing okay.  But I also don't really care.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Stop Posting Secrets You Wish to Keep


If you aren’t telling your donor conceived child they are donor conceived, please consider not telling strangers on the internet either.  If you post – even in a private Facebook group -- are you posting under your own name?  If so, everyone in there knows who you are.  Anyone can look up who your children are and where you live and where you work and where your kids go to school.  A woman just posted in a private 5000 person (!) Facebook group a photo of her donor conceived son side by side with his half-sibling and stated that he is currently unaware the other boy is his brother.  He doesn't even know that he is donor conceived.  She plans to tell him but doesn’t know when.  I'm not sure what backstory she gave him for who his brother was and why they traveled 3000 miles to meet him.

A quick Google search later and I know her son’s full name, date of birth, home address, where he goes to school, and what grade he is in.  He's a minor with no social media accounts.  

Now, I’m not going to do anything with this information.  The only thing I would gain by contacting family members (whose contact information is all too easy to find) would be the ability to brag about how good I am at looking things up on the internet, which is clearly what I'm already doing here.  But PLEASE reconsider posting online about secrets you wish to keep.  I'm not the only person on the internet.  

Let’s say you’ve learned your lesson and have started posting under a pseudonym.  Did you keep the same Facebook account and just change how the name appears?  Are you posting under an alias or username you have used on other sites?  Is your account linked to an email address that is in your name?  Or to an email address that you’ve used on another account that is linked to your name?  If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then everything you post is being linked back to your name.  And not in a fancy only-NSA-and-Zuckerberg-will-know-who-I-am way but in a randos-can-look-me-up-on-pipl way.  The woman I mentioned above uses the same username for Facebook, Pinterest, TripAdvisor and travel forums, her defunct blog and Twitter accounts, and – drum roll please -- multiple donor/sibling websites.  

If her son ever does a Google search on his mother, the fact that he is donor conceived will be one of the first things he learns.  He is already nearly 13.



I’m really not sure what my goal is in writing this post.  I don’t actually want parents to get better at keeping secrets from their children.  I want them to realize that they CAN’T keep secrets from their children.  They suck at it.  Even if they don’t post about it online, they probably confided in someone.  Even in they didn’t, they might announce it themselves in a fit of something.  Or it’ll come out with a DNA test.  Please tell your kids who their biological parents are.  They’ll find out regardless, and it’s in their best interest for it to come from someone who has their best interests at heart.  And it's in your best interest for them to continue thinking they can trust you.  

Friday, April 20, 2018

My Dad's Dish Network password finally stopped working

Nine months after my dad died, his Dish Network password has officially stopped working.  It allowed me to stream literally every show I've ever tried to watch that wasn't already on Netflix or Amazon Prime, including HBO.  That login was my inheritance, and while I knew it was only temporary, I am grateful he let me use it both in life and in death.  I gave it to everyone who asked, and it touched the lives of at least three families who mostly just wanted to watch Game of Thrones.  It will be missed.

I'm wondering what Dante is using for entertainment now.  My dad's Comcast password isn't working anymore either (yes, he had both at one point, my parents made bad choices).  I'm also wondering if Dante still lives at the house.  I haven't checked real estate listings and foreclosures lately.

[UPDATE] Cousin Planning the Family Reunion Reaches Out

I responded, and she responded, and then I responded, and she responded again, and SHE'S NICE.

So far Pam Von Trapp has offered to tell me family stories and talk to my paternal uncles for me since I mentioned not having had the guts to reach out to them.  I'm very happy with how this has gone so far. 

Thanks go to my BFF Jerry for helping me draft my initial response. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Cousin Planning the Family Reunion Reaches Out

Two close relations from the Von Trapp family (my sperm donor biological father's family) recently joined AncestryDNA.  I recognized them from my half-brother Hans' Facebook.  One of them is the woman planning the big family reunion that I'm slightly desperate to be personally invited to, even though no one is being personally invited because EVERY VON TRAPP IS INVITED and I would also probably be too chicken to go.  I can't imagine I'd enjoy it.  I just want the story.  I also like the idea of laying claim to my biological father's unwanted extended family.

Anyway, the cousin planning the reunion sent me the following message on Ancestry tonight:

Hello! Youre one of my cousins, but Im not exactly sure which one!


Hello! I know you're one of my Uncle Jack's granddaughters, but I don't know if you're Joseph's daughter or Andy's daughter... I hope this isn't an intrusion, but I'd love to know who you are! Thanks so much.

Pam Von Trapp (daughter of Bob, Jack's younger brother)


I had been dreaming of such an opportunity.  Two of my three paternal uncles are already on AncestryDNA, and neither has ever reached out to me because they went to Joseph instead, which was reasonable but leaves me wondering if they avoid messaging me now out of respect for my privacy or because they want nothing to do with me.  I want to be in touch, but how would they respond?  I am too afraid to ask.

Pam is my first DNA match who knows Joseph and isn't in the loop on who I am.  How do I respond so that I neither cast myself as an immediate, permanent outsider nor offend her by assuming too much?  Is admitting I'm his daughter offensive?  He donated sperm anonymously! That doesn't make you his DAUGHTER!  People have strong feelings about the semantics of sperm donation and family.

I think I have to acknowledge that I'm donor conceived.  I can't tell if she's hinting she knows I'm someone new.  So much of the family doesn't communicate that she might not even know my half-sister Simone's name.  She might think I'm her.  I also want to make my introduction as little about Joseph as possible, though that makes it harder to word than "Joseph donated sperm while at medical school."  I want her to know that my half-siblings acknowledge me so she knows she wouldn't have to be some sort of trailblazer to speak to me too.  Joseph is the only person I've reached out to who has flat out rejected me, but I'm afraid it'll happen again.  I don't like being different.  I just want to be accepted.  This sounds really whiny, but it is what it is. 

tl;dr: I worry too much about things that don't really matter.  And I crave the love and acceptance of people I may or may not like were I to actually meet them.