February 21, 2024

200 siblings and counting. And all very sick. 

How would it feel to discover that your father is a sperm donor, that you have at least 200 half-siblings, and that all of them have serious health problems? A profile in USA Today of a 24-year-old woman named Jaclyn Frosolone, the daughter of lesbian mothers, is stomach-churning.

Ms Frosolone has “a brain-fluid filled cyst in her spine that causes full-body tremors and threatens paralysis; anxiety; depression; supraventricular tachycardia; ADHD; and severe vaginal pain and dermatitis, among other problems.” When she contacted some of her half-siblings through 23andMe, the genetic testing kit, she found that most of the others shared her medical problems.

None of these issues are mentioned on her sperm donor father’s health profile. In fact, his sperm is still available for sale, although it has been “restricted”. “Nobody prepares you to have a life like this,” said another young woman, Jamie LaRose. We really are so sick and it sucks.”

Jana Rupnow, a Dallas psychotherapist, calls the disorientation after discovering one’s heritage “genealogical bewilderment.”

“It’s hard enough when you have an unknown medical history, but an inaccurate one adds layers of mental health struggles,” Rupnow said. “Our health is a part of our identity. You have to unravel the shock of finding out your family history is different than you thought, all while dealing with anxiety over the unknown.”

The half-siblings have created a Facebook group to share their concerns. They managed to track down the half-brother of the donor. He also has health issues but he said that neither he nor his brother knows who their own father is.

Ms LaRose says that she is afraid of inadvertent incest. “I’m 23 and the last guy I was with was 40 years old because I literally look at people my age and I’m grossed out.”