My Personal Story in Fabulous Magazine (UK)
I was interviewed by a wonderful and empathic journalist regarding my personal story, and the article was released today in the UK's Fabulous magazine. It's difficult to get everything right when someone else is doing the writing, especially when there are also editors that can later make changes before publication. Overall, the story is mostly accurate, albeit abridged to fit the 700 word limit, but I want to address the inaccuracies and a missing part here. I think it was the editors that decided to revert to a prior version of the piece, without the minor corrections I had given the journalist. Regardless, I still think the piece may be helpful to others experiencing a similar situation and feeling alone, which is the reason I did it.
Here it is:
(If this link no longer works, try this saved copy.)
The headline immediately felt wrong to me: ‘THE RESULTS WERE CLEAR’ Entrepreneur opens up about how a ‘DNA test revealed her dad wasn’t her father’ and how she discovered her new family
I wrote the journalist to ask if she could change that to "biological father," since a father can be someone who raises a person, contributes genetic material, or both. This is why we have such a variety of terms as "social father," "biological (or genetic) father," and just plain "father" (when both conditions are true). I never said he wasn't my father because he WAS my father to me all my life (my Daddy), and nothing can erase that or replace him. And his family is still my family. But now I know that I have yet another type of father in addition to the one who raised me, as well as his family... It's not "either or," but "and." For the same reason, the part in the article about discovering my biological father that says "he was my father" should be corrected. But I know they make it sound like a Jerry Springer episode on purpose in order to grab attention. I've requested these changes, and she has asked the editors. Fingers crossed.
UPDATE 2/18/19: They made the requested change to the title, which now reads: THE RESULTS WERE CLEAR’ Entrepreneur opens up about how a ‘DNA test revealed her dad wasn’t her biological father’ and how she discovered her new family. They left alone the part about Peter (pseudonym) being "my father," but that's alright because it's technically true. They were both my father in different ways.
Next, here's the missing part:
They had to cut out mention of my false alarm bio father Jim due to space constraints, but it's a significant part of my story. One month after my initial genetic discovery ("non-paternity event," as it's technically called), I found a man who had listed himself on the Donor Sibling Registry (DSR) under a Washington, DC clinic and thought he was likely my biological father, based on the uncanny resemblance to both my dad and me, the timing, the clinic location, his ethnicity, etc. Even he was in shock over our similar facial features. He was very self-complimentary and grandiose in saying that all his children would have great things to contribute to the world, since he saw himself as a significant historical figure (later, I learned that he had a role in the creation of the Internet). I gave him all the standard reassurances, like the fact that I wasn't after money and didn't want to disrupt his family life.
Unfortunately, he developed cold feet 3 days into our online contact. I had Googled him and found an interesting video about his career on YouTube, and he didn't understand how I had found it. When I wrote him to tell him how impressed I was by this video and that I couldn't wait to learn more, he excused himself from our conversations and left the DSR. I learned from Wendy who runs the DSR that he was spooked because he apparently didn't understand how Google worked and thought I was a hacker; but I'm just your standard Google end user. I was hoping he would also test on 23andme or Ancestry.com to confirm our suspicions with hard DNA evidence, but that never happened. I was devastated and unable to relax and enjoy life after that. Completely consumed by disappointment, I talked to all the wrong people about my predicament and even consulted psychics over whether he might return, even though I don't believe in psychics (at least not most of those being paid for such services). I didn't need him to be a dad to me, since I already had one; I just wanted to understand myself better so that I could complete my perpetually unfinished identity and live my life with the confidence I always craved and needed to succeed (even though, up until this point at age 34, I had no idea I was donor conceived...finally, things made sense).
Nearly a year later, Jim died of pancreatic cancer - a diagnosis which I learned about because he had published an online press release regarding being diagnosed with a form of terminal cancer. Two weeks before he died, he wrote me indirectly through Wendy at the DSR to say he was sorry for hurting me and proud of my accomplishments, and that I could visit his future grave at the location listed in the email. I cried my eyes out because I was never going to meet him and fill in my missing pieces. His helpful nephew, whom I found on Facebook only days before Jim's death, confirmed for me that Jim was an extremely paranoid person who constantly believed the world was after him and judging him for being gay. This explained his strange behavior.
Eventually, this nephew tested on 23andme, and it showed we weren't related! I had to accept that either I had the wrong guy, or the nephew somehow wasn't related to him. I thought maybe there was some hope that the real one was out there and alive. The nephew stopped responding to my messages but stuck around as my Facebook friend. He's still there, along with some cousins of his. It was 2 years later that I randomly logged onto Ancestry.com and saw my actual biological father in the relatives results, which had me almost falling off my chair. He was indeed alive! His daughters had gifted him with a kit for Father's Day (ironically), and the rest is history. Getting to know him has been a wonderful experience, and he's an incredibly kind person. I'll be grateful for his warm reception for the rest of my life.
Immediately upon spending time with him for the first time, I felt a shift at my core. That part of me that always felt missing was put into its proper place. In the past, when people were at odds with me in any way, my very sense of self felt threatened, as I was easily thrown off balance. I thought I'd always be that way, no matter how much therapy or self-development work. Now, my sense of self is tethered into place, allowing me to stand firmly when challenged or mistreated. I'm unafraid to be fully assertive (in a balanced and controlled manner), and even my career-related confidence has improved. Putting myself out there isn't so scary any more. Not only was that change instantaneous, but it's also been enduring.
Other corrections for the article that likely won't be implemented:
My spouse Kevin is both an IT professional and robotics engineer (only the latter is listed). And I've been more of a professional coach than entrepreneur, but the latter will overtake the former in time.
I had already been a certified professional coach working in various areas since 2010 - four years before my shocking DNA discovery. I didn't specialize in DC issues until much later - immediately after finding my biological father in July 2017. The article made it sound like I was training to become a coach for the first time just after donating my eggs.
I'm not British, so I don't say "mum."
I've switched to saying "my biological father" rather than "my donor" because it's technically accurate to use the former term. Up until my conception, he was my parents' donor; then he became my biological father. It's a fact of life that can't be minimized.
It's irrelevant that my dad didn't personally tell me how he found out I was searching for "my donor" because someone else that was present at that conversation told me right away. A lot happened thereafter, but I didn't include the details out of respect for my family.
Dates were approximate and may be off, though the ones for my egg donation and discovering my biological father are accurate.
I would have preferred the article also mentioning how welcoming by bio father's wife was when I visited them for the first time and even asked for that to be included. Oh well.
The article says I helped a woman have a baby by donating my eggs. Well, it was a married couple. Don't want to leave the father out of the story! I don't agree with the use of both an egg donor and sperm donor, nor embryo donation. This isn't about being against single motherhood or gay parenting, since my view also applies to hetero couples. It's about what's right for the kids in terms of close connection to at least one biological parent.
It says I still get regular updates about my biological daughter. This sounds too distant. I actually visit her! I told the journalist this point was important, but it didn't make it into the article.
Regarding my 4 half-sisters: At the time of writing, I've been in contact with 3, one of whom I have met in person. The wording in the article made it sound like I've been in contact with 3 and met the fourth, but there has been no contact with the youngest at this point. I'll leave that up to her.