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ELECTION 2022

16 half-siblings from the same sperm donor search for their biological father

LIFESTYLE
By Daily Mail | Nov 23rd 2013 | 5 min read

-Adapted from Daily Mail

A new TV documentaries is giving new meaning to 'modern family' as it follows 16 half-siblings on a mission to find their anonymous sperm donor dad.

Generation Cryo, which premieres on MTV on November 25, stars 17-year-old Breeanna Speicher, from Reno, Nevada, who was brought up by two lesbian mothers and has always been curious to know who her father is.

With the help of an organization called the Donor Sibling Registry, Bree discovered that she has 15 half-siblings across the country, whom she enlists to help her find their donor father, known to them only as 'Donor number 1096'.

While Bree locates 15 half-siblings, it seems only eight of them help her on her journey to discover their father, the reason for which is not made clear.

Each of the nine stars of the show - who range in age from 17 to 20 - have their own views on what it means to potentially discover who their biological father is.

For Bree, the question of her background is one that has always plagued her.

'I have always just been kind of curious,' she says in a trailer. 'Like, what is he like? Am I like this because of my mom or am I this way because of this man that I don't know?'

But some of her half-brothers and sisters are concerned that the search will merely open up a can of worms that might be better left shut.

One of the siblings, who doesn't appear to be a star of the show, says in the trailer: 'I don't think it's in any way our right. . . to contact him.'

And 20-year-old Paige, who was brought up in Boston with her twin Molly and brother Will, says she worries that getting in touch with their donor will disrupt the strong relationship they have with the father who has raised them.

'For a long time I didn't want to search for any information because I was happy with my family situation,' she says in an appearance on the Today show this morning.

'I had a dad I loved so much, I didn't want him to feel like I was betraying him at all'.

Ultimately, though, the three decide to join in the quest, if only to help Bree find meaning in her life.

In the trailer, all the siblings are seen poring through yearbooks, submitting DNA tests and employing other means to discover who their donor is.

Jonah and Hilit, 17-year-old twins who were raised outside Atlanta, are also hesitant at first to embark on a mission to meet their biological father.

A description of the twins on MTV.com reads: 'To them, the male head of their household suffices, and then some.'

Even so, merely learning that they have so many siblings they had never known before has made a huge difference in their lives.

'I feel like family,' Jonah tells Today, turning to his half-brothers and sisters, who all nod in agreement. 'Definitely.'

The trailer for the show sees Jonah swiping the inside of his mouth with a Q-tip to provide a DNA sample, since Bree needs a sample from a male sibling.

It has not yet been revealed whether or not they do indeed locate the donor, but the show and the journey it entails has been a point of contention not only for the kids, but for the parents who raised them.

In the trailer, Eric Jacobson - the non-biological father of Jonah and Hilit - has a tough time coming to terms with the fact that his children want to find a man who has never been part of their lives.

'It's a reminder to me that, genetically, they're not my children,' he says through tears. 'Genetically, we're not related.'

Twin brother and sister Jayme and Jesse never had a father figure in their lives, having been brought up by their single mother Janis in California.

They have always wanted to know who their biological dad is, and have even attempted in the past to uncover his identity through the California Cryobank, but they were turned away for being under 18.

Now, though, they are both 18 and prepared to try again, with the support of their newfound siblings.

Despite the fact that they were all raised in separate places, Jesse says he recognizes some physical similarities between himself and his siblings.

'Just the way we act, the way we do things, the same music tastes, foods, what we like to do. So, that's definitely family characteristics,' he says.

The final half-brother in the group, also named Jesse, has a particular interest in finding their donor.

His parents chose to conceive him through donation because his father thought he was infertile.

But three years after Jesse was born, they were able to naturally conceive a baby of their own, leaving Jesse wondering what his place in the world is.

Throughout the series, Bree records a video diary in the hopes that she can eventually send it to her biological father.

'I would be OK with never meeting the donor,' she says, before adding: 'But I wouldn't be OK with myself if I never at least tried.'

According to the New York Post, MTV became aware of Bree and her siblings' story by getting in touch with the Donor Sibling Registry, where they were all registered.

'We were really interested in this idea of children of sperm donors being able to connect with each other,' explained Marshall Eisen, executive producer at MTV.

'We thought that’s pretty extraordinary and no one is telling that story. Our viewers are really interested in family. The idea of what family is becoming more complicated, so this fits right into that'.

Wendy Kramer, who is the founder and director of the Donor Sibling Registry as well as the Associate Producer of the show, says she hopes it will open up a much needed dialogue.

'Until now we've always looked at it like a donor's right to be anonymous somehow always trumps a child's right to be curious,' she told Today.com.

'So I think it's a great conversation to say, "When do a child's rights come into it?"'

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