US writer, Dani Shapiro
has just brought out her tenth book ‘Inheritance’ where she recounts her shock at finding out aged 54 that she was not the biological daughter of her father. Through an easy DNA test with ancestry.com which she did out of pure curiosity, she found out that she was in no way related to a half-sister of hers. Within 36 hours, and with the help of Google and Facebook, she tracked down who her real biological father was: a 78 yr old retired physician and medical ethicist. Speaking to Ray Darcy
she said she is ‘unusual’ in not having found any half-siblings (other people conceived through sperm from the same donor) and said that usually people find they have ‘scores’ of such siblings. She described the discovery as ‘like a second death’ – that she was losing her father, who was already deceased, all over again. It also shook at a deep human level her sense of identity: ‘I was my mother’s daughter and the biological child of a stranger.’ Ray Darcy commented on the discovery: “That’s the essence of it really, we believe who we are and that is why it must have been so shocking”.
In the US last year, 1.2 million people did DNA testing and of those 2%, or approximately 240,000 people discovered they were not the child of at least one of their parents. Of anonymous egg and sperm donation, Ms Shapiro said “I absolutely think it is not okay” and advocates for it to be banned. She added that the era of anonymity is effectively over because of the advent of DNA testing and the wide availability of data on the internet.