Sperm Donor Siblings Find Family Ties

Children, Moms Using The Web To Find Anonymous Relatives

CBS All Access
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It may seem like something out of "Brave New World," but this extended family of five, with its complicated genealogy is not as unusual as you might think.

A decade ago, donor insemination was used almost exclusively by married couples with fertility problems, often keeping the children in the dark. Today, roughly half of the people going to sperm banks are lesbian couples and single women.

With no male in the household, it's harder to conceal the truth, so a generation of donor kids, like Ryan Kramer, has stepped out of the shadows and begun to seek answers to some of life's most basic questions: who am I, and where did I come from?

Asked why this became so important to him, Ryan says: "Having that half of my family and half of really where I came from be a complete unknown was something that I was very curious about. I feel that I'm a whole person, but I'm missing part of where that person came from."

When somebody asks who his father is, Ryan says he tells people he doesn't know. "I was born through anonymous donor insemination. So, I don't know who he is exactly," he explains.

Asked what he puts down on forms he has to fill out for school, Ryan says, laughing, "N/A (Not Apply)."

Ryan lives outside Denver with his mother, Wendy. She conceived him with an anonymous sperm donor because there were fertility issues with her and her husband. That marriage ended in divorce when Ryan was one. Over time, her son's endless curiosity about his biological father and potential half-siblings piqued her own.

"You said that there were traits that obviously didn't come from you. What were the traits?" Kroft asked.

"His brain," Wendy replied, laughing.

Ryan is a mathematics prodigy. At 15, he is a sophomore at the University of Colorado, studying aerospace engineering. Lots of mothers hope to raise a rocket scientist; Wendy Kramer got one.

She says that didn't come from her. "And I used to joke that, ya know, as far as, ya know, the sperm goes, I put in for regular and somebody gave me high-test," Wendy says.

Hoping to find Ryan's biological father, Wendy contacted her sperm bank. The California Cryobank is one of the largest in the country, and has supplied the sperm to create as many as 200,000 babies. But like other banks, it is built on the bedrock of anonymity, insulating donors from paternal obligation — legal, financial, or otherwise. So Wendy Kramer went to the Internet and began building an online database called the Donor Sibling Registry.

It's a worldwide registry for donor conceived people. Wendy says the response has been huge.

"Adult donor conceived people, parents of the donor conceived and, now more than ever, even the donors themselves are coming to the site saying, 'I had no idea that I had the right to be curious,' " she explains.

The Web site now has more than 7,000 members. They send in their contact information, along with the name of the sperm bank that was used, and the donor number. The Web site collates the information, allowing donors, their offspring, and half-siblings to contact with each other.

On the site, one can spot quite a few matches, highlighted in yellow.