By Victoria Hill, LCSW

“A relative wants to connect with you,” is the first message I received—and ignored—after my 23andMe results were ready. I didn’t think twice about ignoring it as I did not have the desire or time to explore “distant relatives.” 

The next day I received another message: “I am sure you may be surprised as to what you have found on here.” Again, I ignored it as it felt like a gimmicky message from the company. 

My whole reason for taking a DNA test was because I had recently become very sick and heard about these tests that could show whether you carried certain genetic variants. Most doctors I consulted recognized something was wrong but were unsure as to what. Desperate for a diagnosis and clarity, I thought 23andMe could give me some insight. 

It did. Just not the kind I was looking for. 

The Discovery

In January, 2020, I connected with a relative 23andMe labeled a half-sibling, and there were six more listed at that time. My new half-sister informed me that I was seeing half-siblings because my mother must have sought help to conceive, and the doctor who helped her was also my biological father. A few years earlier, my mother had told me about her difficult time getting pregnant and how she and my father went to a hospital for help. Knowing this much, when my half-sibling referred to fertility troubles, she had my attention. 

I thought 23andMe could give me some insight. 
It did. Just not the kind I was looking for. 

Victoria Hill

After discussing more with my new half-sister, I approached my mother with the information, and we were both in shock. The doctor, who specialized in internal medicine and touted his expertise in endocrine disorders, was someone my mother trusted after working closely together for eight years as his patient. He formed a relationship with both of my parents—who trusted him to help them conceive—and ultimately took it upon himself to insert his own specimen into my mother without her knowledge or consent. 

I spent the first few weeks after my discovery researching everything and anything I could about my parents’ doctor and his family. This was how I coped. I felt like I might be crossing a line, but it was all public information. And what about the lines he crossed? 

I easily found out he lived only 45 minutes away—practically in my backyard. After learning this information, I sat at work most days distracted by flooding thoughts and feelings. Then one day I decided to leave work early, get in my car, and drive. 

I drove to his house with no plan. 

The Confrontation

I was just going to see where the doctor, my biological father, lived. Maybe this would make it more real. He had a longer driveway, so of course I had to drive down to see more. It was as if I could not get enough, the closer I got. I sat at the end of the driveway, looking at the front door, imagining what it would be like if I knocked and, on a whim, driven by pure impulse and a need for answers, I walked up to the door and rang the bell. His wife answered. 

At first I muttered something that did not make sense, and as his wife began to close the door, I clearly stated, “I think your husband is my biological father.” She then opened the door wider with apparent shock, confusion, and disbelief, and invited me inside. She asked me to sit at the table, and I could hear her walk into another room and tell her husband I was there. I heard him walking towards the room I was in, my heart pounding as he got closer. It felt as if I was watching a movie and not my own life. 

My biological father entered the room and the first thing I noticed were his eyes. They were mine. I had never seen someone in my family with the same shade of gray/blue eyes, and now here it was. It was then it truly clicked: This was real. He then sat down to discuss my allegation. He very candidly admitted to it and expressed no concern or remorse over the situation. When I asked how many times he may have impregnated his patients with his own sperm, he chuckled and said, “I have no idea,” almost to insinuate it had been too many times to count. 

I asked him about health history, and he seemed to recognize this was important information to have. He later sent a letter to my home outlining some major health issues in his family, some of which explained the health concerns I was experiencing. 

When I asked how many times he may have impregnated his patients with his own sperm, he chuckled and said, “I have no idea,” almost to insinuate it had been too many times to count. 

Victoria Hill

Over the next few years and the course of a pandemic, I continued to process this information and what it meant for me, my mother, father, and my children. All the while, half-sibling after half-sibling continued to pop up on AncestryDNA and 23andMe. I struggled to connect with each one, break the news, and repeatedly explain the story. I struggled a lot over the first few years, but it was in May of 2023 that I struggled the most. 

The Second Discovery

In May of 2023, I attended a high school reunion. I was eager and excited to see many of my classmates for the first time in years, and I reconnected with some of my closest friends, including my high school boyfriend.

My high school boyfriend and I met in eighth grade, quickly grew incredibly close, and spent most of our time together. Friends joked about our connection when we went to parties or hung out with others but always found our way into a corner together. We shared something unlike anything else I had experienced. We were best friends until 11th grade, when we decided to finally date and become intimate. Then we went our separate ways before attending different colleges. We saw each other throughout the years but naturally drifted apart. Still, he was and always will be someone I hold strong feelings for.

After reconnecting at the reunion, my friends and I decided to get together again in a more intimate setting. As we sat around a dinner table, I told my surprise-DNA and fertility-fraud-discovery story. Then my former boyfriend turned to me and said, “My mother recently told my twin brother and I that we were conceived via IVF.” He and his brother were born exactly one month after I was at the same hospital. 

It was at this moment that we looked at each other, our stomachs in knots, and shared the same horrifying thought: What were the chances that our mothers used the same doctor?

That night, I demanded my former boyfriend ask his mother the name of the doctor who had helped her conceive. He did, and she repeated back my biological father’s name. He then took a 23andMe test and in July of 2023, it was confirmed. My high school boyfriend and his twin brother were my half-siblings—numbers 21 and 22 in our sibling pod.

The trauma around this revelation is profound. If my former boyfriend and I had attended the same college, we likely would have married and had children together only to later discover we were brother and sister. Even after we went our separate ways, we saw each other at friends’ weddings, and there was always a connection between us. Had one of us not been with someone else at those times, we might have reconnected. 

The trauma around this revelation is profound. If my former boyfriend and I had attended the same college, we likely would have married and had children together only to later discover we were brother and sister.

Victoria Hill

There was and always will be a strong pull towards one another—one that feels very disturbing now, but you cannot just turn it off. This late discovery also takes away from all that we shared and what could have been had we known earlier in our lives—or not at all. 

The Future

I am only now beginning to understand what my discoveries mean for my past and my future. I have since found that I attended elementary school with a half-sibling, lived across the street from another, and attended high school with three more. I continue to assume random strangers who slightly resemble me or my children could be related, because if my high school boyfriend could be my half-brother, anyone could be. 

I also worry about my children and will insist they DNA test anyone they want to become serious with. The reality is that marrying or having children with a close relative is very much a possibility when there is no cap on the number of siblings a sperm donor can create, let alone other regulations. 

I live in Connecticut, where there is no legislation regarding fertility fraud, which is the conversational term for what happened to my parents. In other words, it is not illegal for a doctor to impregnate a patient with the doctor’s own sperm without consent. My mother and I attempted to get legal advice regarding her insemination with her doctor’s sperm, but we were turned away multiple times. We were told there was nothing that could be done due to the lack of legislation and/or the statute of limitations. My half-siblings who tried to seek legal representation were also turned away.

I now know of five different doctors involved in fertility fraud cases from Connecticut. I believe this may be the most in any state, known to date. Some are in litigation, some are not yet public knowledge, and others have been dismissed. To my knowledge, none of the doctors have lost their medical license as a result. There are few repercussions for fertility fraud when there isn’t a law against it. I am now working with Connecticut state legislators to remedy this gap in the law, but progress is slow.

I struggle now with trying to understand my identity, health issues, and other missing pieces. I struggle to explain what this all means to my children. I struggle to comprehend how any doctor could not find the act of inseminating patients with his own sperm, without their consent, not only extremely unethical and negligent but also a form of sexual assault. I struggle with comments like, “Well aren’t you just happy to be alive?” 

My discovery will be a trauma that keeps on giving as I find siblings every month, my children find cousins, and we continue to inform each new arrival that their mother was inseminated by our biological father with his sperm, without her consent.

Victoria Hill, LCSW, is based in Wethersfield, CT, where she resides with her husband and two children. At her Wellness Center, she specializes in addressing trauma, mood disorders, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. She is actively exploring opportunities to expand her focus by collaborating with the donor conceived and recipient-parent population, recognizing the interconnected traumas. As a colleague in the DCP community aptly expressed, “We are just really beginning to learn that everything to do with fertility treatment is like the wild wild west.” Her story has been featured on CNN.

This post was contributed by a guest author as part of U.S. Donor Conceived Council’s mission to educate on the lived experiences of donor conceived people. Guest posts do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of USDCC.

Top image by Jilbert Ebrahimi via Unsplash