Ivy’s FamilyTreeDNA Story Begins

Ivy’s FamilyTreeDNA story began when she was 20 years old. Her mother revealed to her that she was conceived through a hospital-run sperm donor program in New York. With her mother’s encouragement, this life-changing information allowed Ivy, a self-proclaimed “information junkie”, to openly explore her family history and genetic origins.

Ivy at age three

A Surprise Match

Twenty-five years ago, access to records was far more limited than it is today. The only information Ivy had was the name of the hospital, and her mother had been told that donors were mainly doctors or medical students there. A web page for donor-conceived children to register didn’t offer much help, so, after some time, she moved on and resumed her life.

“Then,” she says, “FamilyTreeDNA came along.” “It allowed me to do the mitochondrial DNA test,” Ivy says. More often known as mtDNA, this test determines an individual’s maternal line and is part of FamilyTreeDNA‘s suite of DNA products for ancestry.

In spite of already knowing who her mother was, Ivy says it was “kind of fun!” Plus, she felt strongly it was just a matter of time before science would allow her to finally find her donor-dad. A few years later, she went back to the donor registry site to see if there were any updates. As it turned out, there was a man with a story very similar to her own. Same hospital. Same time period. He knew everything about the donor program, and had already located his donor-father. This man looked very much like Ivy’s brother, who was also donor-conceived using the same program, but had a different donor.

Ivy and hew newly discovered half brother

Thinking they might be related, the two agreed to run their DNA and see if there was indeed a match. There was. But, it wasn’t a match between this man and Ivy’s brother. It was her match! She had found a half-sibling, and he knew who their donor dad was.

Uncovering a Genetic Connection

Ivy’s biological father was a young doctor working with the study at the time, newly married with small children. Becoming a sperm donor allowed him to be involved with the science while making extra money for his family. In fact he shared his DNA with multiple DNA databases in the hopes of potentially hearing from his other biological (donor) children. It’s important to note that Ivy was not looking for a father–she had a wonderful dad who raised her as his own. She was, however, very curious to meet the man with whom she shares a genetic connection.

The half-brother Ivy grew up with is still searching for his donor father.

Ivy’s FamilyTreeDNA Story gets even better. Ivy’s birth father warmly welcomed her into his home and they discovered many things that they have in common, including the same birthday! “I am super lucky,” says Ivy. Not only does Ivy know where her musical talent comes from, she now has a family of eight new half-siblings with whom she shared an instant bond.

“This,” says Ivy, “is my best party story ever!”