‘At 22, I Found Out I Had Dozens of Siblings’

There was a knock at the front door.

“That’s it for you, Krista!” My husband shouted from the kitchen without even seeing it. It was like this all morning: one perfect stranger after another, standing on my porch, stuff next to them, hands out to hug me, their older sister.

As another brother walked through the front door, a little shy, I heard a familiar, loud voice from behind the house. It was my own laugh, complete with gasping for air.

I turned back to find out which one of them was making this sound – my voice! — and saw dozens of siblings who were already standing in a circle, arranging their toes in a lineup for a photo because, according to another sibling, we all have the same foot shared. I took off my sandals and joined my right foot in the circle. Sure enough, my big toe had found its doppelgnger—a dozen of them.

It was the first time I had met my siblings, although I still haven’t met all of them because we don’t know how many of us there are – it’s anywhere between three dozen to a few hundred. I knew about him for eight years, since the shocking day it appeared on the front page of the story new York Times,

Krista Bilton at home. Bilton was 22 when she learned she had dozens if not hundreds of siblings.
Patrick Stratner/iWine/Redux

At the time, in 2007, Mom was at home in Palisades when my father, Jeffrey, called to deliver the news in the absolute worst possible way. It was Valentine’s Day.

“I want you to have a copy of new York Times“She told him.

At the time my father was living in a van in Venice, California. We all rarely talked except at random check-in to see if he was okay, or goes around Christmas to get him dressed. But recently, my mother was doing better financially and she and my father were getting on better than they have been in years. There was even talk of trying to get a place with a guest house where Dad could stay so we could get him off the road.

Krista Bilton With Her Father, Jeffrey
Krista Bilton as a young girl with her father, Jeffrey. Bilton found that her father was a sperm donor, meaning she had dozens of half-siblings.

My mom drove to the local Pacific Palisades newsstand, where she got out of the car and began scanning the shelves for Times.

Then he saw

On the cover of the paper was a picture of my father, Jeffrey, sitting on a park bench on Venice Beach, with his arm around a young woman who looked very similar to me and my sister, Caitlyn.

Spread over the photo was the headline: “Sperm Donor Father Ends Anonymity.”

My mother almost fell. The front-page article tells the story of a man – the father of his children – who made a modest living by anonymously donating sperm to a California cryobank for nearly a decade and was once one of its “most requested donors” . He was now taking the unusual step of being the first anonymous sperm donor in history to publicly renounce his anonymity, inviting all of his biological children—each child of the “donor 150″—to his biological father in sunny California. To know.

As my mother grabbed the paper, a deep sense of betrayal swept over her.

My mother was the first gay woman she knew to start a family. She had met my handsome father in 1983 at a hair salon, and took him to lunch and offered him $2,000 for his sperm. He promised her that he would never donate sperm to anyone else.

While he and my father were not lovers, they became close friends over the years. She loved him platonically, but also as a member of our little family. In fact, next to me, Caitlyn and her parents, my father was the only other person he had loved consistently over the years.

Krista Bilton With Her Parents
Krista Bilton as a child with her parents. Bilton’s parents were not romantically involved, but were good friends.

My mother had worked hard to give us a strong sense of belonging to a family, even if it was not a “normal” family. Now he realized that it was all a fantasy. Nothing was normal in this family. About that. about jeffrey

She vowed to herself that she would never tell us about our father as a sperm donor, or the siblings—of whom there were many.

but after several months new York Times As the story went, my mother was faced with another disturbing fact. It turned out that the guy I’d been dating for over a year at the time was probably my half-brother. Now that was to tell us.

He made Caitlyn and me sit on our living room sofa to explain what had happened. We were both in shock. Now, not only did I have dozens, and potentially hundreds, of younger siblings, but I was faced with the dreadful realization that I slept with one of them. Needless to say, I broke up with him, although I did because I had met someone else.

A few days after my mom’s news, one of our biological sisters, 20-year-old named Rachel, sent me a friend request and message on Facebook.

“I hate to break it to you,” wrote Rachel, “but your father was an anonymous sperm donor, and I am one of your half-siblings.”

Along with the note came an invitation to join the Donor 150 Facebook group. As soon as I clicked the photo in the Facebook group, I felt it was all too much for me. My hands started trembling. I was experiencing a complete panic attack. I couldn’t handle a new family member, let alone a dozen of them.

I deleted the message, blocked Rachel’s account, and turned off my laptop. My coping strategy was to pretend that the whole thing had never happened. My sister Caitlin and I made a pact to never talk or talk about the siblings again. My mom was thrilled to hear that we could forget all that had happened and move on with our lives.

But nearly a decade later, in 2015, a chance meeting with my other biological sisters changed my entire attitude from shyness and heaviness to curiosity and excitement. Sadly, Mom and Caitlyn have not yet joined me in this change of heart.

Chris Bilton'S Family Reunion
“Family Reunion”, held at Krista Bilton’s home. Bilton (seven from left) was initially reluctant to visit her siblings.

At my home reunion, I learned that most of my siblings share physical traits—the same dimple on our left cheek, the same prominent eyebrow, the same muscular forearm.

There are also certain personality quirks, such as the constant distant gaze that make friends feel like we don’t care what they say, when we actually do—we can’t help but get lost in the clouds. Can. Or the fact that our phone battery always remains at 1 percent.

I believe my decision to host this “family reunion”—to meet and embrace these biological siblings—was a dose of reality so vivid that it threatened to perpetuate all those illusions. Give what mom once kept about our family.

Yet in the end, she decided to part ways nonetheless. She got out of her car, her face turning red from crying. “It’s a bad idea, Krista,” he warned, walking right past me and the house. “Really a bad idea.”

There was only one way to find out.

The above is an adapted quote from Krista Bilton’s new memoir, a normal familyWhich is available to order now.

All views expressed in this article are those of the author.

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