Each couple has their own unique love story, but perhaps none are quite as interesting as that of a woman who fell in love with her sperm donor more than a decade after giving birth to his child.
For Jessica Share and her ex-wife, a sperm donor was the key to fulfilling their dream of starting a family together.
In 2005, the women decided that Share would become pregnant with the help of an unknown sperm donor, who, aside from his medical history, they knew only to be a writer, musician and taxi driver of average weight and height who “had studied literature, had wavy brown hair and liked sports.”
In an open letter for BBC Stories, the Seattle, Wash. resident says they had never seen a photo of their sperm donor, but Share’s wife was adamant that their future children never know his identity or meet with him.
Share gave birth to her daughter Alice, and months later, using the same sperm donor, her now ex-wife gave birth to another girl. The couple raised their daughters, genetically half-sisters, together for three years before they eventually divorced.
“There had been no conflict in our family, so I was shocked and heartbroken. She said she did not want to talk about it and there was nothing I could do to repair our marriage,” Share recalled. “I continued parenting the sisters five days a week for a few years. But when Alice was 10, my ex-partner blocked Alice on her phone, cut off all contact with her, and refused to return her younger sister following a vacation.”
When Share’s daughter was 11 years old, she asked for, and received, a DNA testing kit for Christmas. After eight weeks, the results revealed a 50 per cent match for Aaron Long as her father, and a 25 per cent match for a brother, named Bryce Gallo.
After some sleuthing online, using the limited knowledge she had of the unknown sperm donor and his medical history, Share sent a message to a man named Aaron Long who also happened to live in Seattle.
“There was no doubt,” Share said after seeing Long’s photos on social media. “My daughters make that stupid face.”
Long replied right away and the two quickly became friends online and supplied a 50-page life history which Share says she “devoured.”
Through reaching out to her daughter’s biological half-brother, Bryce Gallo, and about several other biological children including 19-year-old Madi.
After months of chatting, Bryce and Madi arranged a trip to Seattle to meet their biological father at a party at Long’s home. Alice was introduced to her half-siblings who although hesitant at first to make connections, “vied for Alice’s attention.”
As the siblings began to build a relationship with one another, Share and Long took the kids on a road trip to an arts festival. At the time, Share was ending her relationship with a man coincidentally named Aaron.
“On our vacation, donor Aaron flirtatiously suggested there had been a mix-up at the Bureau of Boyfriends. I smiled and demurred,” she wrote. “I was already in a relationship and was conscious that donor Aaron was an important person to my kids, but not someone who should necessarily be part of my own life. I didn’t want to spoil it for them.”
When her relationship with “old Aaron” ended, Share says she began to entertain the idea of Long as a potential partner.
“I found myself wondering if my children’s person could also be my person, and if Seattle was a place for us to land while we figured it out,” she explained. “Aaron’s kindness and continued connection with his exes convinced me that it would be safe to give it a chance… I spent my first date with Aaron relaying their lives to him. I already knew him and knew he was just like these people I love more than anyone else in the world. He was already family in some ways. His smirk and his colouring are those of my youngest daughter.”
In 2017, Share and her daughter moved into the same building as Long and were joined by his biological daughter, Madi.
The newly formed family have even joined a Girl Scout troop with another of Aaron’s “bio-kids” who is the same age as Alice.
“I quickly discovered that as a mom, I would gladly take any of our new half-siblings right inside, make them lunch, do their laundry, and take care of them forever,” Share said. “They are the siblings of my children, the genetic aunts and uncles of my grandchildren. I don’t parent them, but I feel inexplicably drawn toward feeding them.”
The family estimates there could be upwards of 67 biological children from him. For Share, the experience is has been full and twists, turns and lessons.
“By making a family in all these new ways through the years, I’ve learned more about what family means than anyone would want to. DNA has become far more important than it was when I first picked a donor from a page. Yet it hasn’t replaced the truism that families are built on love, not genes,” she said. “Being open to that love is what ultimately makes a family. Everyone can be welcomed and stay in the fold. There is room for many different kinds of relationships.”