To The Donor Who Made Me An Aunt

Did you know that the baby you gave to my family would be born into the greatest love?

For a long time, I believed this wasn’t my story. I started this letter to you a year ago, quietly and in my private journal. After all, I have two healthy sons with my husband through traditional means. What you did is for my sister. For my sister and her wife. The gift you gave wasn’t intended for me.

Plus, I don’t know you at all. I never will. I will never see your name, your profile, your photo—those records exist only for privileged eyes and those aren’t mine. Perhaps, someday, my sister will share your information with their daughter. That is up to them and only them.

I am learning how this brave new world works, and I still have questions, but this I know: My letter to you will never be sent. We will never have a conversation about why you made the decision you did. I won’t hear you explain why you walked into a clinic to donate your sperm.

I can speculate, of course. The writer in me has spent the past year concocting brilliant narratives about you. Our society assumes the only reason a man would part with his DNA for complete strangers is for money.

But I like to believe differently. Donor, I made a different story for you.

I imagine a piece of you knew that out there, in the big world, two women had grown up desperately trying to please others and to conform. They struggled with their families, against their families, and with their own hearts to be “normal.” They wanted their lives to be what was presented to them, what Hollywood lauded, and certainly what their churches pushed.

One day, they found each other and the lies stopped. It wasn’t easy for them and things weren’t blissful all of the time. But they found a love worth fighting for. It was an honor to cry in joy with them at their intimate marriage ceremony overlooking Seattle’s skyline.

I don’t know what you were doing the day they wept into each other’s arms while making lifelong vows. Were you watching football? Off working? Meeting someone on a first date?

I like to think that at the moment the minister pronounced them, a cosmic flutter shot to your heart and you were changed. An undeniable force spurred you into action. You knew that these two women had finally stopped lying and their coupled happiness made Mother Earth happy. You knew what they were going to need and you rushed off to help.

When my sister and her wife picked you, they committed to you fully, the same way they committed to each other. It took many procedures but it was always with you.

Donor (may I call you friend?), I like to think that you knew all of this when you walked in to that sperm bank. You knew that you were fulfilling their destiny and that all of this was designed by a greater web weaver than we can comprehend.

Oh, I should stop, though. These don’t seem like my thoughts to share. This story doesn’t seem to be mine and I certainly am not the one who should be writing a letter to you.

But I can’t stop.

Because I want you to know some things from my heart. Today, I held their baby, the baby that you helped to make. This baby that is my niece, cousin to my sons, and the only granddaughter to my parents. Her DNA, enmeshed with yours, is part of my forever fabric now.

So, you see, donor, this is my story, too. Because that perfect, blue-eyed little girl I have the opportunity to watch grow, whose nose I get to wipe, and whose falls I get to catch, means that you and I are also connected. Forever, irrevocably.

As I sniff my niece’s baby head, all powder and fluff and down, I cry. As her perfectly round eyes look up at me, I break down inside.

You and I will never meet. But I so desperately want to know what you knew. Did you know that the baby you gave to my family would be born into the greatest love?

Dear donor, you filled a hole. The biggest part was where my sister lived her life, but there was a hole here on my side, too. Our family gathers around my perfect niece and we smile bigger, love harder, and learn more.

Every single day, we learn more. We learn that DNA doesn’t matter. What we learn is that deciding to love someone, regardless of whose genetic material is involved, is the easiest thing to do and by far the most important.

For a while I believed that this wasn’t my story to tell. But that isn’t true. It is the story of everyone who ever knows her. Donor, thank you for filling another piece of my heart and giving me my niece.

Allison Barrett Carter is a freelance writer in North Carolina whose pieces have appeared in many places, such as The New York Times’ Motherlode, The Washington Post On Parenting, The Mid, Mamalode, The Good Men Project, and in several print anthologies as well as various local news outlets. She is on a journey to keep learning and finding the best life, documenting it all on her website. She can be found on Twitter (@allisonbarrettc) or on her Facebook page and welcomes the opportunity to connect.

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