the cut on tuesdays

The Pregnancy Was Planned. The Extended Family Wasn’t.

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The Cut on Tuesdays

A weekly podcast from the Cut and Gimlet Media, with host Molly Fischer.

Jenny and her wife wanted to start a family, and they decided to use an anonymous sperm donor. Using donor sperm is a process that’s changed a lot in recent decades, as Alexa Tsoulis-Reay explored in a 2016 feature for the Cut — and when Jenny and her wife started looking, the experience was a little like online dating, or shopping.

JENNY: It was a hundred percent online. The only time we went to the clinic was to pick up our big canister of sperm. I’ll tell you, we were so excited when we started — by the time it took us a year and a half to conceive, we weren’t so excited, but I still have a picture of that canister in the back seat with a seatbelt.

Eventually, the contents of that canister allowed them to have their beloved child. They were a family! They went to parties with other families. And one day, at one party, they found themselves in the backyard, talking to the other lesbian couple in attendance.

JENNY: They had just moved to California and they had moved two blocks away from us and they seemed awesome.

They got along right away, and the other couple had a kid who was a year younger than theirs, so naturally they decided a playdate was in order.

JENNY: We had invited them to our house for some wine. And in the lesbian community, you joke about what is your donor number — you throw it out. And we were joking that our kids looked so much alike that … I mean, a lot alike.

On her phone, Jenny had saved a screenshot of their donor’s profile.

JENNY: And so I brought it up on my phone and said, is this your donor? Really joking, thinking there’s no way that it would be. And my new friend pretty much lost it.

We had just met these people, and they share the same donor? It was really, really freaky. How does that happen? With someone that just moved two streets down from me, that is in my circle of friends — and they’re brothers. 

This was not part of the plan when Jenny and her wife brought their canister of sperm home to start a family.

JENNY: I actually thought it was like a one-in-a-thousand or -million chance it could happen, considering that the bank says they only give up to 25 family units around the world. And that means, if you’ve just guessed, 25 family units, an average of two children … that’s 50 siblings around the world. 

OK, Jenny thought. This is a crazy fluke. There is NO WAY this is going to happen again.

JENNY: And then it did.

To hear what came next (and what came after that), click above, and subscribe wherever you listen.

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