Carlie McMaster wanted to find out more about her father’s family line so she sent her DNA to Ancestry.com in 2019.
A Brantford resident for many years, her father had died a few decades earlier. She said that while she was trying to find out more about her family’s history, the test to establish her genetic information connected her with the DNA of Rylee Hall, a Minnesota woman.
After getting connected through Ancestry.com, Hall and McMaster began to chat in April 2019, including about how they might be related.
McMaster found out that McMaster had a biological father, whom he’d never seen.
McMaster, who is 28 years old, stated that he was shocked.
Hall, 26, said she too was shocked, but had always sensed something was off — she felt she looked different than other members in her family, and suspected her dad might not be her biological father.
Hall had been told by her mother that she was conceived via sperm donations a year prior to meeting McMaster.
Hall claimed that her mother always intended to tell her the truth, but it never came about. She said her mother finally told her the truth after Hall told her she was planning to take an Ancestry.com test.
Hall stated, “It is not as if everybody must tell their child that they were sperm donors. So you don’t have to really prepare yourself for that.”
“I was happy that she told me, but maybe a little upset with the way she went about doing it and that she waited so long.”
Hall claimed that McMaster didn’t tell her outright she was half-sisters. She wanted to keep the story light and gentle when sharing it with McMaster.
McMaster stated that Hall thought she was playing pranks on her after McMaster and Hall had come to their conclusion.
It is clear that, now, I am questioning my identity. Back then though, the thought was, “Put this unknowable thing away.” McMaster replied, “I don’t want to deal it.”
McMaster stated that McMaster finally spoke with Hall ten months after McMaster and Hall first came into contact.
McMaster stated that McMaster was told by her mother she was conceived using sperm donations and that the father who raised McMaster was not her biological parent.
McMaster quoted her mother as saying, “‘It was very taboo back then, so we didn’t know how to tell you.'”
McMaster didn’t initially understand how to deal with the discovery at first, but “Now it’s clear that I am happy because of Rylee”.
Both McMaster and Hall are in contact with Grant, a Toronto resident they never knew existed but who they learned is their biological father.
Grant noticed an advertisement in 1990 as he was about to leave Canadian Blood Services. Grant had been a regular donor of platelets.
“They had an ad for fertility donors in the elevator at the clinic,” Grant told the CBC Hamilton in an interview. He signed up to donate sperm for the same reason he donated blood — because he wanted to help, he said. He didn’t want his full name used for privacy reasons.
Grant stated that he gave twice per week, except Christmas. Grant said each donation made approximately four vials.
Grant, who is now in his late 50s, said he has tried to do the math and estimate how many people he could be genetically linked to through his sperm donation. He guesses it could be in the hundreds but the exact number is unclear.
Hall explained that Hall’s mother underwent a year-long treatment process before she was able to become pregnant.
“Because she is an older woman, she went to the clinic every month. She did this 12 times…once a month for the whole year. And on the thirteenth month they said, “Oh, it worked!”
Grant doesn’t know how Grant’s Minnesota sperm donation came to be. He believes that it is due to Grant’s longevity and his successes as a donor.
He said, “If you are a good enough donor and have the ability to give long-term pregnancies that have been successful, then they will have to alter the geographic boundaries.”
Grant stated that Grant was told by his bank that the sample would move for five consecutive pregnancies within a certain geographical region. (Grant said the bank never specified the exact size of the area.)
These clinics are used to prevent an area from becoming overpopulated with people who have a genetic connection.
Grant claimed that the McMaster-Hall births were within the timeframe of two years.
Grant stated that, when he gave sperm in the 1990s he didn’t know that online DNA testing would be possible. Grant said that he was largely forgetful of his years as a donor of sperm. However, McMaster and Hall reached out to him.
Grant was astonished to meet the young donors-conceived women.
You’ve been wondering about this for 30 years. Then, suddenly, it hits you: “Oh, gosh! I have a grown-up child!” How does this child look? Is there a pattern to their behavior? His words were: “You know what? Nature versus nurture.”
From strangers to sister
McMaster accepted that she had a U.S. sister, and the two became closer. Although they initially shared lengthy phone calls, Hall says they still communicate a lot via every social media platform.
Their relationship grew stronger last fall after Hall traveled to Ontario with McMaster for 10 days.
McMaster stated, “It felt just so normal once it was together.”
Hall stated that there is still a lot to catch up.
Hall made contact with McMaster’s whole family while in Ontario. They even had matching tattoos of butterflies as an expression of sisterhood.
Hall plans to return to Ontario this August for an even bigger reunion.
Grant said that at the end of the summer, McMaster, Hall, himself and his 17-year-old son will all meet and spend a weekend together in Toronto.
He said, “They are just going to watch what happens.”
There are 3 more siblings
The McMaster-Hall Story has more to it.
Their DNA website has helped them discover other family members.
McMaster explained, “We’ve discovered three more siblings. So there are five of us so far.”
The siblings, all of whom are women, were born between the 1990s and 2000 in Canada. Three of the siblings live in Western Canada, specifically British Columbia.
McMaster and Hall stated that they would work with each other to create a message about a possible sibling.
Hall explained that Hall didn’t wish to upset anyone by not knowing.
McMaster declared, “I would never wish to endanger someone’s lives.
Hall stated, “Or the relationship that they have with parents.”
Podcast tells story about half-sisters
McMaster was a frequent listener to their respective stories, and Hall came up with an idea to create a podcast called “The McMaster Show”. Our Donor is our Daddy.
They plan to tell their story and talk about other people who were conceived using sperm donation.
Grant expressed pride in McMaster’s and Hall’s podcasting efforts, as it may help others facing similar challenges.
He said, “To hear someone else’s story makes it feel better because there’s no one like us.”
Podcast will release August 1st on Spotify and Apple Music.