A student with two mothers has shared the remarkable story of how she discovered her huge extended family across America after she tracked down her sperm donor father’s 16 other children online.
Originally Kacie Saxer-Taulbee, 19, started looking for her biological father but in the process she came across the Donor Sibling Registry and discovered she had 16 siblings.
Kacie, who is a student at Yale University, Connecticut, and grew up in Missouri, first found out she had a sperm donor father aged seven when her mothers gave her and younger sister Kailyn, now 17, ‘The Talk’.
Two mothers: Kacie Saxer-Taulbee, 19, a student at Yale, was brought up by lesbian mothers. She knew she had a sperm donor father from a young age but did not feel inquisitive about who he was until she was a teenager
All bases covered: Kacie and her 16 siblings, nine of which are pictured above, are spread across America
They were told that one of their mothers, Taryn, was their biological mother and that their father was a sperm donor.
They were shown the information from the sperm donor file that showed he was born in 1969 in New York, a college professor, had brown hair and was five-foot-eleven.
But it was not until six years later when she was 14 that she started feeling curious about him.
The life changing moment came when she started searching for her father on the internet and stumbled across the Donor Sibling Registry.
Using her father’s ID number, she entered his name into the database and found numerous matches.
Speaking to Seventeen, she said: ‘It all started when I was learning about recessive and dominant generic traits at school. We got the assignment to compare our thumbs to our parent’s thumbs and see how far they bent back.
Genealogy: Kacie, who grew up with sister Kailyn, 17, pictured left, started searching for her father when she was 14 and she came across the Donor Sibling Registry where she found she had numerous half-siblings she did not know about – including Grace Weinstein, 20, pictured right
Union: Some of the group of 17 siblings, which includes Andy Aronson, 20, from Waltham, Massachusetts, pictured above, met up
‘The second I got home, I grabbed my mom Taryn and stuck my thumb next to hers. Mine bent all the way back; hers was straight as an arrow. I must have gotten my “hitchhiker’s thumb” from my dad! I wondered, “What other traits did I inherit from this mystery man?”‘
Until going on the registry, she said she had ‘never thought about having half brothers and sisters’.
Describing the moment she realized she had siblings she said: ‘I went to the site and entered my father’s cryobank number.
‘The page refreshed with small rectangles saying things like, “Boy, born April 1998” and “Girl, born November 1995.”
‘It took me a second to realize the weight of my discovery. These weren’t just boxes – they were my family. And there were so many of them.’
She said the discovery made her feel like ‘I’d found a missing piece and I didn’t even know what I was looking for’ as she started, over the course of several months, tracking down her siblings.
‘I was so nervous and excited about talking to them to find out what we had in common. I also thought, How many more of us can be out there?
‘I’m part of this huge group of people just living their lives while sharing half their DNA with total strangers,’ she said.
Close: Now the siblings, which includes Mike Ondeck, 19, from Sparks, Maryland, pictured left, and Silas Weiner, 19, pictured right, are in regular contact
When they started sharing photos, she said it was ‘crazy’ to see their resemblance to her. Adding: ‘It sounds cliché, but I felt like I loved them instantly.
‘And for the first time, I felt like I could really start to picture my dad in my head, based on our common “Snow White” aesthetic: blue eyes, dark hair, and pale skin.’
The following year, some of the half-siblings started meeting up.
She said: ‘I couldn’t believe how everyone felt so familiar. We started calling ourselves 5010ers [after their father’s donor number].
‘It was interesting to share the experience of not having our dad in our lives.
‘We compared stories of vacant Father’s Days and the unanswerable sections on official paperwork.
‘Initially, I kept up a pact with myself to talk to each of my siblings at least once a month, but as in every family, I got closer to some than others.
‘My older brother Andy actually took me on my college tour, and my younger sister Lexie came to my high school graduation. We’ve even started a “secret sibling” gift- exchange tradition for the holidays.’
Today there are 13 of them who keep in touch – and they have their own dedicated Facebook group. She said they all have ‘hitchhiker’s thumb’.
Brothers and sisters: The siblings, which includes Lexie Ford, 18, a student from Texas, have managed to find 13 of the total of 17
Still searching: There are four siblings that the group, which includes Holden Harrod, 19, from Vermont, pictured above, are yet to track down
In addition to Kacie and Kailyn, there is Holden Harrod, 19, from Vermont, 20-year-old Grace Weinstein, also known as Gray Isaacs, who lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where she is a student at Boston University, Andy Aronson, 20, from Waltham, Massachusetts and Mike Ondeck, 19, from Sparks, Maryland.
Their other siblings are Silas Weiner, 19, who studies anthropology at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina, Brian Cozart, 19, from Paragould, Arkansas, and Lexie Ford, 18, a student at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.
Four of the 13 asked not to be named and there is an additional four others who they have not managed to get in touch with.
Grace has written about the experience of finding out she was not an only child on her blog.
‘I arrived to meet a smiling face that looked eerily similar to mine, a personality freakishly identical to mine, and an abundance of small mannerisms that mirrored mine.
‘I found myself flowing and vibing with these 10 people who I just happened to share DNA with…no big deal or anything,’ she wrote.
Kacie said the experience of meeting each other has helped her to ‘get a sense of who our father is’.
‘I’ll probably never know my full family history, but we’ve created a mosaic with each of our pieces, and we help fill gaps in each other’s lives.
‘We’ve also gotten a sense of who our father is, and I like to think he’d be happy to know that we’ve found each other,’ she said.