CHICAGO -- A Chicago woman whose biological father was an anonymous sperm donor has discovered via a DNA testing service that she has 15 half siblings.
Morgan Richardson, 31, discovered her half siblings over the last four years after submitting a DNA sample to 23andMe, The Chicago Tribune reported . The website analyzes DNA to provide information about a person's ancestry, health and other traits.
"It's exciting, but it is a little bit jarring," Richardson said. "I always wonder: 'What do they do?' 'Where do they live?' 'What are they like?' 'What's their experience as a donor-offspring child?'"
Morgan Richardson and her twin sister Lauren Richardson, who lives in Michigan, have known for years that they were conceived through in vitro fertilization. Their mother was divorced and single when she decided to have children.
The twins were 16 when their mother died of breast cancer. So Morgan Richardson turned to 23andMe when she wanted to learn more about the donor's background.
Morgan Richardson discovered that she was British, Irish, German, French and Eastern European. Then she discovered that she had a half sibling.
The sisters soon found more matches through the website, as well as Ancestry.com and the nonprofit Donor Sibling Registry. The Richardson-related half siblings have created a Facebook group to keep in touch.
Marie McCulloch, 35, of New York, is one of the half siblings. McCulloch was also excited to learn about her heritage and has tracked down an 80-year-old man who she believes could be their father. They have yet to meet.
She said she's sometimes sad about having gone for so many years without knowing about her relatives, but that the experience has been largely positive.
"Finding these people I didn't know I was related to, I feel a lot more grounded and more sure of myself," McCulloch said. "It's like I discovered a limb I didn't know I had."
Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com