Sometimes in life we take small steps that end up having huge consequences. That is what happened for me 13 years ago today. My small step on that day—posting a short request on our new Yahoo group—grew into what is now the Donor Sibling Registry. What began as the effort of one mom to help her donor-conceived son connect with siblings, grew into an organization that has now connected more than 10,250 donor conceived people with their half-siblings and/or their donors. And amazingly, later today, on this 13th anniversary, we will hit 40,000 members!
Thinking back on where I was then and where we are now is an awesome experience. At the time, I was just a mom with a kid, or to be more specific, a mom with a kid in the car. In those days, my son, Ryan and I had our best conversations in the car. It was there that we first discussed the “new” Yahoo groups, and there that we decided to form one. And the rest, as they say, is history.
The history of the DSR began slowly. Our first message had a lonely place on the Yahoo group for a while. Over time, others gradually found the group. However, even at the 2-year mark, we had only 37 members. Little did we know then that membership would begin to accelerate, with the DSR growing beyond our wildest dreams. Reflecting back on Ryan’s conversation in the car, I realize how prescient he was when he said, “If I’m curious about other kids I’m connected to, there might well be other kids out there asking the very same questions.” And indeed there were—and are.
So much has happened in 13 years. The DSR has evolved from a group that connects people to one another to an organization that also offers support and education. And here are a few interesting “factoids” about us… During our first 13 years, 69.4% of the postings have yielded matches. People have waited an average of 116 days for a match. And an amazing 78% have matched instantly! As we surpass the 40,000 mark, instant matches will surely increase in numbers!
So where am I personally at the 13-year mark? In many ways, the DSR has changed my life. What began as a few words and a few minutes, has grown into books, tv shows, research projects, website management, media stories, public advocacy and a 24/7 commitment to the people whose lives are touched by donor conception. But in another way, I am exactly where I was 13 years ago—a mom with a donor-conceived son. While many of his questions have been answered, each day before I tend to my work at the DSR, I visit the site as a donor mom, looking, yet again, to see if any one else connected to Ryan has posted.