In this memoir (True Story!), we meet author Dani Shapiro, who took a DNA test from a genealogy website — just for fun. But when the results came back, it shook her world. It turns out that her father was not her biological father.
“After listening to my entire story, he quietly said: “You can say, “This is impossible, terrible.’ Or you can say, ‘This is beautiful, wonderful.’ You can imagine that you’re in exile. Or you can imagine that you have more than one home.”
It’s a story that’s becoming more and more common. I actually have a friend who found out that she and her sister have different fathers — neither of them is related to the man who raised them — because their parents used a sperm bank for their conception. They’re in their 30s and just discovered this recently after taking a DNA test offered online. Shapiro decided to take it a step further — she found her sperm donor. Through some rather amazing research, she tracked down “Ben” and contacted him.
This book was really interesting. Shapiro tells a story about a woman finding her biological father and forging a relationship with a man who never gave a thought to her existence, and had a family of his own to protect. She also tells a story about a woman struggling to find meaning in her own life, once she’s realized that everything isn’t as it always seemed. She dives into the ethics of sperm donors, the meaning of family and identity, and how this information rocked her world. At the time when she was conceived, parents weren’t always made aware of how sperm donation worked. Since Shapiro’s parents are both deceased, she had to piece together what they may or may not have known about her biological father. In a strange turn of events, her biological father actually became a professor of medical ethics, so he had his own perspective as well. Her memories of her parents and their rather unusual relationship get starkly examined as well.
The writing and the story keep you hooked from the beginning. I was so desperate to see Shapiro get a happy ending, but life doesn’t always work that way.