Monday, May 25, 2015

Search for biological Father takes 40 years

Imagine Searching 30 Years for Your Biological Father and Finding Him and Eight Siblings?
      Patricia Issberner, a lawyer from New York, did just that.  It was in the 1960’s after trying to have children for 15 years that her parents found out that her “legal father” could not have children.  Their doctors suggested a new technique then known as “artificial insemination.”  There were no sperm banks and only fresh sperm was used.
         Finally, after a miscarriage using artificial insemination, Patricia’s mother was finally pregnant.  Born healthy, life looked bright until her parents divorced.  After that an inspirational story of rags to riches began as Patricia’s Mother remarried a compulsive gambler and they had no food or money for clothes.  Plus, Patricia’s step-father was quick with his hands to hit her.  Without anywhere to go, her Mother worked two jobs and she saw her legal father on weekends.  Then one weekend her 18 year old cousin sexually abused her at the age of ten.  Her Father did not believe her and the Courtroom battles began.  At only the age of 10 Patricia told her story to the Judge on the stand and all of her family in the audience. It was excruciating painful, but afterwards, the Judge ruled on her side and she could not see her “father” overnights, nor the 18 year old cousin at all. 
         Shockingly, her father decided not to see Patricia anymore.  Her Mother made him tell her himself.  Perhaps it was child support.  Perhaps the long drive from Queens to Long Island.  Perhaps it was because she was not his real daughter.  But at age 10, at the very last visit, he told her that he would never come to pick her up again.  Stoically, she went inside her Mother’s house to find her in a puddle of tears.  At the age of ten Patricia was told that her biological Father was a sperm donor and that the man she thought was her Father was really someone else.  But what was a sperm?  At age 10 she knew little.
         Over time she grew curious.  She met with her Father once or twice as an adult and realized that not seeing him was a blessing because of his alcoholism and mental illness.  He had no explanation for why he left, but of course, now that she was a lawyer with children, he wanted back in her life.
         Meanwhile, she had joined support groups on the internet.  They were fellow “donor offspring” who had found all sorts of methods, mostly failing ones, to find their biological fathers.  But Patricia took a DNA test and found some fellow ½ siblings that were searching too.
In 2000, one of the support groups called desperately looking for her to appear on The View as a replacement for someone else who had dropped out.  With only 24 hours’ notice, she was to appear on a live TV show that aired internationally.  Perhaps she could find her Father?  Perhaps she could get the word out that “we” deserved to know our ethnic and medical past and that we were not part of whatever contract our parents had with these donating doctors?  The appearance can be seen at the link below, after a long blue screen time:
         But not much resulted.  Not until the development of DNA and genealogy.  Patricia joined ever DNA website that could link family members and grew her tree on  Slowly more and more siblings were found.  We all met each other and were looking for our Father.  Just to know what happened.  His history, particularly medical history, were all on our minds.
         Shockingly, one of our distant cousins was a genetic genealogist and Professor in New Zealand.  Within weeks he had discovered who our Father was, and what a shock it was.  He was a psychiatrist and he had died at age 51.  He had two of his own children while he was married.  He donated perhaps 800 times.  At the time in the 1960’s, doctors preferred to use the sperm of doctors themselves, medical students or residents.
         Now that we know that he is our Father as his children took
DNA tests to confirm the relationship for us, it is a hard pill to swallow.  We have no true answers—except from his relatives.  He died young and unhappy, and we wonder if the gene followed us through our lives.  We pick apart ourselves and wonder.  We wish we had a chance to say something.
         Some siblings continue to search about his life while other choose to ignore the discovery and wish not to dwell on it whatsoever.  I myself am happy to have his genes.  He graduated from Columbia Medical School, and my legal Father had a 9th grade education.  I found out from him and the DNA websites that I was Jewish and my Jewish siblings welcomed me in.
         I look back at the woman who appeared on the The View.  She was desperate and hopeful.  She was 38.  Now at 50 I have found out this news and I am sad I cannot know him or why he donated so much.  He led a complicated life, much like my own.  I felt perhaps it was a rejection just like from my legal father-he used his sperm for money with no thought of the children he would produce or their futures. 
         Overall, I call this a success story.  Answers.  Finally.  A miracle.  How could this information fall upon us?  We are so lucky as so many will never know, and will end their search or search forever.  I am happy for my new family as we hold on to each other for peace and guidance.  Some of us have gotten remarkably close, as we were raised as only children.  Thank you to our cousin Patrick Cordue or finding our Father.  He is our hero.

 Patricia Issberner

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