My Brother Is On TV

by Stacey Jaros

A few months after our meet-up in Fresno J happened to call while M was visiting me for the day. We gathered around with the phone on speakerphone and had another lively conversation. J was prepared to tell us why he previously couldn't tell us he knew of the existence of our donor. He had been a guest on a TV show. His silence was because he'd signed an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement). That's IT? That's all it was?? I was much relieved to learn it wasn't due to ongoing litigation as I had suspected. I was also struck by how honorable he was for not breaking an agreement he signed. People break NDAs all the time, especially when pertaining to entertainment. I think that shows the integrity he has as a person.

J's sister who he grew up with, motivated by her desire to know their donor, reached out to a TV show known for finding adoptee's parents/children who had been presented for adoption. Because of the way DNA works, having J tested as well would be enormously helpful for his sister's search.

J and his sister had filmed the show many months prior. The producers had J's login to AncestryDNA. Around a week before my results appeared the producers handed back to J his control of his AncestryDNA account. Thankfully they had changed his account settings so any message to his Ancestry account would appear in his linked email inbox. Thank goodness. That's how J received the first message I sent him, when I sent the first three messages to Close Family matches.

The reason J and K were able to finally talk about it was because they'd seen the promo for the TV show. It was going to be aired as the season finale. He wasn't able to say anything further but because the commercial ran he could tell us when to watch. You'd better believe we all set our DVRs.

On December 11, 2017, J's episode of Long Lost Family aired. The show, about reuniting adopted people with birth parents and biological families, tackled the issue of conception via anonymous gamete donation for the first time with J and his sister's episode. I had never watched the show. In fact I had avoided it up until that point. The concept so is so fraught with emotion. I suspected two things about how the show is presented. One, I suspected the reunions would cause me more pain for my own lack of information of my biological paternal side, my sadness in missing my dad who passed in 1996, my sadness for adopted family and friends who would likely never have the closure the show was offering those it profiled. And two, I suspected the slant of the production would be of an emotionally manipulative nature, taking hours of footage of conversations and editing out all but the most heightened emotions of the guests.

One of the devastating outcomes of the results of the DNA test conducted by the show was J and his sister learning they did not share a donor. That part of the story is theirs to tell. J's sister met her donor on that show. The show found J's donor. J's donor was not interested in meeting.

That's how J knew our donor was alive. The donor didn't want to meet J on a TV show. Watching that show was deeply heart-wrenching. I hurt even now writing about it. My brother was rejected by our biological father. Oooh the complicated feelings.