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Donor-Conceived, Genderqueer Artist Advocates for Change
Episode 819th January 2024 • Family Twist • Corey and Kendall Stulce
00:00:00 00:43:07

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In this episode, we have the privilege of hosting Melanie Blanc, self-described "curvy spice girl," who shares her/their deeply personal journey as a donor-conceived individual. Her/their story is a riveting blend of self-discovery, family dynamics, and the complex emotions that come with uncovering one's true origins. Melanie's openness in discussing her/their experiences from childhood realizations to adult revelations makes for an engaging and thought-provoking listen. If you're intrigued by the intricacies of donor conception and the powerful bonds it can create, this episode is a must-listen.

Highlights of the Episode:

1. Early Discovery: Melanie discovered she/they were donor-conceived at the age of eight, prompted by a school lesson on genetics, leading to a life-altering revelation about her/their family.

2. Family Dynamics: Melanie shares the impact of this discovery on her/their family life, particularly their relationship with her/their social father, and the acceptance she/they experienced from their family.

3. Siblings and Connections: Melanie delves into their experience of connecting with her/their half-siblings through DNA testing platforms like 23andMe and Ancestry, highlighting the joys and complexities of these newfound relationships.

4. The Search for Identity: The episode touches on Melanie's search for her/their biological father, the lack of communication from his side, and Melanie’s emotional journey through this process.

5. Advocacy and Awareness: Melanie speaks about their involvement in advocacy for the donor-conceived community, emphasizing the need for ethical practices in the industry.

6. Future Aspirations: Melanie discusses her/their plans to further connect with her/their half-siblings and her/their idea of starting a podcast to explore these unique family bonds.

Closing Summary:

Melanie's journey, from the innocence of childhood curiosity to the nuanced understanding of their identity as an adult, offers a compelling glimpse into the life of someone born through donor conception. Her/their story is a tapestry of emotions, challenges, and the enduring quest for connection. If Melanie's experiences have moved you or sparked your interest in the fascinating world of donor conception, don't forget to rate, follow, and review Family Twist. Your support helps us share more stories like Melanie's with a broader audience.

Join the Family Twist family here!

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Kendall and Corey: [:

Melanie: Thank you. I'm so excited to be here.

Kendall and Corey: Well, we're excited to have you. Kendall and I have really delved into the donor conception side of the story, The Family Twists, over the last six months or so, and it's been absolutely fascinating, heartbreaking, heartlifting, all of it, because it's just everybody's story is unique, but there are so many similarities, of course, along the same way. And I think the heartening part for us is getting to see the donor conception community grow and helping each other through education and moral support and advocacy and all of that. So, thank you in advance for coming on and being open to sharing your story.

s to the adoption community. [:

Kendall and Corey: Right. Absolutely. Yeah. There are definitely crossovers there, not only within the industries, but also with just how people discover their truth, and sometimes it's super, super early on, like Kendall has never not known he was adopted. Right. And then there are other folks like our episode this last week, guy was 48 years old before he found out and essentially kind of forced his parents to tell him because there was like lingering stuff that was very confusing.

Melanie: I'm still halfway through that episode, but I've been kind of binging them throughout the last couple of weeks.

Kendall and Corey: Oh, Oh, awesome. Thank you. We appreciate that. So, let's talk a little bit about your story. When did you find out you were donor conceived?

about genetics for the first [:

Kendall and Corey: Right.

Melanie: That's not, that was never really in question the entire time.

, if this is [:

Melanie: Yeah.

Kendall and Corey: Yeah. I definitely feel that way.

Melanie: I do still, I like to call my dad, my social dad, because he's for all intended purposes, my dad.

Kendall and Corey: Are you older than your sister?

Melanie: No, my sister, so I have a full older sister, she's two and a half years older. My sister was born in 92. I was born in 94. And my sister never really had as much of an interest as I did. I think partly because she fit in with my mom's family more. I am sperm donor conceived.

Kendall and Corey: Right. Okay. Did your sister find out at the same time that you found out?

Melanie: Yeah. We were both sat down at the same time and my mom told us, and my sister just kind of was like, huh, and then just went back to watching cartoons.

Kendall and Corey: Wow.

Melanie: And at that point I remember my life like flipped upside down, but nothing changed.

endall and Corey: Mm hmm. At [:

Melanie: At that point, my mom really didn't have much information. We didn't really have a full donor profile but my parents were told that he had two degrees music.

Kendall and Corey: Oh,

okay. All right.

Melanie: So we were kind of in a nature versus nurture thing. My mom was like, let's see if you're musically inclined. And we were,

Kendall and Corey: Awesome. Awesome. That's cool.

Melanie: but then there is at one point, my mom brought up the donor sibling registry

Kendall and Corey: yes. Hmm. Hmm.

ound any other siblings until:

Kendall and Corey: Okay. Wow. So, 2020, that's when you did a test?

andme first in [:

Kendall and Corey: Mm hmm.

kind of waited. In January of:

Kendall and Corey: Right. Yeah. It was a weird couple of years for all of us. Everything was topsy turvy. Yeah.

Melanie: and weirdly enough, finding a long lost half brother wasn't even on the top 10 weird things that happened that year.

Kendall and Corey: Right. Yeah. Exactly. Have you connected with him now?

Melanie: We have connected with him now. He is honestly an amazing artist, a photographer. He is born 94 as well, the same year as me and he also has an older half brother.

Kendall and Corey: From the same donor.

Melanie: No, he also has an older full brother. He's my half brother.

Kendall and Corey: Gotcha. Okay. Right. Right. Yeah.

o it is kind of cool to find [:

Kendall and Corey: Okay. Okay. How far are you geographically from your half siblings? Or do you know?

Melanie: Well, okay. So out of the last couple of years, I have found 16 of us so far. And most of them live on the West Coast.

Kendall and Corey: Mm hmm.

Melanie: Uh, that is where our donor donated

Kendall and Corey: Okay.

Melanie: LA area. And so there's six or seven that still live in California. There's one in Portland, there's one in British Columbia, Canada.

Kendall and Corey: Cool.

Melanie: There's two right now in New York state, so I did go see them for Thanksgiving because I'm in Ohio.

Kendall and Corey: Right.


Melanie: it was a nine hour drive to go out to Albany to see one of my sisters.

Kendall and Corey: Very cool. Awesome. Awesome. Wow. How much do you know about the donor?

Melanie: [:


Kendall and Corey: boy.

Melanie: within one night, there was five more, and I saw a picture of my biological father.

Kendall and Corey: Wow. Man. Wow. Is he a famous musician?

n and you just kind of like, [:

Kendall and Corey: Oh, okay. Hey. Awesome. Yeah.

Melanie: has not reached out to any of our attempts to contact him.

Kendall and Corey: Okay. Okay.

Melanie: Um, I have had to talk myself and one of my sisters out of just showing up at his doorstep.

Kendall and Corey: Don't talk to Kendall because he'll talk you into going. Yeah, I know. and I haven't done that with my birth mother either. But, you know, I, I have this recurring dream that it happens, uh. Yeah, but anyway, uh, it's, you know, it is what it is at this moment, but I hear you, it's, it's hard not to just do it.

passion, give him some grace.[:

Kendall and Corey: Mm hmm. Sure. Absolutely. It is curious though that he's on Ancestry because obviously he knows he, oh, he's not. Oh,



Melanie: my sister who contacted me, who was on Ancestry had used dNA angels.

Kendall and Corey: Mm hmm. Okay. All right.

Melanie: So she was able to narrow it down to a very high percentage that it is this person. And then I saw a high school picture of him, and it is my face.

Kendall and Corey: Wow. Wow. All right. Yeah. Right.

Melanie: So, I have very little doubt at this point.

Kendall and Corey: Absolutely. Right. Yes, it's been a while since we've talked to DNA Angel, but we're going to do some more of those interviews this season because, the stories are just unbelievable

it down and turns out one of [:

Kendall and Corey: Oh, that's really

Melanie: Like it's one of the employees there, one of the volunteers there, her husband is like our second cousin or something.

Kendall and Corey: Oh, wow. Bizarre. It is a small world after all, you know. No kidding. Hahaha. Um, can we talk a little bit about the nature side of things? You mentioned that you and your sister are both musically inclined. Can you talk a little about that?

Melanie: So I played the French horn for over 10 years.

Kendall and Corey: Wow. Awesome. Very cool.

Melanie: My sister and I both attended an arts middle school, high school. She was more like a choral theater, musical theater major. And I was a band person through and through.

Kendall and Corey: Awesome.


en if my parents hadn't have [:

Kendall and Corey: That's amazing. Yeah, that's awesome. Are any of your siblings sort of exploring that as like career options?

Melanie: One of my brothers was a professional opera singer for several years.

Kendall and Corey: Very cool. Wow. Man. Amazing.

Melanie: then I do have a half sister who is in a band and like a comedy sketch group.

Kendall and Corey: Oh, cool. Very cool.

Melanie: Super, super creative people.

finding success in whatever [:

Melanie: Did you pick up traits? Cause that's something that I, with my social dad, like I do think I got some of his sense of humor. Did you pick up similar traits from your like adoptive parents?

him the same way that I, you [:

So I literally just got back last night from a trip to New York City with Kendall's half sister on his mom's side, and she's a NICU nurse, and we were traveling with three of her really dear friends who are also NICU nurses. And we'd kind of like chatted with one of them over the last year or so, via like Facebook and stuff, BJ, and guess what the B stands for, Kendall? Betty? Yes. Oh, and now, you know, my mother's name was Betty Jean, so I'm wondering now what J is in BJ. It might be, I don't think it's Jean. I think it's something, because [00:14:00] we were playing the guessing game. Oh. And, uh, I don't remember, but I definitely, yeah, so, yeah. Interesting. I know, it's just, it's a big, small world. yeah, yeah. What is the age range of your pod?

Melanie: So our pod the oldest is born in April of 91, and the youngest is May of 95.

Kendall and Corey: Oh, okay. All right. So, pretty close,

Melanie: Yeah,

Kendall and Corey: We're not, but not. But Kendall and I could have been the donor, but we're not. not. We we're we're of the age we could have been

Melanie: Did you live in Los Angeles, did you go to USC? I may have said too well. So one of the things that I think is interesting with my story is we have two separate donor numbers.

Kendall and Corey: Hmm.

Melanie: In my pod,

Kendall and Corey: Okay. Hmm mm-Hmm.

nt through the University of [:

Kendall and Corey: Hmm.

Melanie: which really is telling how new the industry is. It was like a page and a half of like 50 donor numbers.

Kendall and Corey: Oh, wow.

Melanie: And my parents had like their height, their eye color, basic information,

Kendall and Corey: Hmm.

Melanie: but my parents weren't given medical records as far as my mom knew, and so I have donor number 76, but one of my sisters has a different donor number from California Cryo Bank,

Kendall and Corey: Right. Hmm.

Melanie: and she is the same age as my full sister,

Kendall and Corey: Hmm. Wow.

Melanie: oldest was born in Detroit

Kendall and Corey: Hmm.

anks were donated to if it's [:

Kendall and Corey: Right. And, back, well, it's still, you know, it isn't regulated well enough at all. And you wonder if maybe they were being sold after they were collected to other banks, you know, so it's interesting, which that's this whole other ethical issue. Well, right. I mean, the lack of regulation there, it's the wild, wild west.

Melanie: yeah. Well, and I think it's so crazy that donor number 76 and then even then my half sister, like her donor number is in the under thousands, it's three digits

Kendall and Corey: Wow.

Melanie: and they're up to 20, 000 now.

Kendall and Corey: Wow.

Melanie: I think that's been kind of the craziest thing for me to learn in the last year is that they're still getting away with the same kind of practices from 30 years ago when we were all born.

Kendall and Corey: Right. Right. Yeah, absolutely.

pushed me into the advocacy [:

Kendall and Corey: Totally makes sense.

Well, let's talk a little bit about the advocacy. We found each other through a couple of our former guests, Laura High and Donor Dylan, and were all together at a first of its kind protest in New Orleans recently. Can you talk a little bit about that experience?

lly figured out a way to get [:

Kendall and Corey: That's great.

Melanie: had found the Made to Wonder Race.

Kendall and Corey: Mm-Hmm.

Melanie: Through, is that the USDCC or is that Right to Know?

Kendall and Corey: I can't remember which.

Melanie: I think this was the second or third year that they're doing the Made to Wonder Race to End Anonymous donations. And so I had found that, we signed up for that, and I showed up with my husband in Jackson Square, and just kind of, uh, trauma bonded instantly with everyone.

Kendall and Corey: Hmm. That's great.

both of the Mels from is the [:

Kendall and Corey: Mm-Hmm.

Melanie: There were, like, two Melanies and three Mels there, so it confusing.

Kendall and Corey: Here's your name tag, right? Yes.

Melanie: Yeah, did have name tags. And the protest was amazing, getting to hear Dylan tell his story over and over again to people who genuinely had no clue that this was going on. It was life changing in a way that I knew we were dealing with a problem, but I didn't quite realize that this is a human rights issue.

Kendall and Corey: Mm-Hmm. .Absolutely. Mm-Hmm. ? Yes.

Melanie: This is a massive problem of people being able to buy and sell children,

Kendall and Corey: Right?

Melanie: making billions of dollars off of it.

dark as far as their health [:

Melanie: I personally have had a lot of health issues and as of this point, I am not sure they are related to the donor. I have found some of them are from my mom's side,

Kendall and Corey: Hmm.

Melanie: but we do know the ADHD comes from the donor, so far about 70 percent of us turn out to be ADHD.

Kendall and Corey: Wow. Okay. Wow. Probably not something that he mentioned when he started donating.

Melanie: Or probably not something he knew.

e, even if people recognized [:

Melanie: Yes.

Kendall and Corey: Okay.

Melanie: Yes. Well, and part of it is my mother, is neurodivergent of her own. So I told my mom, I called my mom one day a couple of years ago and I said, I think I'm ADHD. And she said, no, everyone's like that.

Kendall and Corey: yeah, yeah,

Melanie: Like, well....

Kendall and Corey: yeah.

What do your parents think about you getting involved with your pod and now getting involved with advocacy?

ad passed away in February of:

Kendall and Corey: Oh, okay.

Melanie: So he, it was something we never really talked about. So my social dad, he had Klinefelter syndrome.

Kendall and Corey: Hmm mm-Hmm.

nfertile. And my parents got [:

Kendall and Corey: Hmm.

Melanie: So they were really lucky that my mom didn't herself experience fertility issues.

Kendall and Corey: right.

Melanie: Uh, this was the first donor that they chose. And my dad was our dad for all intents and purposes, but still wasn't super close with him. And I think he would have been very interested in it. And my mom thinks it's really fun. My mom thinks my nieces and nephews are also her grandkids.

Kendall and Corey: Oh, that's sweet.

Melanie: It's sweet, but it's also, I'm like, well,

Kendall and Corey: No, not really, not related. Right,

Melanie: not related, it's, a good sentiment.

to my biological father's ex [:

Melanie: That has, for me, been the best part of this entire experience is gaining family that I'm so connected to, even though we are still kind of strangers in a way. It's family that I don't know their childhood stories, and I don't know even their favorite colors.

Kendall and Corey: Right. Right.

ll feel so connected to them [:

Kendall and Corey: Right.

Melanie: I'm buying presents for nieces my family has expanded

12 times

Kendall and Corey: kidding. Yeah. Yeah. That's beautiful. Yeah. Wow. How many of your half siblings are getting into the advocacy side of things, and is your sister that you grew up

Melanie: So out of the 16 of us, there's 12 of us in a group chat.

Kendall and Corey: Okay. Oh, cool.

Melanie: There's still four that haven't really wanted to get in contact.

Kendall and Corey: Mm hmm.

Melanie: Um, and out of the 12, I would say there's like eight of us that are fairly active in the chat.

Kendall and Corey: Okay. Wow.

Melanie: [:

Kendall and Corey: Mm hmm.

Melanie: Didn't mean for that to happen, but I will accept the role happily.

Kendall and Corey: Yep. What does that entail? What are your duties as the matriarch of the pod?

Melanie: I made the spreadsheet.

Kendall and Corey: Okay. Yeah.

Melanie: I guess somehow I'm in charge of planning the vacation next year.

Kendall and Corey: Okay. Got it.

Melanie: Not fully in charge, but I'm kind of the person that everyone reaches out to when they have questions on anyone else or I seem to be the central, the most, um,

in it.

Kendall and Corey: Yeah. Yeah. Accessible. Yeah.

Melanie: Yeah, I'm also self employed and don't have kids. So I have a lot more free time

mand on our lives, you know. [:

Melanie: So we were talking about going back to, well, we were going to California. We were talking about maybe San Diego.

Kendall and Corey: Oh, so beautiful. Yeah.

Melanie: So somewhere West Coast, especially since there's so many of us that aren't near the West Coast,

Kendall and Corey: right?

Melanie: It seems easier there because half of us are already over there.

Kendall and Corey: Yeah, sure. Right.

Melanie: So it is a lot harder for the couple of us, especially the two in New York state that have kids to get out to California.

Kendall and Corey: right. Yeah. Yeah.

Melanie: warm, we've been kind of looking at Airbnb's, hotels, trying to figure out what the best option is.

Kendall and Corey: Yeah. Right. Right. Well, 12, if you could go en masse to knock on your biological father's door. Right. Yeah. Yeah. Guess

Melanie: So lives in Las Vegas

Kendall and Corey: Oh, okay. Close

s pretty cheap to fly to Las [:

Kendall and Corey: It sure is. Yeah. True.

Melanie: From almost anywhere.

Kendall and Corey: True. Yeah, I know. Yeah. It would, yes, it would be very tempting. There's more to this story. Right? Of course. Of course. Yeah.

Melanie: I am still holding out hope. So the thing about my biological father is he has said nothing. He hasn't said don't reach back out.

Kendall and Corey: Right. Okay. Well, there you go. That's a step. The door's got a crack. Yeah. You know.

Melanie: door hasn't been shut. hasn't been opened, but it hasn't been

Kendall and Corey: Right. Right. Yes. No. Maybe it's, maybe it's just unlocked. Not open, it's closed, but it's unlocked.

Melanie: The newest sister to join our pod, she's the oldest and she is so far the bravest of us and sent him an actual text message. And I thought that was, I was screaming,

Kendall and Corey: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Wow. But nothing back.

minutes away [:

Kendall and Corey: Ah. Okay. Yeah.

Melanie: And it's, how do you manage that type of feeling where it's I want a relationship with them, but they don't. That seems be something I'm struggling with.

ight, to expect it, but it's [:

know. You


Melanie: There's a lot more of us on 23andMe than Ancestry, I will say.

Kendall and Corey: Okay, that's good. Yeah, it's good to

Melanie: There's, I think, four of us on Ancestry and nine of us on 23andMe.

s. I think is the polite way [:

Melanie: hmm. That's something that I always tell people, I do highly recommend taking one of these tests, but be a little careful.

Kendall and Corey: Just, you got to understand that you might be getting some


Melanie: you do have to be prepared.

Kendall and Corey: it's not just finding out what percentage of Irish you are. It's right. You might have 16 siblings out there,

Melanie: I took it with the express purpose of finding siblings.

Kendall and Corey: right? Yes. Yeah.

Melanie: that so many of my siblings are finding out through taking the tests so I did mess up contact with one of them. I do have a half sister that shares my name. Her name is Melanie spelled the same way. Um, and what are the odds of that?

Kendall and Corey: Yeah. Wow.

unaware, and I may have said [:

Kendall and Corey: right. Yeah, right,

Melanie: I, having been told at such a young age, didn't even consider that my siblings parents wouldn't have told them.

out there and I want to know [:

Melanie: Every time I meet a new sibling, I want to say it gets easier each time, but it doesn't because it's so unique, but it's also so familiar.

Kendall and Corey: Mm. But yeah, you've got the biology there

Melanie: The genetic mirroring.

f me with my uncle, Sean, my [:

Melanie: Do you guys do comparisons like that?

Kendall and Corey: Oh, yeah. Yeah. It's so. And in fact, it's funny. I feel like I look more like uncle Sean than uncle Sean's three kids, my cousins, look him, they look more like their mom. And growing up as an adoptee with no biological connection to either side of the family, you're like, who do I look like? I don't really look like any of these people, but you could line Kendall up in the middle and have his six siblings on either side of them and see the similarities going down the line on each direction. Yeah. Yeah.

Melanie: That has been something that has been so much fun because having a full sister

Kendall and Corey: Mm-Hmm.

Melanie: and having that genetic sample size of two and then increasing it to 16

Kendall and Corey: Yep.

Melanie: and [:

Kendall and Corey: wow.

Melanie: My sister takes after my mom's family a lot more than I do.

Kendall and Corey: Okay. Yeah.

Melanie: And I do think that's one of the reasons that she never felt the need to seek other family,

Kendall and Corey: Mm-Hmm? . Mm-Hmm. , right?

Melanie: she had genetic mirroring,

Kendall and Corey: Yeah. Right. Yeah.

Melanie: I didn't see myself in that family. And so it is really crazy because there's maybe half of us out of the 16 that half of us look like me and then the other half looked more like my sister and it is kind of interesting, but we do all have the cheekbones.

story, really. And thank you [:

Melanie: So we have talked about as a sibling pod working on our own podcast.

Kendall and Corey: Cool. Awesome.

Melanie: We have a running title of From Strangers to Siblings. And it's kind of just us getting to know each other as I think siblings should, like, I wanna know their favorite color and some of their childhood dramas.

r eyes started to get opened [:

Melanie: Also at the protest in New Orleans, I mean, there is less than 20 of us. It was a pretty small gathering, but it was powerful in its own right, meeting so many people with such unique shared experiences. And then meeting I mean, there's so many more of us out there that have no clue, no concept. And then the more people I talk to about this, just clients of mine, friends. Anyone I meet, I'll tell my story to whoever, and no one is even aware of this side of the community.

s but, it's eye opening when [:

Melanie: that is exactly how I feel. I think the science of donor conception is absolutely amazing. but the way they're doing it right now is kind of a scam.

Kendall and Corey: Right? You're Exactly. Exactly. Very true. Well, I don't know if Laura has begun planning her next protest or whether or not it's going to be in New Orleans, but, if we can make absolutely be there.


Melanie: the word I've heard is it's in Denver in October next year,

Kendall and Corey: Oh. Okay.

Melanie: but it's still

. We'll actually be in Denver[:

Melanie: that's

Kendall and Corey: yeah, so I'm, I'm really looking forward to it. So yes, what a great group and doing important work. Yeah. So yeah, if we can still spread that news, we definitely

Melanie: Yeah.

Kendall and Corey: Absolutely.

Melanie: finished that podcast this

morning, that episode.

Kendall and Corey: Yep. Yep.

Melanie: So that was definitely fascinating. I'm going to look into that agency a lot more.

Kendall and Corey: is amazing. They're doing some really, really cool stuff. Yeah. Yeah. We're trying to spread awareness about them for sure. Yeah. Cool. Excellent. Well, Melanie, thank you so much for being with us.

Melanie: Thank you guys.