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Sperm Donor Siblings

What happens when sperm donors’ children meet their extended family?

Sperm Donor Siblings

“I have two moms”, my son, O, informed me recently. O is four-and-a-half years old and knows we are different from other families, and he’s okay with that. At this stage, I don’t delve too much into our origin story, but I do occasionally ask him whether he has a Dad. “No, I have a Mommy and a Baba,” he replies, with a shrug and smile.

What my son and 14-month old daughter may not realize is while they don’t have a Dad, they are paternally connected to an entire family spread far across the country. My kids have Donor Families – “half-brothers and sisters” born from women who have used the same sperm donor to conceive.

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My partner and I used a well-known cryobank to start our family. After rigorous review, we found someone who most closely resembled me, as my wife would be the one carrying our children. We took into account baby photos, audio samples, and even pictures showing the donor’s celebrity look-alikes. But the one feature that proved the most impactful was the Sibling Registry -- something I never thought I would use, let alone value.

Our journey to parenthood was such a long and winding one that I never imagined wanting to share that experience – or our children – with anyone outside of our close families. But when O finally arrived, we were so happy, that we joined the registry on the cryobank website and proudly reported that our pregnancy had come to fruition. Not long after, we received a message from a fellow Donor Mom and were eventually introduced to two more families who used the same sperm donor as us. It was a mind-expanding experience, to say the least.

From there on out, we not only had the support of our own families, we also had parents who could answer questions about chronic ear infections, croup and tantrum in such a personal way. Their kids shared DNA with ours, and without a paternal family to reference, these families were a way to learn about the health and habits of our own kids.

Despite the fact that our children were born into four completely different genetic families and live in different environments, they share some personality traits and an undeniable biology, which is both amazing and, if I’m being honest, a little freaky.

Our extended family is filled with strong-willed, adventurous, and loving children with an impish streak and effortless ability to make you laugh. Over four and a half years, I have watched them grow up via social media, shared holiday cards, traded war stories, and celebrated milestones with their parents. One day, we may even get the four families together. It would be amazing to witness first-hand nature versus nurture and see what happens when our two willful, adventurous spirits are mixed with more of the same.

To O and his sister, these children are members of their growing family. We don’t harp too much on semantics and don’t talk about “siblings” for now. But they know that they share a connection with them and that they are important people in our lives. When O and S are older, they’ll have the chance to be in direct contact with their half siblings. They may lean on each other as they grow up and grapple with not having or knowing their paternal parent. When they turn of age, they may even band together to reach out to the donor and see what happens next.

Right now, I don’t know how their connections might strengthen and grow. With the four oldest kids being pre-school age, it’s too early to tell. But I do know that we’ll have open lines of communication to provide our children a link to their biology and history -- the missing puzzle pieces of their identity.

As of me… Well, I never imagined sharing my most intimate and vulnerable parenting experience with strangers. So the fact that I not only know, but also consider myself close with the other donor families is unbelievable. My experience may not be the norm, but I’m lucky to have such cool, interesting moms in my life as a support group and friends.

Photo courtesy of Brianne Croteau.

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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