PHOENIX - Family takes on a whole new meaning when it’s created with the help of a sperm donor.
One Valley mom is on a mission trying to connect with her daughter’s half siblings -- all of them are from the same sperm donor dad.
Nearly 50,000 people are registered on The Donor Sibling Registry website.
That includes egg and sperm donors, parents and donor conceived children, including one in North Phoenix.
“In 1997, my partner and I at the time decided to have a child,” Maureen Lombardo said.
She said they elected to go with an anonymous sperm donor.
“I got lucky on the second try,” she said. “In December of 1997, we conceived and in August, Talia was born.”
For years, she never gave any thought about the biological dad that was until a few years ago, after watching the movie “Delivery Man,” where actor Vince Vaughn plays a man who fathered more than 500 children through sperm donation. It’s not something that can only happen in a Hollywood movie.
“The largest group of half siblings that we have is somewhere around 200,” said Wendy Kramer, co-founder and director of The Donor Sibling Registry, which helps connect the kids of sperm donors and in some cases, can also connect them with the biological father.
“This kind of curiosity is healthy,” Kramer said. “It’s okay to search and it’s okay to connect.”
Sperm donors remain anonymous, but they are assigned a specific ID number. All their offspring receive the same number in their file and those looking to reunite enter that number into the registry, leading to a match. But if the number isn’t available, they can use other methods to find donor relatives.
Kramer's son was the first one on the registry. After seven years, he met his three half sisters.
“It’s very emotional and it’s a profound experience, because you’re looking at these people who look like your child,” Kramer said.
Lombardo's daughter Talia goes to Pinnacle High School and has wanted to meet her siblings.
“Yeah that would be great,” she said.
“Talia is high functioning autistic and she has a lot of really cool things going on in her future,” her mom said. “I don’t think there’s a genetic thing, but I was kind of curious, are any other families having this other path or are their kids of typical function.”
When they searched the registry, they found a match.
“I actually found our donor and this one is half Italian, half English, curly brown hair and blue eyes,” Lombardo said. “I already found that there were seven other children from that donor.”
She’s been able to connect with only one. He lives in Arizona.
“A half brother,” Talia said. “That was so cool really!”
“When I first saw the picture of Talia’s sibling, I choked up a bit. It was just really cool,” her mom said.
“I totally see a resemblance," Lombardo said. "I see a similar smile, I see a similar chin line."
While the half brother’s family has been open to communicating through email, they are not ready for a face-to-face meeting just yet.
“Which I totally respect, I get that,” Lombardo said. “Our life is wonderful and full and it’s as it is and this would just add more seasoning to a fun mix.”
For now, they’re happy just knowing Talia’s not an only child.
Half of the parents on the website are single mothers by choice, about a third of the parents on the site are LGBT and less than 20 percent are infertile couples using either donor sperm or donor egg.