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Updated: Mar 29

My name given at birth was Danielle. My dad’s name is Daniel, but my mom said she saw the name of an author, Danielle Steel, and thought it was pretty, and that is where she got it from. (Dad says it was after him, so I’ll let them argue that one out. 😉) I’ve been waiting over 5 weeks to write this email, because I really didn’t know how to tell the story of my #JerrySpringerLife (turns out it’s more of a Maury episode, but you’ll get the point)

The irony of being named after Danielle Steel is that, she is the reason I found out, “The Awful Truth”

When I was 13 years old, I decided to read a Danielle Steel book… because… my name!



The book I stumbled across was called Mixed Blessings, it was a story of three couples and their quests to have children and their struggles with mixed families, pregnancy, and infertility. (a bit deep for a 13 year old, but whatever)

My dad was driving me to gymnastics one night and I was telling him about the infertility stories in the book, and out of nowhere, he just blurts out:

“You know I’m not your real dad, right?”

Gulp. “What?”

I felt my face getting hot.

My first thought was, “Am I adopted?” but I said nothing… He went on to explain that he got mumps as a child and was sterile. Mom and dad really wanted kids, so they went to a clinic where they had learned about artifical insemination and I was “most likely” the product of a sperm donor.

Then he dropped me off at my 4-hour practice…. bye! When I got home from gymnastics, I started crying and went into my mom’s room and woke her up saying, “Mom! Is dad my real dad?!”

She sat up quickly, “What?”

I told her what dad told me in the car and she sternly told me,

“Go to your room.”

shit.

My mom was visibly upset when she eventually came into my room. First thing she told me, was that I was never supposed to find out. She was furious at my dad for telling me the truth, but she tried to sugar coat the situation by telling me “possibly” dad was stll my biological father because they weren’t using birth control. She said she had no records of the donor, no name, no characteristics, and no doctor or clinic name.

Everything I had believed to be true about my life, my family, and WHO I WAS… was a LIE.

Cousins that I loved and thought that we shared characteristics, I wasn’t even related to! I had never really thought that I looked like either one of my parents, but now… NOW… I don’t even know who I looked like!

I sat in front of the mirror the next morning and cried.

Who’s nose was this? Who’s freckles were these? Who’s teeth? Who’s eyes?

I was angry! Maybe, if my parents couldn’t have kids, then God didn’t want them to have kids! I shouldn’t even be here!

And my donor… who was he?

…Some homeless, drug-addict, who was just jerking off for money?

Gross. I was the product of a dirty, anonymous, drug-addicted fiend who got paid to masturbate and I should have never been born. UGH.

Once I found “The Awful Truth” the topic was NEVER spoken about again…

Until February, this year


PART 2


#dna #artificialinsemination

Updated: Mar 29



If you haven’t yet read my email about learning “The Awful Truth” please do so first…

Once I learned about how I “got here”, I went through a major depressive episode for a week. I felt gross, I felt as if I shouldn’t have ever existed and I thought that I was the product of some disgusting science experiment.

The topic was never brought up again, but over the years my dad would make comments here and there, like, “You have the Leavitt (my last name) thighs” or some characteristic that was “from the Leavitt side” and I knew it was bullshit.

It would make me cringe hearing those comments. It made me sad, because it was if him saying it, would make it true.

In February this year, I was visiting mom and dad, and my mom randomly asks about my nationality. She says that grandma told her we were seven nationalities.

I laughed and just said we were a mix of ugly white people and nothing special, but she said,

“Didn’t you do a DNA test?”

Well indeed I did!

Back in 2013, I did the 23andme DNA test because I was looking for some health information on a blood disorder (and curious about other health risks)

I decided to log in so I could tell mom just what nationalities we were, when I saw a *new* link:

DNA RELATIVES SHARE & COMPARE

and as soon as I clicked it, I saw this message…


Clicking “Continue” changed everything….

The next thing I saw were two names and next to their names:

HALF-SISTER

Gulp.

I start turning red. My mom is looking over my shoulder. Our eyes are wide and she quickly whispers,

“Your brother still doesn’t know”

.

.

.

HO-LY SHIT.

After some quick stalking, one sister was born in the same area as me… it’s not a fluke. Who are they? Are they his kids? Are they sperm-donor babies too?

There were also two cousins, who were related to me through the sisters.

I decided to message all of them… and wait.

I flew to New York City to celebrate my best friends book launch AND my birthday, March 2. The evening of my birthday, I receive a Facebook message from one of the cousins… “Hi Danny. I saw you on 23andme and I figured I would message you here. Happy Birthday! I think I know who you’re looking for!”

OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG is this really happening?!

We chatted for a few minutes and indeed, her mom’s uncle had been donating sperm back in the 80’s and she said he would be thrilled to chat with me… WHAT?!

TALK TO HIM?!?

This is so weird. What do you even say?!

“Uhm… Hi.. this is what happened when you jerked off that one time… SURPRISE!”

I fell on the ground and started crying hysterically.

This was a real guy.

He’s not homeless or an addict. He wants to talk to me! What the actual hell?!

IS THIS REAL LIFE?!

After an hour or so I decided to call him. Bruce.

I found out he was 75 years old and he had been donating for over 15 years! He told me that he started to ask the nurses if they “got any” (pregnant) and he stopped counting after 80!

OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG

The two half-sisters were donor babies too! Heck, maybe half of the bay-area were his kids.. LOLLLOOOLLL!

We spoke for nearly an hour and I learned so much. He was kind, funny, and genuinely interested in hearing my story.

Next thing I know, he sends me a message from my website, “Hey Bio-Girl… it was nice to chat with you”

Hey Bio-Girl?!

I’m definitely calling him Sperm Dad. (LOL!!)

Slowly a sister replied. Then another. Then a brother from ancestry.com found me… then we found a few more..

My new found (and growing) siblings created our own Facebook group and decided that we needed to meet.

Early August, I took a train to New York City to meet 3 of the (so far) 10 known half-siblings… and I took a video of the day leading up to it… ENJOY (then check out the next part of this series)




Updated: Mar 29

I swear there was a reason for telling you all about my “Sperm Dad” in the last two posts and I tell you all of that to tell you THIS:

YOU CAN REWRITE YOUR STORY.

I am often asked, “Danny, how the heck have you turned out so positive after so much craziness in your life?”

Well first off, just know that I am a completely different person than I was years ago.

I spent many decades years suffering from low self-esteem, crippling depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts attempts.

I learned a lot of coping mechanisms and strategies through counseling, books and good old trial and error.

One thing I am big on, is being able to reframe or rewrite your story.

Things happen to us or around us and our mind works very hard to interpret these things and we create meaning out of them.

For instance, when I found out that my biological father was a sperm donor, I chose to believe THE WORST…

That he was a homeless, drug-addict, jerking off for money and then created a belief around that story that *I* was somehow unworthy.

When I was around 19 years old, I somehow got into a conversation with a young man and for whatever reason, I brought up the story of my sperm donor (he was literally the only person I had ever mentioned it to, up until that point) and guess what he said?

“Wow! That is SO cool!” “Do you know how hard it is to become a donor? They only take the best of the best. You have to be very smart to be able to donate”

WAIT… WHAT?! All this time I believed I had an addict and now I’m hearing that I might be *a genius* (LOL)

But… wait…. this was seriously a new perspective.

“Really?” I said.

“Yeah. It’s really hard to get in as a donor. They test you and have a lot of requirements”

THIS NEWS CHANGED EVERYTHING.

The reality was, nothing changed… but my belief about MYSELF changed.

When I was younger, I was in the gifted programs. I learned to read when I was 4 years old. I was always excellent in school and I had a nearly photographic memory for dates.

Hmmm… maybe my biological dad was smart! Maybe I wasn’t a piece of trash after all…

The reality, after meeting Bruce probably fell somewhere in the middle, to be honest… but what was more important was that the story I CHOSE TO BELIEVE would either empower me or cripple me.

We each have “stories” in our lives that we cling to, to make sense of things, and my question to you is:

“Are your stories empowering or crippling you?”

One of the exercises I had my ladies in #LifeAF do (and we will do more of at the Live Event in Las Vegas)

Is how to reframe and rewrite your story.

Reframing the beliefs I held about my past helped me cope and actually see myself in a completely different light. I believe we ALL have some stories that we have clung to, that aren’t serving us and may be keeping us stuck in some way…

Maybe yours is about why your parents split when you were young.

Maybe it’s about why you can never lose weight/get healthy/change your body. Maybe it’s about one of your relationships and why your partner left you/cheated on you/hurt you.

Maybe it’s about why you can never make more money/get a better job/leave your town.

I’m going to ask you to do an exercise for me:

What is one story that you tell (to yourself or others) that has been possibly keeping you stuck in an area that you no longer want to feel trapped in?

DOWNLOAD this worksheet and I would love for you to reply with your insights, ahas, or what you learned about yourself after doing it.



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