There's a pretty good chance that every single one of you has felt the emotional wreckage of heartbreak at some point in your life. The only thing that makes losing someone you love even greater is to experience that loss with your child. When this mother's life was turned upside down, she did everything she could to keep things together for her daughter. Little did she know, the one thing that was going to bring it all together, in the end, was the one thing that she had been avoiding for her daughter's entire life.
But soon after joining the job market, Jessica realized that she wanted to go back to school to get her Ph.D. After enrolling in the program, Jessica began to feel like there was something missing from her life.
All in all, Jessica was content with her life, but like many others, Jessica soon understood that what she was missing was a family. After a while, the opportunity for Jessica to grow was finally within reach.
Things moved very quickly for the couple, and before they could even realize what was happening, they were in full baby mode. They were a bit excited about their future and they felt comfortable having way more than one child. But after a bit of talking, they decided that their comfort level ended at four children, actually. They even picked out the names of the two boys and two girls that they were planning to have.
When they began to consider their options, the couple immediately decided against adoption. They felt that it was important to them that at least one of them was truly related to the child, at least for the first few children that they had.
Jessica quickly shut down the suggestion. When she was in college, Jessica took a course about gay and lesbian legal rights. During that course, she learned that more often than not, courts choose to side with the “known” donor if the donor should attempt to get custody of the child. Her opinion was also driven by the horror stories that she had heard about children being ripped from their loving homes to live with the “known” donors, who they barely knew.
So, their next viable option was to go to a sperm bank to look for a donor. This way, they were able to find a donor that would perfectly suit all of their needs. Essentially, they would be able to handpick their child’s genes, which is pretty perfect when only one of you can be related biologically.
Needless to say, they had a huge task on their hands. Finding a donor wasn’t going to be easy, but after a bit of searching and a lot of patience, they finally found the perfect bank.
Every single donor was required to sign paperwork that legally bound them from attempting to get custody of any child born from their donation. The arrangement was exactly what Jessica and her partner had been looking for.
The big question was: which one of them was going to carry their first born child? After taking their everyday lives into account, they realized that the answer was obvious. Since Jessica was currently working on her doctoral thesis from home, and her partner was working full-time outside of the home, it only made sense for Jessica to carry the baby.
The bank that they were using had hundreds of donors to choose from, so they had to figure out how to narrow it down. They figured that since Jessica was going to be the biological mother, then they should choose a donor who had traits like her partner. Once they narrowed it down that way, their search quickly came to an end.
Just like Jessica’s partner, he liked sports, he studied literature and he had brown wavy hair. In his profile, the donor stated that he was a taxi-driving writer. In an interview with BBC, Jessica explained that she loved thinking about him collecting stories from his cab, “readying to write the Great American Novel.”
Even with a talented, knowledgeable doctor, there are a number of things that could go wrong at any given time. For example, once the sperm has been unfrozen, it’s only “good” for 24 hours. Also, if the timing is wrong and there isn’t an egg for the sperm to find, then they have to start all over again once the woman takes a pregnancy test and realizes that she’s not pregnant. It goes without saying that the process can be heartbreaking and exhausting.
As each week passed, they began to wonder if they would ever be able to have a child. Jessica describes this period of her life as “solemn.” But finally, after months of trying and failing, they had reached the day that they had been waiting for.
Despite having so much trouble conceiving, the pregnancy went as smoothly as anyone could ever hope for. Soon enough, Jessica and her partner were on their way to the hospital to deliver their little miracle.
Jessica described the birth of her daughter as “perfect,” and Alice’s parents were immediately in love with the new little human. In fact, they fell so in love with Alice that they immediately started talking about having another baby! But while Jessica’s partner was thinking about adding another member to their growing family, Jessica’s mind was elsewhere.
Eventually, after realizing that Alice might actually want to know her father, Jessica began to think about contacting the donor. But when she brought the issue up to her partner, the woman became extremely upset. The idea of allowing any of their children to meet their donor was infuriating to her partner. In the end, Jessica couldn’t help but agree with her partner when she said: “Love makes a family.”
Now that the tables had turned it was finally time for her partner to be blessed with carrying a child. Since it was essentially the same situation, Jessica’s partner was looking at the same risks that Jessica had gone through when she experienced AI, but at least they had one thing figured out this time: the donor.
Luckily, they were able to use the same one and the pregnancy went by just as smoothly as Jessica’s. Soon enough, it was time for the family to welcome another little girl into the world.
Immediately, Jessica and her partner began to look for similarities between the sisters. In fact, it became a “fun pastime” for them to pick out which similarities the sisters shared, but didn't come from their mothers. It was quickly realized that the girls were going to be tall, just like their donor. And according to Jessica, they also shared “long, thin mouths, small noses, electric eyes that look like emeralds underwater, and impeccable vocabularies.” Everything seemed perfect, but like it so often does, everything fell apart.
Out of the blue, Jessica’s partner ended their relationship. Jessica said: “There had been no conflict in our family, so I was shocked and heartbroken,” but her partner said that she didn’t want to talk about it and there was “nothing [Jessica] could do.” But regardless of what was going on in her relationship, Jessica knew that she needed to pull it together.
Considering that their daughters were only three and one at the time, Jessica and her partner needed to find out how to co-parent with one another. For seven years, the ex-couple successfully switched spending time with their girls. But then one day, everything changed.
In 2015, Jessica’s ex took Alice’s sister on vacation...by herself, which was odd to Jessica. But even though she felt that it was weird that her ex didn’t invite her, there really wasn’t anything that she could do about it. Sadly, Jessica’s gut instincts proved to be right on point.
When Jessica’s ex returned from her trip, things got even worse for Jessica and her daughter. According to Jessica, she “blocked Alice [and I] on her phone, cut off all contact with her, and refused to return her younger sister.” No matter how much Jessica fought her ex to see Alice, she wouldn’t budge. Unfortunately, Jessica and Alice were left alone to sort through the heartbreak of losing Alice’s sister.
Surprisingly, the emotional distress didn’t end with Jessica’s ex taking away Alice’s sister. Ever since 2015, Alice hasn’t received so much as a phone call from her other parent. For obvious reasons, Jessica became furious with her ex, but she also became worried about how Alice was dealing with the loss of one of her mothers and her sister. “Alice spends her days dreaming of the sister she was raised with and who she is afraid she will never see again,” said Jessica.
One year later, Alice asked her grandparents if they would get her a 23andMe DNA kit for Christmas. Believing that she had the right to know where she came from, Alice’s grandparents made sure that there was a DNA kit for her underneath the tree on Christmas morning. After opening the gift, Alice and her mother never even thought to think that it could change their lives forever.
Eight weeks after Alice sent the kit to the company to be tested, she received her results. Of course, there were the normal results about her heritage, like what countries her family comes from, but then she noticed a section labeled “DNA Relatives.” On the first line, were the words: “Aaron Long: 50%. Father.” When Alice looked at the next line, she read: “Bryce Gallo: 25%. Half-brother.” At that moment, Jessica realized that she had been right all along.
Jessica immediately knew that she had been right about Alice needing her father. Without giving it a second thought, Jessica began to search for Aaron Long. As you can imagine there are “a lot of Aaron Longs in the world.” First off, Jessica knew the donor’s general age because of how old he was when he donated to the bank. She also knew that she was looking for a book lover and a musician because the donor mentioned that he was trumpet player from Seattle, who majored in literature. After a while, Jessica was able to narrow down the results.
Finally, Jessica found an Aaron Long on Facebook that seemed to match all of the criteria. As she was looking through his profile, all of her doubts went out the window when she saw one of his old school pictures. “There was no doubt. My daughters make that stupid face,” said Jessica. For obvious reasons, Jessica didn’t know how to move forward. But there was one thing that was for certain, she absolutely needed to reach out to him.
Jessica decided to send Aaron a message through the DNA website that they received their results from. In the message, Jessica wrote: “Hi Aaron, I actually have two daughters who’d match you (my ex has my youngest daughter; she’s not on the DNA testing site). If you’re interested in trading family photos, etc., we’re available.” After looking the message over once more, Jessica clicked send and began to hope for the best.
Apparently, she had done something right because Aaron wrote back right away. After exchanging messages for a little while, Jessica asked Aaron if he was the shortest person in his family, just like Alice was. “I already knew the answer. He was,” said Jessica. The two long-distance strangers decided to become friends on Facebook so they could get to know one another. It wasn’t long before Jessica understood that there was a huge decision that she needed to make.
Then one day, Aaron sent Jessica a 50-page “story” about the history of his life. In just a few short days, Jessica had already “devoured it.” She had become fascinated by all of the interesting details of Aaron’s life, which more often than not, perfectly aligned with Alice’s life. In fact, he had even spent several years in their hometown playing in a band. Jessica began to wonder, “How many times had we walked past him in the supermarket?” For the first time, Jessica began to seriously think about inviting Aaron into their lives, but she wanted to reach out to someone else first.
Jessica decided that she would reach out to the other name on the DNA test before she attempted to allow Aaron into their vulnerable family unit. Bryce Gallo was a 20-year-old college graduate, who just so happened to be Alice’s half-brother. After exchanging a few messages, Jessica realized that Bryce was going to be very helpful in helping her make her decision. Bryce, who had also found Aaron through the DNA website, had been doing some investigative work of his own. By the time that Bryce was contacted by Jessica, he had already found another half-sister, 19-year-old Madi. Once Jessica realized that there could be even more of Aaron’s children out there, they decided to do a bit of digging.
After a while, Jessica realized that she needed to invite Aaron into her family, after all, she had just lost so much. Soon enough, an opportunity to move forward presented itself. Bryce and Madi informed Jessica that they were planning a trip to Seattle to meet Aaron, and they asked if Jessica and Alice wanted to join them. Knowing that they all needed to meet, Jessica agreed. But before she could get too excited, Alice needed a bit of convincing.
While Alice was happy to be able to find out where she came from, she was still “grieving the loss of her sister.” Losing someone you love is painful, and it can cause a lot of trust issues, so it wasn’t going to be easy for young Alice to bring people into her life without being a little hesitant. But she was pretty curious to find out whether her new family members looked or acted like her, so eventually, she told Jessica that she wanted to go on the trip.
It could have been an extremely awkward and uncomfortable meeting, but Aaron handled the situation in the best way possible. For starters, he had a massive “Meet My Children” party for pretty much everyone that he had ever known. Not only did he invite his old college and high school buddies, but he also invited his ex-girlfriends and their children. It was clear that the people in Aaron’s life really enjoyed being there. “They would all camp on the roof and celebrate meeting his biological children. I quickly learned that Aaron does not have a single friend he wouldn’t welcome back into his fold,” said Jessica.
Jessica and Alice’s trip only continued to get better over the next week. On one of the nights in Seattle, the three siblings played “nature or nurture,” a game where they revealed just how much they were like their biological father. Aaron loved being around all of the kids, and Jessica was grateful to be a part of a family again. Not only did they get to go on a road trip to an arts festival, but Bryce, Alice, and Madi were really able to bond throughout the whole trip.
A few months before Jessica left for Seattle, she began dating another man named Aaron. Even though she was seeing someone, Jessica simply couldn’t deny that there was some sort of chemistry between her and Alice’s father, and he noticed it, as well. In fact, since he and Jessica’s boyfriend shared the same name, Aaron flirted that there had to have been a mistake at the “Bureau of Boyfriends.” But even though there was definitely something there, Jessica went home to her boyfriend.
In typical fashion for those looking for a change, things started to turn south soon after Jessica returned home, and their relationship ended just a few weeks later. It was as if Jessica couldn’t think about anything other than the trip to Seattle. In an interview with BBC, Jessica said: “I found myself wondering if my children’s person could also be my person, and if Seattle was a place for us to land while we figured it out.” After a while, Jessica began to weigh the pros and cons of moving to Seattle, and before long, she decided that it was the best thing to do. After all, as soon as she met his exes at the party, she knew that they could work through anything that was put in front of them. Before they knew it, Jessica and Alice were living in Seattle, and Aaron was asking Jessica out on their first date.
After a long walk throughout Aaron’s neighborhood, the pair ended up at the local cemetery, where they talked about DNA and how big of a role it played in their lives. They also talked about their individual hopes and dreams, the kids, and their pasts. After a while, Jessica realized that they had very similar pasts, and their dreams for the future intertwined, as well. It was that night that Jessica knew that her “child’s person” was “her person,” as well. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Aaron shared the same feelings as Jessica, and from that moment on, the couple has been sharing their lives together.
After a wild introduction to Aaron, Alice and Jessica finally moved in with him in the summer of 2017. And then, shortly after settling in, Madi left the east coast to join her newfound family in Seattle. Bryce, on the other hand, is serving overseas with the United States Air Force. Just one year after Madi moved in, Aaron’s mother and her cat, Bill, joined in, as well! Jessica, who is more than happy with all of the new changes, said: “Families are built on love, not genes. Being open to that love is what ultimately makes a family. Everyone can be welcomed and stay in the fold. There is room for many different kinds of relationships.”
Once Alice and Jessica moved to Seattle, the family sat down together to look for more of Aaron’s donor children. It didn’t take long for them to find Emily Jacobs and her mother Marcia, who lived only about an hour away. While Alice is enjoying a new sister closer to her age, Jessica has become an incredible step-mother. “They are the siblings of my children, the genetic aunts and uncles of my grandchildren. I don’t parent them, but I feel inexplicably drawn toward feeding them.”
Luckily, the family has a large enough property to accommodate having a large family. And after doing some math, they may just need to expand the walls of their home a bit. After doing their research, the family estimates that Aaron could have as many as 67 more donor children in the world! Keep everyone posted, Jessica and Aaron, we’re dying to meet the rest of the kids!