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Siblings Find Each Other On Website

sperm travelling towards an egg'As they get older you start to think, `What did I do?'

Every year thousands of children are born as a result of sperm donation and despite a change of law, which now gives children the right to know who their biological father is, many never will.

Industry experts estimate that in the US 30,000 babies a year are born with the help of sperm bank donors. Exact figures are not available because inseminated mothers don't have to report births to the banks.

The non-profit American Society of Reproductive Medicine recommends no one donor be used to father more than 25 children. That's a possible 25 siblings a child may not know they have and while it is not uncommon to find more than one half-sibling, in one case parents discovered close to 45 children.

Now a new website is helping children born from sperm donation to find their siblings. Wendy Kramer, founded after she learned accidentally from the sperm bank she used that her son, Ryan, had siblings.

'It started with one e-mail message,' said Wendy, who called her site 'a community for half-siblings. It's essentially strangers meeting, yet at the same time you're more related to them than anyone else.'

The Website has 6,758 members and more than 2,500 sibling matches have been made since it was created in 2000.

Whilst parents may feel that the site is a useful tool to trace medical conditions that siblings may share, for the brothers and sisters who find each other the value of the site is immeasurable.

'I never thought about siblings at the time when I (used a donor),' said Mia Lentz, who used the registry to find her son Brandon's siblings last June. 'As they get older you start to think, `What did I do?'

Sharon Lightman-King, 43, who runs two businesses, credits the registry with bringing her daughter, Hunter, and her daughter's half-brother, Isaiah, together and was glad that there was no resistance on either side.

The Website paid for Sharon to go to Iowa so Hunter could meet Isaiah.

'As soon as she saw him, she said, `that's my brother, and his whole family just hugged and embraced us,' said Sharon.

Now, Hunter is quick to share photos of her little brother who, like her, is mixed-race and who shares her brown skin and almond-shaped eyes. They're planning to see each other over another school break.

'We e-mail Monday through Friday,' she says. 'If a few days go by without an e-mail, we're e-mailing the other asking `What happened?'

Not all parents will welcome the prospect of siblings getting together, there will be many who choose not to tell their children they were conceived by sperm donation and some who will resent the intrusion into their family life. But when those children do find out their birth stories will be there to help them find their brothers and sisters.

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