Ontario resident Carlie McMaster says she submitted her DNA to Ancestry.com in 2019 to learn more about the paternal side of the family after her death.
The 28-year-old resident of Brantford, Ont., said she just wanted to know more about her family’s medical history when she made the life-changing discovery.
The website matched his genetic information to a Minnesota woman named Rylee Hall, and they began discussing how they might be related.
“I didn’t really talk too much when Rylee first reached out because I just didn’t really know. I just kind of questioned everything… It was a shock,” McMaster told CTV News Toronto on Monday.
“I think it was four months later that I finally contacted Instagram again and said, let’s maybe try to dig in and figure it out.”
By this point, she says, she and Hall were talking frequently and discovering unique similarities — their mannerisms, the distinctive blue ring around their hazel eyes, and their musical background.
They eventually learned that the similarities were no coincidence, as McMaster and Hall shared a biological father and both were conceived through donated sperm.
“I was shocked at first. I think I questioned my identity a lot, but also I was really excited to have that connection at the same time,” McMaster said.
“I had to accept the fact that the father I grew up with was not my biological father, but also that I have this new connection.”
Hall said the sibling connection didn’t come as a huge shock to her because her mother told her she was conceived through sperm donation a year before taking the test.
“I knew there was potential to meet siblings,” the 27-year-old American told CTV News Toronto on Monday. “So I wasn’t in shock when the news was confirmed.”
The siblings say they are grateful to have met.
“For me, it’s just about winning someone who I know is kind of here for life. It’s just such a strong bond that we share,” McMaster said.
Their story took another turn when they decided it was time to search for their “donor father”. Hall said she managed to find him on Facebook after connecting with other parents on ancestry websites.
“He messaged me after I added him,” Hall said.
“Which was good because it was kind of confirmation that he wanted to talk. We’re not forcing him, which was good,” McMaster added.
The siblings said they now speak with their birth father, a Toronto resident, at least once a week.
“He’s been very supportive of us already,” McMaster said. “He’s been really great so far and he’s just a super cool dude.”
They said that in the early 1990s, their biological father was donating to Canadian Blood Services, where he was a regular platelet donor, when he noticed an advertisement asking people to help families who can’t have children.
“On the papers my parents got, there was a question, ‘would you be open to meeting any offspring,’ and he ticked ‘yes,'” Hall said.
Hall said she plans to visit Ontario for the second time at the end of August. The sisters say they will also meet their biological father in person for the first time.
The sisters say they found out they knew three other siblings. The other siblings, they said, are all female and were born in the mid-1990s in Canada.
Hall and McMaster said that while they’re excited to meet new siblings, they’re very careful about how they approach potential siblings because they don’t want to give away the information prematurely.
“It kind of depends on the other person and whether they’re open to having siblings, because some people probably don’t want to deal with that at all,” Hall said.
The sisters are launching a new podcast on Monday called “Our Dad Is A Giver.” The podcast will dive into their experiences and discuss the stories of others who were conceived through sperm donations and found out the truth later in life.