A lesbian couple have spoken out after finding out that their five children have 43 more siblings fathered by the same sperm donor.
Brisbane couple Shannon Ashton and Lisa Quinn have five children, aged one to 15, all born via the same sperm donor, an anonymous Australian surfer.
The pair looked into the issue after realising another child with lesbian parents in her son’s daycare group shared their same genetic father.
Anonymous sperm donor had 48 children
After seeking records for the Queensland Fertility Group sperm donor, Ashton discovered that he had fathered a total of 48 children.
Speaking to the Daily Mail Australia, she said: “I was shocked, mindblown actually. I thought those things were better regulated and I knew there were guidelines.”
Newer guidelines typically restrict sperm donors to donating to 10 women spread out over a large geographic region, but there were fewer restrictions in place when the couple secured the donor for their first pregnancy.
Ashton explained that sperm donors for same-sex couples were not easy to find when she had her first child, meaning many couples used the same clinic.
She told the newspaper: “It was word of mouth, in the lesbian community (…) at that stage there was only one [clinic], and that’s where you went.
“So it’s very easy how this would’ve happened because there was a shortage of donors at the time.”
Having unknown siblings could lead to awkward future relationships
Although the couple’s older kids were not upset by the revelation, Ashton told the newspaper that she worried about their future relationships with so many unknown half-siblings potentially nearby.
She said: “They know they’ll always have to be aware. There can’t be any accidental situations, they have to do their research with their partners.
“They know that they’re five of 48. It’s a real risk they they can come across, particularly since we come from a same-sex family they’re going to be drawn to people from similar backgrounds because they have common interests.
“I think it’s a very hairy issue.”
The real-life development is similar to Australian comedy series Sisters, which features a woman who discovers her father was secretly a sperm donor who fathered hundreds of children.