N.S. woman meets half-sister thanks to DNA test
A Nova Scotia woman has finally met a half-sister that lives on the other side of the Atlantic.
Jennifer Salib-Huber grew up as an only child, but last spring her family circle expanded drastically when DNA testing connected her with several half-siblings she never previously knew existed.
All were conceived through a sperm donor.
“It was eye-opening in the most wonderful way to see these people that I looked like,” Salib-Huber told CTV Atlantic. “And we have kids around the same ages. To know that my kids now had cousins was really exciting.”
One of those half-siblings is Friedel Grant, who is currently visiting Salib-Huber from Holland, where she currently lives.
The two women were conceived via artificial insemination at the Dalhousie Fertility Clinic in the mid to late 1970s. Forty years ago, it was not common for parents to share such information with their children and no records were ever kept at the clinic. But before passing away more than 20 years ago, Grant’s mother revealed that she was donor-conceived. The revelation sparked a search that led her to half-sister Salib-Huber in Atlantic Canada.
“Last May, I did a (DNA) test and got the results back and I was shocked to discover that I had, at that time, one half-sister that I knew about,” Grant recalled. “And (I also had) enough clues that over the course of the next 10 days, my husband and I were able to figure out who the donor was. And then over the course of the rest of the summer, (I) discovered a whole group of new half-siblings.”
There are five siblings that the two women now know about through the 23andMe and AncestryDNA genealogical testing services -- but Grant and Salib-Huber believe that there could be even more.
“So if anybody is out there, if they haven’t been told that they’re donor-conceived and they don’t have any reason to do a DNA test, then they may never know,” Salib-Huber said. “And that doesn’t quite seem right in this day and age.”
“For me, DNA testing has really been the greatest gift that I could ever have received,” Grant added. “It took me from a situation where I had no possibility to know who my biological father was, or if I had siblings, or perhaps more importantly, my medical history. You have to understand, for my entire adult life I have never been able to give my physician a complete medical history.”
While the women are thrilled to know each other now, they also hope that their story will inspire parents to be more open with donor-conceived children.
“I think that if there is more of a culture of openness versus secrecy, that more people could experience what we’re experiencing,” Salib-Huber said.