ORLANDO, Fla. - Imagine being raised an only child and then discovering you have more than 40 half-brothers and half-sisters scattered around the globe.
That's the reality for one Orlando woman who is now using Instagram to connect with as many of them as she can.
Their common link? All of them came from the same sperm donor.
"That's part of the reason why I created the Instagram (page)," Kianni Arroyo said. "So all my siblings know who they are related to."
This search for half siblings all started when Kianni Arroyo wanted to learn more about her sperm donor and to meet other children just like her.
But now, Kianni Arroyo, who was raised as only child, has discovered she has 46 half siblings and there could be even more.
"My biggest goal is to have one giant sibling reunion of just all 46 kids," said Kianni Arroyo, who has already met about 20 of her half siblings. "At least half of our siblings have dimples and blue eyes, we all just look very, very similar because of our donor. A lot of us are very artistically inclined."
They call themselves diblings - short for donor siblings. And pictures of Kianni Arroyo's siblings grace her Donor Siblings Instagram page. More than 4,000 people are currently following Arroyo's quest to find more family members.
Her story has gone viral, and already captured the attention of The Washington Post and National Public Radio.
Kianni Arroyo said an online visit to the Donor Sibling Registry website helped her and her mom identify several different families who all share the same connection. They all used Donor #2757. With his light eyes, fair skin and clean bill of health, he was a very popular choice in the donor world.
"Yeah we joke around about being sister moms," said Ruth Arroyo, Kianni's mom.
Kianni Arroyo says her donor prefers to keep his identity private. However, he did meet with her during a business trip to Orlando.
"He's definitely overwhelmed by the number," Kianni Arroyo said.
But she says her goal is to meet each and every one of her diblings, who currently range in age from 1 to 21.
"Because it is a connection you're not able to have anywhere else," Kianni Arroyo said. "And not a lot of people understand that connection, because they are not in the same situation. Siblings are the best thing I can ever have."
Meeting her first set of half-sisters inspired Kianni Arroyo to take to Instagram and try to find even more.
"Being able to feel like a big sister to them just made me want to be a big sister to all the rest of them," Kianni Arroyo said.
She never dreamed she would have so many, spread all across the globe.
"We're basically up and down the East Coast - from Florida all the way up to Maine," Kianni Arroyo said. "A lot of them are in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and New York. There's nine of them in Canada, four in Australia, two in New Zealand."
A Mother's Perspective
Unlike other countries, the United States has no laws regulating how many families can use a specific donor.
But Ruth Arroyo says she was shocked to discover just how many families used Donor #2757 to get pregnant.
"I think it is a big number, I do think it does need some type of limit at this time," Ruth Arroyo said. "They told me there wouldn't be any siblings within a 500-mile radius and that wasn't true."
Ruth Arroyo's family even considered the possibility of Kianni Arroyo dating someone related to her, and always told her to make sure to meet their actual mother and father, but even that is not a guarantee.
"There's a lot out there that the parents will never tell their child or they will never know their actual biological father," Ruth Arroyo said.
Her advice to other people considering using a donor: Make sure to tell the child the child about their unique history.
"It's a lot easier to start when they are young, so that way it is not a surprise to them when they're older," Ruth Arroyo said. "So I told her (Kianni) from when she was little that she was a special little present to me from the doctor’s office. And as she got older, it went age appropriate what I explained to her."
So what has been this mother's favorite part of her daughter's quest to find more family members?
"I love to see her travel and meet all of the siblings and how much fun it brings her," Ruth Arroyo said.
And she says meeting Kianni Arroyo's diblings is like a trip down memory lane.
"My favorite is one of the children that looked just like her," Ruth Arroyo said. "So I felt like I went back in time when I met her. I felt like I met Kianni again when she was 7 years old."
Kianni Arroyo hopes her story will help connect other donor families.
"Because of my Instagram, I had message upon message of people saying, 'Oh I'm donor conceived too - your story is so inspiring," Kianni Arroyo said.
Wendy Kramer, who created the Donor Sibling Registry, said in the past 18 years, they have connected more than 16,250 of their 61,250 members in a total of 105 countries around the world.
The registry allows people to search by the facility that was used or by the donor number used. Kramer says the registry's mission is to connect, educate and support parents, donors and donor-conceived people and allow them to share their experiences.
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