ORLANDO, Fla. – America has long had a fascination with television shows featuring large families.
The six kids in the Brady Bunch, the seven kids who made up the Waltons and lived on their own Virginia mountain or Eight is Enough with the Bradford family; these big families made viewers laugh or cry and they could solve a family crisis in roughly 30 minutes to an hour.
Well, that was then and those families were made up of fictional characters, though the Waltons were loosely based on a real family.
What if you learned you had upwards of 65 half-brothers and sisters? How long do you think it would take to talk out and resolve a family problem?
For one, you would need a stadium-size jumbotron screen just to handle the family Zoom call.
For 24-year-old Kianni Arroyo, finding all of her half siblings is an obsession.
Arroyo is a donor-conceived child, which means her mom selected a sperm donor based on some specific qualities she liked about the donor.
Turns out, a lot of other people also liked the qualities of donor #2757.
Arroyo joined anchors Ginger Gadsden and Matt Austin on this week’s edition of Florida’s Fourth Estate to talk about her quest to find her half siblings.
This was actually her second appearance on the podcast.
When Arroyo first spoke with Matt and Ginger nearly two years ago she had already discovered 45 half siblings.
These days with so many DNA tests and family finder kits, locating relatives has become relatively easy.
Arroyo recently did a TikTok video featuring a smattering of her half siblings and it is fascinating to watch. As each face appears on screen for about 4 seconds, familiar features morph from one video to the next. It’s like seeing the same version of one person with slightly different features. Many of the siblings in the one-minute-long TikTok have big, soulful eyes and electric smiles.
Arroyo said it took her about a week to gather the videos. She said it was difficult editing each clip because she wanted to get as many of them as possible in the TikTok so she could show off their personalities.
“It’s really cool to see the different age ranges in that video because not everyone wants to be involved but when I asked about if they wanted to be in this TikTok, I got a whole bunch of videos at once,” she said.
There is a big age range. Arroyo thought she was the oldest at 24 but later learned donor #2757 was “requested” a few months before even going on the market. The youngest half sibling (so far) is 3 years old.
Right now, there are 5 sets of twins and one set of triplets in the group.
Another thing that stands out is the number of girls versus boys. Arroyo said there are more than 40 girls so far. When she was putting the TikTok video together she actually asked more boys to send in clips because she had so few of them.
As you might imagine, when you put yourself out there as Arroyo has done, the online community can get very opinionated and triggered. Arroyo said, for the most part, people online have been pretty nice. They are, however, very curious. She does spend a bit of time answering questions from people who don’t understand what it means to be donor-conceived.
Arroyo said she is always happy to answer those questions so people have a better understanding. She said inevitably, though, the one question that pops up frequently is the possibility of dating or even marrying one of her half siblings.
She gets it but said, “Well listen, I am not going to just marry some random guy I met on the street. Like that’s not how things go down.”
“This is still a normal life. I just maybe have to ask a little extra questions. And of course, it is 2021, they have DNA tests out there so that is a definite thing we may have to consider being a donor conceived person,” she added.
Arroyo, who just got married before the pandemic, said she was positive her husband isn’t included in the 65 plus club of half siblings.
“My husband is his father’s twin so, I have no concern with my husband being my brother.”
She said for the most part people are just curious. We were curious about what she considers to be the dumbest or most confusing question she has been asked about her family situation.
She said someone wanted to know, “How many siblings are out there if they don’t know that they are siblings?”
Arroyo laughed and said, “Well if they don’t know that they’re siblings and I don’t know that they are out there… it was a backwards question. How am I supposed to know they are out there if they don’t know that they are out there? Which is why I say 65 plus because I don’t know how many are out there.”
As for the half siblings, she has found, they all bear similar striking features. And since the one thing they all have in common is donor #2757 there must be something about this guy the ladies really hone in on.
Arroyo said when she met him in person and he resembles actor Robert Downey, Junior. Go on.
But is that just coincidence or did the people who selected donor #2757 all swoon when they saw his picture? Turns out, that is not how it works or there would be a lot of kids who look like Idris Elba walking around out there. But I digress. (But you should totally do a Google image search for actor Idris Elba. You’re welcome)
“When you are actually choosing your donor through the clinic you don’t have a picture of what they look like. You actually just have a childhood photo of them. You have the basics like a driver’s license type. Okay, he has green eyes, he has fair skin and he has light wavy brown hair. And that’s all they have to choose off of,” Arroyo explained,
Turns out Arroyo’s mom had a very sound reason for choosing donor #2757.
“My mom, when she decided to use a donor, the very first thing she actually looked for was blood type” Arroyo said. “For any emergency reason she wanted her child to have the same blood type as her so she went and found a donor with the same blood type, so if I needed blood or if she needed blood we can give blood to each other.”
Well, color us embarrassed because that thought never crossed our minds. Turns out Florida’s Fourth Estate is shallow. We will work on that. In the meantime, Arroyo said a family reunion put on hold last year because of the pandemic is back on this year.
We wanted to know how many more half siblings she wanted to find. Arroyo said she will stop when she finds 100.
If you would like to see or listen to the entire episode of Florida’s Fourth Estate, please click on the link.
Florida’s Fourth Estate looks at everything from swampy politics to a fragile environment and even the crazy headlines that make Florida the craziest state in the Union.
Ginger Gadsden and Matt Austin use decades of experience as journalists to dissect the headlines that impact Florida. Each week they have a guest host who helps give an irreverent look at the issues impacting the Sunshine State. Big influencers, like Attorney John Morgan, renowned Florida journalists and the scientists protecting Florida’s ecosystem, can often be found as guests.
Look for new episodes every Friday on iTunes, Stitcher or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.