The Man With 17 Kids (And Counting)

by Lionel Casey

When Tim Gullicksen began donating to a sperm bank in 1989, he in no way anticipated fulfilling his biological youngsters. He never imagined renting a 15-passenger van to take them to California’s Bass Lake every summer. Or expected the kids hiking, gambling pranks, and competing viciously over stupid video games they invented together. But this July, Tim will—as has now become an annual lifestyle—rent that van, fill it with meals from Costco, and take the youngsters out to Bass Lake for a week.

The “youngsters” are 18 to twenty-five years old now, adults surely. Some had been coming to Bass Lake for a decade.

Over the years, they’ve located Tim is certainly one of two ways: an internet site is known as the Donor Sibling Registry, which connects humans with the aid of donor variety, or, greater these days, DNA tests from 23andMe or AncestryDNA. These equipment have allowed many donor-conceived human beings to connect with their donors and donor siblings. But Tim, a 52-yr-antique real-estate agent in San Francisco, is unusually worried, and the sibling organization unusually tight-knit. When I asked whether I could interview any of the siblings, he shot off a message in their Instagram group chat. Eleven of them quickly agreed.

“I simply experience really lucky. This is an absolutely, without a doubt cool state of affairs,” says Emma Walker, who met Tim after taking a DNA test 4 years in the past, whilst she became sixteen. She went to her first Bass Lake reunion in 2016. “It became overwhelming in the first-rate of ways,” she says. “We pulled up in a vehicle, and people simply ran as much as us and had been hugging us.”
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As Tim recollects it, he decided to donate sperm after reading approximately lesbians looking for donors in a San Francisco homosexual-pride magazine. How fantastic, he thought, to help families have children. As a young homosexual guy in the ’80s, a long time before marriage equality, he didn’t think he would otherwise have children. But he soon found out that he couldn’t donate to a sperm bank—for the same purpose he could not donate to a blood bank. Because he had sex with men, he was visible as a danger for HIV.

The controversial policy is in location even today, despite the fact that banks have lengthy quarantined and tested sperm for HIV. It didn’t sit nicely with Tim, so he lied. He surpassed all of the fitness screenings, began donating often, and for years never thought about it a lot. His sperm went everywhere in the united states. Unlike other donors, who provide sperm in the main for coins, he did sooner or later need to satisfy his donor kids, but he didn’t expect to—at the least now not till they were 18 and got here searching out him on their personal.

In the mid-2000s, Tim heard about the Donor Sibling Registry, and for the primary time, he found out he would possibly get to recognize his donor kids as children. He signed up. He matched with a handful of the mothers who had picked him as their sperm donor. Still, he says, “they all regarded honestly reluctant.” They had their own lives and their very own families; they weren’t prepared to bring in a stranger. He stopped checking the site often because he wasn’t getting common messages.

But Simone Braquet and her 9-12 months-vintage son, McKay, have been one-of-a-kind. When Tim didn’t respond without delay to her message on the Donor Sibling Registry, she emailed the web site’s founder, who in turn forwarded the message to Tim. He recollects her pronouncing in their first telephone call, “Your son desires to meet you.” Those phrases caught him. “That’s the first and handiest time,” he says, “that a person who has gotten their donor sperm from me has stated the kid like mine.”

McKay had begun asking approximately his dad when he became approximately five. At school, he would make cards for Father’s Day, most effective to haven’t anyone to provide them to—so he began keeping a “daddy container.” Once Si’Mone were given in contact with Tim, father and son began talking for an hour every day. Tim got here right down to go to at some stage in his spring spoil. “I’m first-rate frightened,” he remembers. “I don’t have any idea what to anticipate,” McKay remembers ready by means of the large window on the front of his house, scanning the street for his dad. For strangers, even for two genetically related strangers, they get on well. They rode bikes. They went by way of McKay’s college. And McKay gave Tim the daddy container.

Once the other mothers noticed photos of Tim with McKay at the Donor Sibling Registry, they were given cozy with the idea in their kid’s assembly him too. He started going to look, other children—a boy close to Los Angeles, a lady close to San Francisco, and so forth. He also commenced coming out separately to their mothers. “I become awesomely frightened approximately it at the start because I had lied,” he says, but none of them made a large deal about it. Once, before Tim went to go to McKay in Texas, Simone’s own family did bring up a photograph that her circle of relatives had located, of him with “go-dressers.” He corrected her. “I become like, ‘Honey, they’re drag queens. They’re one-of-a-kind due to the fact they have a sense of humor,” he recalls, giggling. It didn’t trouble Si’Mone after that, and because the kids themselves have gotten older, they have got additionally found out of their very own time that Tim is homosexual.

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