At age 29, Sara Lamm learned that the dad who raised her isn’t her biological father. He’d had cancer as a young adult, and the chemotherapy and radiation treatment damaged his fertility.
Sara was conceived with help from a sperm donor. She happens to be a filmmaker, so she filmed her search for her bio dad using DNA testing. Her movie is called “Thank You for Coming.”
Tee hee. The title brings out my inner fifth grader. Also I love a pun.
“Thank You for Coming” does include a giggle-inducing moment or two (at least if you can’t stifle that pre-teen inside you), but the topic is serious. “To have one story ripped from you and nothing put in its place is not a good feeling,” Sara says.
DNA testing has made it possible for people who are donor-conceived, adopted, or separated from their birth families for some other reason, to know the stories of their ancestry. To have that extra sense of identity that humans crave.
** You can watch “Thank You for Coming” free! We’re opening up access to view the film online between April 23 at 4 p.m. ET and April 25 at 4 p.m ET! Click here for all the details. You’ll also learn how to join our free online live Q&A session with Sara on Wed., April 25 at 4 p.m. ET! **
Using DNA in Your Bio Family Search
Sara knew only that she was conceived at the University of North Carolina Medical Center, and that the sperm donor was probably a medical student.
In the movie, you learn a bit about DNA and glimpse the elaborate spreadsheets that Sara’s friend Jennifer, also donor-conceived, keeps for her own DNA matches at 23andMe. The pair met through an adoption registry after discovering their parents used the same fertility clinic.
“There’s a person out there who contributed to half of my DNA,” Jennifer says in the film. “I’m really interested in learning about … maybe not even so much him …. as his parents and where they came from. I’m encountering all these stories of family and how they came over and what they went through, and I can’t attach to any of that.”
Jennifer has a system down, researching each match’s family tree to find candidates for her bio dad. She coaches Sara’s search.
What You’ll See in “Thank You for Coming”
“Thank You for Coming” isn’t really a how-to film, though. It’s more about what happens inside your head when you take on a search for relatives you’ve never met. What are you hoping to learn? How will your family feel? What will you say to a bio parent or sibling who might not know you exist, who maybe never expected to hear from you?
What if you find your relative and he doesn’t want anything to do with you?
We meet Jennifer’s mom in the movie and get insight into the thoughts of Sara’s mother. She died when Sara was just 10. We see Sara’s father deal, in his stoic way, with conflicted feelings about his daughter’s search. We watch Sara struggle to give her school-age kids enough—but not too much—information on what it means to be donor-conceived.
I won’t tell you if we get to meet Sara’s bio dad. You’ll have to watch “Thank You for Coming” to find that out.
Watch “Thank You for Coming” and Join a Live Q&A
Click here now to watch the “Thank You for Coming” trailer and get details on our free online access to the full film between April 23 and April 25.
You’ll also learn about our live Q&A session with Sara Lamm on Wed., April 25, at 4 p.m. ET. She’ll have tips and insights to share with birth family searchers, DNA researchers and genealogists in general. We hope you’ll join in!