A woman has revealed the trauma of learning she was donor-conceived at the age of 21 in a new ITV documentary.
Amanda Burgess, 34, from Clacton-on-Sea, was shocked to discover her heritage during a drunken night out at the local pub when she was 21.
He began to learn about the nature of his conception when he overheard his mother’s conversation in the pub after years of being kept in the dark.
‘From that moment on, life was just different. “I wasn’t the person I was 24 hours ago,” Amanda said.
He longed to find out more information about his sperm donor, but was afraid to upset his parents.
However, he finally launched his quest for information in a new ITV documentary, Born from the Same Stranger. In a whirlwind episode, Amanda learned that she has four half-siblings and even managed to contact her sperm donor.
Amanda Burgess (pictured) from Clacton-on-Sea recalled the emotional moment she found out she had been conceived by donation.
Amanda’s experience raises the question of whether donor-conceived children have the right to know the identity of their donor.
The four-part series follows a change in UK law that came into force in 2023 that ended donor anonymity. This means that anyone conceived by donation after 2005 can request to know more details about her identity as soon as he turns 18.
In the emotional episode, Amanda recalled the moment she found out she had been donor-conceived.
“It was a normal night out with my friends and we went to the pub and I didn’t know life was going to change,” he said.
“I was 21. That night out was like any other normal night I’d ever had, and then my mom walked in.
‘My friend looked at her and said, “You have to tell him.” My mom had told my friend’s mom the big secret, and the next morning, my mom just blurted it out: “Your dad isn’t your dad, we had to use a sperm donor.”
‘From that moment on, life was just different. I wasn’t the person I was 24 hours ago. Suddenly, I was donor-conceived.’
In the years after her surprising discovery, Amanda started her own family, which helped her understand her parents’ decision.
In an emotional episode, Amanda discovered she has a half-brother, Guy (left). The couple met in Edinburgh and instantly felt a connection.
Amanda’s life changed forever at the age of 21 (the age she appears in the photo above) when she discovered she had been donor-conceived.
After about a year of trying to start a family with her partner Kevin, the couple encountered fertility problems.
“The doctors recommended that we do IVF,” she said. Fortunately, the couple managed to have a child together.
“Ryder is half me and half Kevin, but the parallels are pretty similar to what my parents had to experience,” he said.
“It made me understand what they would have felt at the time when they were obviously trying to have a child and start a family and it wasn’t really working out for them,” the mother of one added.
But while Amanda can empathize with her parents, it’s still difficult to broach a topic with them.
“I want to know who my donor is,” Amanda said. And she continued: “Just a name or a photo, but I don’t want to upset my parents.”
To begin her journey, Amanda sought advice from someone with similar experiences and found Louise, a donor-conceived journalist and podcaster.
The mother-of-one has had the support of her husband Kevin (pictured left) throughout the emotional journey.
The mother-of-one traveled to south London to visit Louise.
Amanda explained that she wanted to look for her relatives but is afraid of upsetting her parents.
She told Louise: “I don’t want him (my dad) to think I don’t love him, because I do and that will never change.”
But there’s another person out there who is half of me.
Louise identified with Amanda, having been through a similar situation, she said. ‘She’d also go to bed at night and think, “Who is this guy?” It was just this question mark that existed.”
Amanda responded: “It’s a strange elephant in the room and it’s always there and we have to tiptoe around it.”
But the talk with Louise resulted in clarity.
Thirteen years after Amanda found out she was donor-conceived, she finally felt ready to take a DNA test.
‘I feel like now is the time, I’m just doing it. “I really need to know,” she said.
Amanda added: “If I knew the identity of the donor, I would know once and for all who I am.”
He added: “And if there are half-siblings, I would love to have a relationship with them.”
It’s very difficult, you almost don’t know who you are.’
Three months after submitting his DNA, he received some answers.
The experience was emotional for Amanda, who burst into tears when she learned more information than she initially expected.
The DNA website found a match for his sperm donor.
“I really didn’t think my donor would be at one of these sites,” she said.
Amanda added: “It’s there in black and white, it’s real, the person exists.”
Another genealogy website revealed that he had four paternal half-siblings. “She’s crazy, she shows a half-sister, she’s a lawyer and I went to university to study law, what a strange thing.”
“It’s a lot more information than I knew 20 minutes ago, I’m a little stunned now,” she said.
Amanda decided to reach out to her partners in hopes of building a relationship.
“I’m very aware that I’m going to shoot someone’s life, and that person may not want that,” he acknowledged.
The mother-of-one broke down in tears after finding a DNA match for her sperm donor on a genealogy website.
Roy, from Edinburgh, said the prospect of building a relationship with his half-sister is “wonderful”
After messaging her half-siblings, Amanda was excited to discover that her half-brother Guy, also 34, wanted to meet them.
The half-brothers went to Edinburgh, where Guy works as a Ryanair pilot.
Unlike Amanda, Guy discovered he was donor-conceived at age 13.
Having been raised as an only child, Guy thought it was “wonderful” that he could now bond with a brother.
After meeting, the couple hit it off and found common ground.
Amanda said: “He seems like a really nice person and understands internally how I feel because he’s dealing with it too.”
“What Amanda and I have had today is special, it’s incredible,” Guy added.
In the future, Amanda hopes the relationship will grow into a deep family connection.
However, Amanda’s discovery did not end there. He also contacted her sperm donor through an intermediary.
The couple messaged each other and their donor was happy to answer any questions.
Amanda, ecstatic with her findings, summed up: “I guess you feel like normal people.”
Going forward, the mother of one plans to grow her relationship with Guy and his sperm donor.
And she concluded: “I definitely feel lighter, like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, and I feel like I’m not so alone anymore.”