Some people would say that love comes at unexpected times and in unexpected places. Jessica Share and Aaron Long know this firsthand.
Over a decade ago, Jessica Share and her then-wife welcomed two daughters, Alice and Soren, through sperm donation. Shortly after Soren’s birth in 2007, Jessica and her ex-partner parted ways.
Years went by and, Alice started getting interested in her heritage, so she asked her grandmother to get her a 23andMe kit. In February 2017, she got the results back, and that’s when things began getting crazy.
Alice, Aaron, and Jessica in 2019 posing for a selfie | Photo: Courtesy of Jessica Share
A man named Aaron Long was listed as Alice’s potential father (50% parental match). Apart from that, another young man named Bryce was listed as her potential half-sibling.
After looking into the results, Jessica learned that Aaron was indeed the sperm donor she had chosen years ago to welcome Alice and Soren. Thanks to Bryce, who had already contacted Aaron, they met in the summer of 2017.
Jessica and Aaron posing together in 2019 | Photo: Courtesy of Jessica Share
Shortly after that first meeting, which Jessica described as a “meet-the-kids party” for Aaron and his donation kids, Aaron and Jessica started dating, and they have been together ever since.
In an exclusive interview with AmoMama, Jessica shared some details about how they found Aaron for the first time, their love story, and the drama between her and her ex-wife. Alice shared her thoughts on Jessica and Aaron’s relationship, too. You can watch a video with the interview HERE.
Jessica and her ex-partner Melanie with Alice | Photo: Courtesy of Jessica Share
AmoMama (AM): Why did you choose exactly Aaron among all the sperm donors? What did you like in his profile the most?
Jessica Share (JS): When my ex and I were choosing a sperm donor, I was going to carry the baby first. I was a little bit older and I was doing a dissertation, so I was home all the time, and it was a good time for me to get pregnant.
So, we try to match her, we try to find someone who had brown and curly hair, and [my ex] was in the writer's workshop, which is really famous sort of college program for writers and really wanted to be a writer. [Aaron] had a Master's of Creative Writing, so we were really attracted to that.
Jessica and Aaron posing together soon after their first meeting in 2017 | Photo: Courtesy of Jessica Share
Back when we were choosing, there weren’t pictures that you could look at even. There was very, very little… today, you have a lot. It’s like your shopping. You can pick, like, what's their astrological sign, and all those stuff that I don't think matters, but it’s really fun to look at.
We just have his answers to a couple of little questions and that was all we had to go on. So, we picked based on the fact that he was a writer, he was well-educated, he was funny, and he sounded like my [ex]-partner.
It was just a way of getting more information that we just didn’t have before that.
(AM): While going through the whole sperm donor process, did you think that maybe one day it’d be great to meet him in real life?
(JS): We didn't think it was possible to ever see him in real life. We didn’t have a picture on the profile and, at the time, there was no way that you could have ever known. The sperm bank tells you that there’s no way you will ever going to know. It's anonymous, and we just thought that was it.
(AM): Whose idea was to find Alice’s and Soren’s biological father?
(JS): We didn't set out to find Aaron. I guess, in your head, you know that's possible, but my daughter wanted to do a DNA test because her grandma kept talking about all this family history.
I’ve never known who my dad is, so Alice, who was 12 was like, “you know what? I'm 75% unknown, actually, grandma. Like, I’ve heard your stories, but I want to see what I am, where I am from, like ancestrally.”
And she was really interested in that, and getting the country breakdown and seeing that. I guess you think in the back of your head, “he could be there on the list of people who have taken the test. Half-siblings could be on a list of people who have taken the test.” But […] you're not taking it to try to find him as a person.
(AM): How old was Alice when she decided to take the DNA test? Why did she come up with such an idea? Did Alice want to meet her father or just know more about her genetic background?
(JS): She was 11 years old. I think what’s interesting about it is when… she was just on a whim, you know, “I want to play that game.”
But the half-siblings that were there that we found, there were two other people that came up as your half-brother and your half-sister and they were like 19 and 20 and they were like, “I want to know the donor. I want to know who I am.”
My 11-year old [daughter], with the confidence of an 11-year old [child], was like, “you want me to – I don't know that I want to meet some adult man.” It didn’t have as much interest for her yet. She didn't care as much as the adults cared.
(AM): Weren’t you against her decision? Didn’t you have any worries that he wouldn’t want to meet or contact you?
(JS): I was supportive of her taking the test in the first place. I think it's fun to do, I think that information is never scary or wrong and. It doesn't have to lead to a relationship, it doesn't have to mean that you adopt [this person into your family now].
It was just a way of getting more information that we just didn’t have before that, so why wouldn’t you [be supportive].
(AM): Was it you who sent the first message?
(JS): I sent a message to Aaron. I figured… when he popped up and it's like, “50% father” I did a little Googling and try to find him and sort of looking who this person was a little bit more.
But you also figure, “no one's going to send a message to your obviously tiny child.” Her picture on the website; she’s 11! I'm a parent, and I didn't think that he would even reach out. I sent a very simple message, I said:
“Hi! This is Alice’s [mom]. I do have another daughter who would also match you. I have pictures. We’re willing to share pictures back and forth and anything else that you might want to know, or that she might want to know. Are you open to that?”
And that was it because you don't know how open people are or what they're looking for.
(AM): How long did you wait for his reply?
(JS): It was an instant reply. He wrote back within an hour or two. And he was very confused by my message because I was trying to cram so much information into this very light-hearted message.
I was trying to [make him feel] curiosity [saying] “I got pictures! Write me back because I bet you’re curious as to what they look like, and we’re curious as to what you look like.”
And he wrote back instantly, and he said he had been in touch with some of the other donor kids on the website, and he was very open to learning about us. He sent us a 50-page autobiography of his life that he had written for the other kids.
He was like, “you know, 50 years is a lot to cover, so I told them a little bit about [what’s been going on].” He was a writer! It was almost instant that he wrote us back.
(AM): We read that there is a dramatic situation in your story with Alice’s sister. Could you please share with us what's happening?
(JS): This I feel like it’s the real love story because Alice has met all of these people that are genetically related to her but she doesn't have her sister [Soren] anymore.
Her sister is genetically related to her and they were raised together, but after I had [Alice], my partner had a baby, and we used the same donor [Aaron]. You start off thinking, “this doesn't matter. We’re going to raise it, how we want to raise it, and we will love it, and it will be whoever it is.”
And then you have the first baby, and it's perfect. You think, “I'm going to clone this. This is perfect!” So, we used the same donor, he was still available a year later, and that seemed great. So, we use him, and we had our second daughter.
Jessica and her ex-partner Melanie with Alice and baby Soren | Photo: Courtesy of Jessica Share
They were together for the first 10 years of their lives, and then they basically stopped communicating with Alice. That woman's entire family – grandma, grandpa – stopped communicating with Alice and they would not let Soren reach out to Alice anymore or to me ever again.
And I had those kids – when we had divorced – I had those kids 5 days a week. So that child lost her entire family, my entire side of the family, and vice versa.
So, Alice is incredibly sensitive about people coming in and going, “you’ve got these sisters and brothers and father,” and she’s like, “no! I care about that one.”
That’s the one that she loves. That’s the one that she grew up with. That she has a family bond with. She’s not going to get over that. You don't replace that with, like, “this kid also has 50% of your DNA.”
You can’t just swap them out. But I just tell her that it’s really valuable to know these people, too, and to bring more people into our lives. She knows and she understands.
(AM): Does Alice’s sister know that you found her father?
(JS): We think that she might. We hope that she might. She knows where all of our photos have been online her entire life.
We leave that really open, and we share everything that we've seen and that we've done in every vacation that we've taken, and her half-siblings are with her there, and we hope that, someday, she's able to rejoin her family and to meet these people.
You know, my grandma died in the time since we haven't been able to reach out to Soren. Aaron’s mom, who’s wonderful and loves seeing all these kids, already had Alzheimer's. She had no idea what was happening that all these people were suddenly in her life, but she loved it.
That’s something [Soren] didn’t know – all these great people. Soren didn’t get to have that. She will never get to meet her grandmother.
So, a lot of it we can’t get back to her, but we try to share everything that we can and we just hope that she will come to realize that we really love her and that we’re also not going anywhere. We’re not replacing her. The thing about the DNA is, it’s your own story, you’re entitled to that.
Our [first] meeting was incredibly awkward.
(AM): How long did you chat before meeting him in real life?
(JS): We took the test for Christmas, so we got the results back at the end of January, and, right away, we started communicating with Aaron, and we started communicating with the other half-siblings.
They were in college at the time, so they had planned to come together to Seattle to meet Aaron. That was going to happen at the end of the school year, so we planned for 3 or 4 months to come out to Seattle to meet Aaron together, and we were close by, so we just [thought], “we will do that at the same time.
My daughter will also be out of school. We’ll come up. we'll wait until May to come up to see you and we’ll all be together.” Because we’d liked to meet them, too.
(AM): What was your first thought about Aaron in real life? Was it awkward to meet him, or was it like a reunion with someone who you’d known for a long time already?
(JS): It was very awkward because Aaron had given like a talent show PowerPoint [presentation] about how he donated sperm and he [was trying to] find his children.
All of his friends found out about it and were really interested, and someone who is a producer said, “I would like to make a documentary about this, so I would like to film you meeting your children.”
So, our meeting was incredibly awkward. We came to Seattle, and then we couldn't sit down with him. We had to go hide in a hotel overnight, and then walk in on the camera and meet him, and not even been looking at him [but] looking at the camera and answering questions.
What you really want to do is kind of stare at these kids and stare at him. You've seen pictures [of these people], but until you talk to [them] and you know their mannerisms, it's hard to tell what they're like and how they’re like your kids and the other kids are like each other.
So, we didn't get a chance until we got rid of everyone for the day for all of us to just go out and be together.
(AM): How the relationship between you and Aaron started to develop? Was there a sparkle?
(JS): I wouldn't call it a sparkle at first because I thought that that was, like, bad mommy 101. This is not my person; this is their person, and I was not going to get in and have it, like, blow-ups spectacularly, and have this be someone that might be in their lives forever.
They were only ten; they’ve got a long way to go, so I didn't want there to be a sparkle. I didn’t want there to be a relationship. And I think I did grow into it, because, at first, you like them because they smile like these people that you love.
You like that about them right away, because it's so familiar in a way that these are the people that mean the most to you in the world. Look! He’s just like that! How would I not like that? But it wouldn't last if it was just built on that.
That's, like, such a novelty, right? When people get together, they do that the other way. They'll like the person for who they are and they think, “it would be great if the little usses look like us! Let’s make some!”
But, I had that experience in reverse. I had these people that looked like him and they raised their eyebrows like him and laughed like him, and then when I met him, it's very hard not to like him but you have to.
You have to develop a friendship, and you have to like him on his own, or you're just getting involved in it, and you should just leave it to your kids. It's not your person, maybe.
(AM): For how long were you just friends before your romantic relationship started to develop?
(JS): We were not friends for long before we started dating. It was during that initial vacation that we took to meet him with all the other kids that we got away one night and locked all the kids together and went out and talked.
I’ve told people it was our first date, but it was me telling him about his children, which was a weird first date, but we started dating right away. I was with someone else, but that was a relationship that was ending right then, so we started dating pretty quickly after that vacation, after that initial meeting.
[Aaron looked] just like my daughters with a 1960s boy cut.
Aaron with some of his children, including Alice | Photo: Courtesy of Jessica Share
(AM): What was Alice’s reaction?
(JS): She was not jealous. She was immediately an eye-rolling teenager. She’s like, “ahh, mom. Really?” But she and Aaron are both very calm and quiet and do-your-own-thing kind of people, so she took it in stride. She's ok with it, but I think she thinks it's funny.
(AM): How did Alice find out that you were dating?
(JS): She walked in on us kissing [laughs]. It's something that was definitely going to be a longer conversation. I didn't want to say, “Hey, we’re dating! It's no big deal.” It is a big deal for her.
And even if she was like, “Well, I hate Aaron and I will never see him again. Don’t worry about that, mom. You go burn that bridge,” it’s her sister’s father, too. So, I was trying to wait until it was a very, very, very solid relationship before I told them, but that didn’t work out.
(AM): In your interview with the BBC, you said: “There was no doubt he is your kid’s father. My daughters make that stupid face.”
(JS): When I was looking Aaron up online, I had his name, and it was an incredibly common name in the United States. There are many Aaron Longs. I was trying to find the right one based on my understanding of where [that sperm donor was].
I knew that he was a little older than me. I'm just trying to put all these together and look for him online, and when I found his Facebook, he had put up all of his school pictures from K to 12.
Obviously, you wouldn't know looking at a 50-year-old man that this is obviously your 10-year-old children’s father, right? But if you see that first-grade picture, there was no doubt in my mind.
This is just like my daughters with a 1960s boy cut, looking like boys and making this face where they were both just like. I’m glad that that’s not for me! But it was obvious that when he was a little kid, the little kids looked like him.
(AM): What other similarities have you noticed between Alice and Aaron?
(JS): Now that we’ve been living with Aaron for a while now, it’s all of their mannerism, it’s not the physical stuff. They are basically the same person, and if I didn’t live in this house, they would just keep doing each other, like, next to each other for the next 20 years, and it would be weird.
They're both so easygoing, they're both quiet, they're both literary. It’s their personalities. They would both quietly read books next to each other and watch “Jeopardy!” forever.
Emily, another of Aaron’s kids, just happens to live in Seattle. She’s younger. She’s Soren’s age, even a couple of months younger than Soren. So, she’s two full years younger than Alice.
So, when we met her that first time, she was like ten, she was like in third grade, and her mom didn’t want to introduce her to Aaron.
On that vacation, her mom told her she had half-siblings, and we all met, which I thought was interesting and weird, but for her to meet the kids, her mom thought that was something that she would be interested in.
So, we all met, and when we ended up in Seattle, we joined girl scouts with Emily. Alice still texts Emily, I think, every day. We haven't been able to see [her]… and Matty moved out to Seattle, too.
We haven't been able to see either of them since coronavirus, but prior to that, we were very close to both of them.
(AM): Do you have some special family traditions together?
(JS): We watch a lot of “Jeopardy!” Alice can sweep any mythology or literature category, and she would compete with Aaron for the literature categories. But we haven’t been able to do that.
We were in downtown Seattle when we first moved here, and now that we have this big house, coronavirus happened, so we haven’t been able to have the half-siblings over and we haven't been able to go and see them, either.
We had everyone [over] last Christmas, and I'm sure we’ll be the house that tries to host the holidays in the future. But, right now, our family tradition is raising our chickens. We tried to get 8 baby chickens in the spring and 7 of them turned out to be roosters.
Alice and Aaron posing with a cat in 2019 | Photo: Courtesy of Jessica Share
Alice and Aaron, who are both vegetarian, did not want to send the roosters away. Now, we are just raising 7 roosters, and they are loud.
(AM): Do Alice and Aaron have a father-daughter relationship? Is there a good/bad cop in your family now? Who is who?
(JS): Aaron and I are both the good cop, which is a bad situation, but no. Aaron’s never had a partner, and he's never had other kids [living with him].
I don't think that he would know how to parent, and it's a really great situation because he wouldn't know how to jump in and try to parent those kids if he tried, and it's a really perfect situation for the kids because you couldn't come into a 12-year-old’s life and say, “now I'm dad, and I'm going to lay down the law.” It wouldn't work. The kids would not like you.
Jessica, Alice, and Aaron in Philadelphia in 2019 | Photo: Courtesy of Jessica Share
Aaron is really laid back. Aaron wants to get to know everybody as friends because that's how he does things, and he hasn’t had kids to have to parent, so he really sees them as individuals, and he tries to have a relationship with all of them based on their interests.
He and Alice talk a lot. We go hiking together a lot. We live on an island, so we do a lot of beach walks, but I'm the one who's climbing over rocks and saying, “we can make it before the tide comes in,” and Aaron and Alice are both like, “Hmm. Let's go home.”
Jessica, Alice, and Aaron's first meeting in the summer of 2017 | Photo: Courtesy of Jessica Share
(AM): What’s your favorite family tradition with Aaron and your mom?
Alice Mikell (A): Well, we recently started breaking bread. So that’s fun. We haven’t really lived together long enough to have any solid traditions. Although, we do like baking cookies every Christmas, so that works.
(AM): What was your first reaction when you actually found your father with the DNA test?
(A): It was surprising more than anything. I wasn’t thinking, “oh wow, what are the consequences of this.” I was just thinking, “well, you’ve only got friends and cousins,” so, I was just shocked when it said, “50%. Father.”
(AM): What about your siblings? Do you have a solid connection with them? Do you chat with them? What kind of relationship you have?
(A): Well, they’ve more taken on a family-friend role than anything. I talk with Emily often, although I do not have any solid connections with the others. We are all Facebook friends, though.
Jessica, Alice, Aaron, and two of his children in Oregon in 2017 | Photo: Courtesy of Jessica Share
(AM): Did you use the website to actually meet your biological father, or was it just a way to learn more about your heritage?
(A): I did not expect that I would find any significant relatives at all. My primary concern was known if I was truly as White as I seemed – the answer was yes. I contemplated the possibility of finding, maybe, a half-sibling, but I did not expect this much.
(AM): How did you react when you found out about your mom and Aaron’s romantic relationship? Were you against it? Were you jealous?
(A): I really wasn’t. Mom’s business is not mine, so as long you’re not doing much PDA in the living room, I don't care that much.
(AM): Do you plan to marry Aaron? Do you plan to develop your relationship?
(JS): The easy answer to that question is: sure. We think of ourselves as married already. And the hard answer is that I married my girls’ mom in Canada before it was legal in the United States.
So, to go through that divorce and to try to fight for Soren might not do anything for Aaron and me, and might just cost us $100,000, so it’s less important for us to get married and to have a wedding, but we bought a house together, and we got chickens together, and we're together.
Jessica and Aaron posing for a selfie | Photo: Courtesy of Jessica Share
(AM): Does he plan to become the official Alice’s father?
(JS): Well, Alice has an adoption. Her mom, who abandoned her, has an adoption on her. So, it's not something that, in the States, you can undo. She has two legal parents and we’re not allowed to just add more like cookies. Which is ok.
Aaron is one of her primary caregivers here. He's here with her all the time. He's the one that's sharing her life with her.
Thank you so much, Alice and Jessica, for taking the time to share with our audience some details about your lives. You genuinely have a unique family!