From being a divorcee with no kids to having an enormous brood — a man's entire life changed when he heard from a young woman, who was one of his 25 kids. She mentioned she was already in touch with 11 of his children.
Having an affectionate family to come home to is a luxurious feeling. Sadly, many people spend their lives feeling lonely and yearning for someone to call their own. Peter Ellenstein from Los Angeles experienced the same sentiments.
He was a struggling actor in the 1980s with no steady income. Ellenstein led an average life and picked up little earnings here and there. That was why he didn't hesitate to become an anonymous donor between 1987 and 1994 for two Los Angeles sperm banks.
Peter Ellenstein pictured with his biological children. | Photo: youtube.com/Inside Edition
A LONELY MAN
Ellenstein made some easy money in his 20s and 30s, earning as much as $900 a month for his sperm. Sometimes, he even donated five times in a single week. Over time, he forgot all about it, never expecting to hear a whisper about his past life.
Ellenstein married later and divorced, but he and his ex-wife never had children. The actor-turned-producer thought he was destined to be alone, with no children or a proper job. Then, one day, he received a message that changed his life.
A young woman, Rachel White, contacted Ellenstein on Facebook on October 5, 2017. White mentioned that she was born in 1994 through IVF. She was a 24-year-old musician raised in Malibu by a single mother.
Peter Ellenstein. | Photo: YouTube.com/Inside Edition
AN UNEXPECTED DISCOVERY
The young lady stated that she contacted Ellenstein because she thought he was her donor. White's message was shocking and profound, and it reminded Ellenstein of his past life. He couldn't believe that he had a daughter who wished to meet him.
As technology progresses and more people discover their newly-formed connections with strangers far and wide, we hope the closure offers them repose.
Initially, Ellenstein was scared to contact White, but he overcame his nervousness and agreed to meet her. It was a tearful reunion, and the pair couldn't stop hugging each other. After their first meeting, White continued to stay in touch with Ellenstein.
Ellenstein with two of his biological daughters. | Photo: YouTube.com/Inside Edition
A FATHER TO 25 CHILDREN
"He almost feels like a strange, older male extension of myself. But obviously, we're not the same person. We are vastly different in many ways, but it feels like a weird limb that I discovered," said White of her connection with Ellenstein.
Astonishingly, White wasn't Ellenstein's only biological child. Three weeks later, White revealed that she was in contact with 11 of his other children, all of whom had found each other through DNA testing. The divorced man couldn't believe what was happening.
Within a year, the original number doubled, and Ellenstein discovered that he had, in fact, fathered 25 children, unknowingly. Among his 20-plus children are a musician, a voice-over actress, an astrophysics major, a cybersecurity expert, and many others.
Peter Ellenstein with his biological daughter, Rachel White. | Photo: YouTube.com/Inside Edition
THE GRAND FAMILY REUNION
An awe-struck Ellenstein told Inside Edition: "They've been showing up at about one a month since Rachel found me in October 2017." Once the shock wore off, Ellenstein prepared himself to meet his enormous brood.
The unusual family reunion happened in early 2019 and was filled with endless laughter, hugs, and heartfelt conversations. One of Ellenstein's biological sons expressed: "Going from having no siblings to you know…having infinite siblings is kind of an interesting adjustment."
Ellenstein's oldest daughter brought champagne and donuts, and all the half-siblings cheered on over their shared connection. The new-found family has kept in touch over the years, holding get-togethers, dinner parties, and taking international trips.
Peter Ellenstein with his 25 biological children. | Photo: YouTube.com/Inside Edition
While getting to know his biological children, Ellenstein ensured he had their parents' support. Terming himself "sperminator," he shared he was glad to be a part of his children's lives and credited them with giving his life a purpose.
In recent years, many donor-conceived children have found and connected with their birth parents, thanks to social media and genetic testing sites like 23andMe and Ancestry.com. However, things might not always go the way they did for Ellenstein and his children.
Often, donor-conceived children hesitate in reaching out to their sperm donors. Other times, sperm donors don't wish to reconnect with the kids they sired. There are times when both parties are unsure how to take their connection further.
Erin Jackson, founder of "We Are Donor Conceived," a support page on Facebook with more than 650 members, started the group in 2016 after discovering she was donor-conceived. She had found her birth father and contacted him, but he told her "to get lost."
Jackson was disappointed and thought there might be others who felt the same. So, she created the resource group to understand her complicated emotions. Her bitter experience was opposite to what Ellenstein underwent with his biological children.
As technology progresses and more people discover their newly-formed connections with strangers far and wide, we hope the closure offers them repose, just like it did for Ellenstein and his enormous brood.
Like Ellenstein, a gay man received the biggest shock of his life when a young woman contacted him one day, claiming she was his daughter. Do you want to know what his reaction was? You can read the complete story here.
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