JoEllen Marsh: born 1990, Russell, Pennsylvania
I grew up in a small town in Western Pennsylvania, and from an early age I sensed that my family set-up was a bit unusual. My lesbian mothers split up when I was little, and my younger sister Mollie and I spent our childhoods living at both houses.
Despite the complexity of my family, I have always felt completely loved and accepted. Yet since I was a little girl, there’s been a part of me that yearned to know something more about my genetic father, even if that meant just knowing his name. After waiting on the Donor Sibling Registry for nearly three years, I found my first half-sibling, my first connection to that unknown half of my DNA.
Since then I've met seven of my siblings, and last summer I had the amazing opportunity to travel to California to meet my biological father. Like many of the “sibs,” I love to travel and experience new cultures. This passion has led me to Amman, Jordan, where I am studying Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies. I will return to Erie, Pennsylvania in May 2011 to finish my degree in Intelligence Studies and apply for fellowships to attend graduate school in the Middle East.I think it was more of a curiosity for me to find Jeffrey.
It wasn’t really like, I needed to find him to complete myself. There were a lot of unanswered questions but I was raised in a very loving family with people who cared about me very much, and I think I found my stability in other ways. But meeting this new side of my family has been more meaningful than I could have imagined, and I expect these relationships to last all of my life. After all, family is family – however I define the word.