MYV’s Generation Cryo premieres Monday, Nov. 25 at 10/9CT.
Seventeen-year-old Breeanna Speicher has more than a dozen siblings, all sired by a single man. The list is growing. Until recently, she had never met any of them.
Like her brothers and sisters, Speicher — born to a lesbian couple in Reno, Nev. — was conceived using sperm from an anonymous sperm donor, a fact she hid until her teens when she began pondering the sum total of who she is. Hoping to meet her biological dad, whom she only knew as Donor 1096, Speicher logged on to the Donor Sibling Registry in search of clues and found an instant family. Soon the wryly funny, sociable teen was winging away to the home of Hilit and Jonah Jacobson, twins raised in an affluent Atlanta suburb by their mom Terri and dad Eric, who have helped them locate other half siblings, including fellow twins Jayme and Jesse Clapoff of Ojai, Calif.
The teens and their parents are now the stars of MTV’s Generation Cryo, which explores the issues of a growing group of people who are redefining what it means to be family. Though it’s tempting to dismiss the show as The Real World: Sperm Bank, Generation Cryo offers genuinely compelling insight into the rights and motivations of sperm donors, the children they produce, and the moms and dads who raise those children.
“[Terri] didn’t lose anything; I lost everything,” explains an emotional Eric Jacobson in the premiere episode. “I went through a grieving process of accepting that I couldn’t produce kids. … Am I secure enough in who I am to say, ‘We had to use donor sperm because I couldn’t do it? I couldn’t do the one manly thing that every man is expected to do.’”
“MTV came to us interested in doing a show like this and showing — real-life — what happens with these kids and their searching and finding, and why they search,” says Wendy Kramer, cofounder of the 40,000-member Donor Sibling Registry with her son Ryan, who was also conceived via donor. “These kids were great, and they were willing to do it.”
While the teens are divided in their desire to meet Donor 1096 should they find him, Kramer says the real idea is not to force donors to relinquish their right to anonymity, but to allow relationships to form among those who long for them.
“We don’t want to ‘out’ anybody, we don’t want to invade anybody’s life — we wanted to make a forum where those who want to be found can find each other, like these guys,” she says. “They just want to give these donors the opportunity to know them.”
Generation Cryo premieres Monday, Nov. 25, at 10/9CT on MTV.