You never know when a simple question will lead to a nationwide quest for thousands of people seeking the same answers. This journey was led by a local teen.
Ryan Kramer’s quest to find his biological father led him and his mother, Wendy, to create the Donor Sibling Registry in 2000. It started out small, personal and now has expanded into a six-episode MTV docu-drama which will air in November.
The show, Generation Cryo, explores the issues faced by a new generation of children coming of age who were conceived via anonymous sperm donors and are redefining what it means to be a family. Ryan and Wendy Kramer are Nederland residents, and their non-profit DSR has exploded from one teen’s search for his father to a nationwide resource for the progeny of sperm donors.
Exploring the ramifications of one man fathering hundreds of children, Generation Cryo introduces sperm-donor children and the issues they face in this series. What happens when a bunch of children dig into their biological beginnings and the consequences for the sperm donor who chose anonymity.
Ryan was born in May 1990 after his Wendy became pregnant with sperm from a California Cryobank. Wendy was always open about Ryan’s biological father and shared what information she had about the man who gave her a son. Early on she realized that Ryan’s rocket-science intelligence did not come from her.
At an early age, Ryan began to stand out in the classroom. He began his education at Mountain Child Montessori School in Nederland and then moved around to various elementary and middle schools looking for the challenges he needed to satisfy his academic prowess.
By second grade, Ryan was delving into robotics and genetics. His biological father was an engineering student when he donated the sperm that gave Ryan his life.
At the age of 14, Ryan was a senior at Ute Creek High School, taking the bus from Nederland to Longmont every day. By this time he knew he wanted to study aerospace engineering. In May of 2011, when Ryan was 19 years old, he graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in aerospace engineering, probably the youngest in the country to do so.
As focused as he was on his studies, Ryan was also intent on another passion: finding his biological father. In 2000, the Kramers began a search, not just for his father, but for the chance that Ryan may have siblings who were also curious about their biological roots.
The Donor Sibling Registry was formed and was soon being contacted by sperm-donor children from all over the country. Wendy and Ryan appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and made personal appearances on talk shows, putting the word out, and always asking for information about the man who fathered him.
By 2011, the web site claimed 27,000 members, 7,000 of whom connected with their half siblings. One can well imagine the conflict, the joy and the drama that uniting half siblings can bring. Bringing together a father and his children he never met is the stuff reality shows are made of, and the Kramers have an unending list of possible outcomes.
In September 2011, the documentary leading to the series was produced on the Style Network. Wendy said: “We worked very hard to make this a thoughtful and thought-provoking show. We hoped the viewers were able to consider the perspectives of the offspring, the donors, the parents, the grandparents and the partners of the donors. We hope that people can understand why meeting a half-sister might be important to a donor-conceived person. As we are all redefining family on the DSR, it’s important that those embarking on creating their family in this way, as well the industry, and the public, consider and ponder the issues about how families are redefined through using donor conception.”
The documentary was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2011. The new DSR TV series will document the journey of Breanna, a 17-year-old only child who recently logged onto the DSR and discovered she has at least 15 half-siblings, all fathered by a man none of them know. It is Bree’s mission to meet all of her half-brothers and sisters and lead them on a nationwide search to find their biological father.
The show will premiere in November and the Kramers are now filming six episodes. Wendy is the producer and Ryan will be on the show via Skype, giving advice to teens who are looking for their fathers. For more information contact Wendy Kramer at 303-258-0902 or www.donorsiblingregistry.com
Wendy has also written a book to help donor-conceived children and siblings, “Finding Our Families: A First-Of-Its-Kind Book for Donor-Conceived People and Their Families,” which will go on sale on Dec. 3.