Blonde woman who ‘stuck out like a sore thumb’ in her Orthodox Jewish community learns her real dad is a STRANGER after fertility doctors in the 1960s mixed two sperm samples ‘to spare her infertile father’s blushes’
- Writer Dani Shapiro, 56, recounts in a new memoir about the DNA test that led to the shocking discovery that her dad was not biologically her father
- Shapiro, raised in an Orthodox Jewish family found that nearly half of her DNA result came from French, Irish, English and German origins
- Her parents had gone to a fertility specialist in Philadelphia where they apparently mixed donors in a practice called ‘confused artificial insemination’
An author explores a strange and surprising story in a new book about her own heritage growing up as an Orthodox Jew only to find out her lineage was not at all what she was led to believe.
Dani Shapiro, 56, the author of Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love, always thought Wall Street stockbroker Paul Shapiro, who died in a car accident in 1986, had been her father until she took a DNA test in 2016.
‘It upended my world,’ said Shapiro in an interview with the New York Post.
Her mother Irene had once told her she had received fertility help, which Shapiro uncovered happened at the Farris Institute for Parenthood in Philadelphia, long since closed.
Paul Shapiro’s sperm was apparently mixed with an anonymous donation to inseminate Irene in a process called ‘confused artificial insemination.’
‘It was to protect the presumably fragile ego of the intended father because infertility was seen as a weakness,’ Dani Shapiro said. ‘The parents were told: ‘Don’t tell anyone, not even the doctor who delivers your child.”
Dani Shapiro, left, accomplished author of novels and memoirs, tells the story of finding out her genetic lineage in her new book
Paul Shapiro with young Dani Shapiro, seen here, was a Wall Street stockbroker and the only father Dani had known until she happened to take a commercial DNA test in 2016
Her eventual DNA results would reflect her mother’s Jewish heritage, but also a background of French, Irish, English and German origins.
Dani Shapiro says she ‘stuck out like a sore thumb’ in her community of mostly Eastern European Ashkenazi Jews, and was once grabbed by Rae Kushner, Holocaust survivor who would eventually become Jared Kushner’s grandmother.
‘We could have used you in the ghetto, little blondie,’ Kushner told her at the time. ‘You could have gotten us bread from the Nazis.’
Shapiro did not know what to make of her conspicuous physical differences until she got tested with Ancestry.com after her mother’s death and looked deeper into her own history.
Dani Shapiro, seen here with Paul Shapiro, knew that she physically looked out of place among the mostly Eastern-European Ashkenazi Jews she grew up around
While Shapiro did eventually track down and meet her biological father and his family, she still considers Paul Shapiro to have been her real father
With the help of her journalist husband, Shapiro would eventually track down the man who was her biological father. The father of three had donated sperm to the Farris Institute in 1961 when he had been a medical student.
Since then they met in October of 2016 and have been introduced to each other’s families, maintaining a relationship.
Throughout the experience, Shapiro still believes Paul Shapiro had been her real father, but she is still troubled how easily these secrets could have remained buried without modern technology and the fact that her parents are no longer here to say anything.
‘The kits hung around the kitchen for weeks until we finally opened them,’ she recalled about the DNA tests. ‘That’s how casual the whole thing was.’