People sometimes find love in the most unexpected places; you only have to watch a rom-com to know that. After all, would Julia Roberts have met Richard Gere in Pretty Woman had she not been standing on that street corner? Probably not. But for Jessica Share and Aaron Long, their relationship actually began years after they’d had a child together.
Their story starts with Jessica. In 2005 Jessica was in a happy marriage with a woman who has not been publicly named. The pair had decided that they wanted to start a family and so considered using sperm donors to make their dream come true. They therefore started looking at potential individuals who could father their child.
And after much searching, the couple found an anonymous donor who seemingly had qualities that they liked the look of. He reportedly has a healthy-looking medical history, for instance, and is of average weight. A fan of sports, the donor had also made a living as a musician and taxi driver, has brown hair and had studied literature.
So he seemed like the man for the job. What Jessica and her wife didn’t know at the time, though, was that the donor’s name is Aaron Long. And Aaron had used sperm donation simply to make an extra bit of cash. In 2005, in fact, he had just returned from a year abroad, had moved in with his mom and was still figuring out what direction to take his life in.
Donating his sperm had meant good money for Aaron, then. And in an article he wrote for The New York Times in 2018, he described the process. “‘Donors’ is the standard industry word, yet virtually all of us are paid. Forty dollars a pop was what I received in 1994,” he wrote. He’d carried on doing it for a year, too, while he’d been in a long-distance relationship. He openly described it as “a good outlet” in the article.
So in 2005 Aaron’s donation blessed Jessica and her wife with a child, Alice. Then months later, her wife fell pregnant again thanks to the donor, and the couple had another girl. Interestingly, though, these are just two of the estimated 67 children whom Aaron has fathered.
Throughout this time, however, Jessica and her wife never saw an actual photo of their donor, nor did they want to. Jessica’s wife actually told BBC Stories in January 2019 that she’d never wanted her children to get in contact with Aaron, let alone meet him. For the couple, then, he was just a donor and nothing more.
The pair subsequently raised their two daughters, who are biologically half-sisters, for three years – and then they suddenly split. The decision, it seems, took Jessica completely by surprise. “There had been no conflict in our family, so I was shocked and heartbroken,” she told the BBC.
According to Jessica, the worst part was that her ex-wife didn’t want to discuss their split. “She said she did not want to talk about it, and there was nothing I could do to repair our marriage,” Jessica said. So, seemingly stunned and devastated, Jessica turned her mind to other matters regarding the welfare of their daughters.
After Jessica and her ex-wife broke up, then, they split the childcare between them. Yet the former said she looked after them for the majority of the time. “I continued parenting the sisters five days a week for a few years,” she told the BBC. “But when Alice was ten, my ex-partner blocked [her] on her phone, cut off all contact with her and refused to return her younger sister following a vacation.”
Meanwhile, Aaron, who is now an executive assistant at the Low Income Housing Institute in Seattle, had moved on with his life. “After a year of selling my sperm, I went back to giving it away and largely forgot about the whole thing,” he wrote in The New York Times. “Occasionally the subject of whether I had children would come up, and I’d make a joke about probably having a bunch.”
Aaron had, you see, agreed that he’d be completely anonymous and was barred from seeking custody of any children his sperm helped to produce. When he’d started donating, in fact, he had signed a nondisclosure waiver and didn’t believe he’d be able to meet his progeny.
However, in the early 2000s Aaron began trying to track his biological offspring down using the magical power of the internet. He’d spotted a site called 23andMe, which provides information about ancestry and relatives. And all they needed was a small sample of saliva for analysis.
Aaron then deliberated about whether to take the leap of faith or not. “The opportunity was obvious, but I assumed the odds of finding my children were low,” he continued in The New York Times. “I procrastinated for months before curiosity and an urge to know them made me order a kit.”
And when the results came back, Aaron was overjoyed to find out that he had a biological son called Bryce. To make doubly sure, though, he seemingly searched his name online and got an accurate result. Aaron then reportedly discovered that Bryce looked just like him. But now he faced an even bigger question: should he contact him or not?
Aaron agonized over that decision for a week until he reportedly went ahead and contacted Bryce. And he recounted the letter in his New York Times piece. “Dear Bryce,” it read. “I recently joined 23andMe and found you listed as my ‘son,’ so I believe myself to be your biological father. I hope my existence isn’t a shock and wonder whether you joined in hopes of connecting with me.”
Aaron apparently didn’t have to wait long for a reply back from Bryce, either. The response reportedly read, “Dad, I cannot express how excited I am to be hearing from you. I did join 23andMe hoping that you would have already done so and was upset to see you hadn’t. This is amazing, though, and I’m so happy.”
But Bryce’s letter then revealed more biological children that Aaron had been totally unaware of. “I’m one of six of your children that I’m aware of and in contact with. I’m 20 years old and live on Long Island, but I’m studying in upstate New York,” he continued. So it looked like Aaron had got more than he’d bargained for.
And to say Aaron was shocked would be an understatement. Yet following on from his conversation with Bryce, he then apparently worked out that he could have had fathered up to 67 children. But he was still reportedly keen to connect with the biological children he did know about, and Bryce even helped him get in touch with one such woman called Madalyn.
Amusingly, Aaron even responded to his new-found biological child in the most unexpected fashion. He described seeing Madalyn’s Facebook page, for instance, and thinking that she should “put some more clothes on.” Aaron was actually struck by how he’d reacted to Madalyn’s picture; he said it was his “first parental thought ever.”
Then, in 2016, Jessica’s daughter Alice expressed an interest in finding her biological father. Aged just 11, she had in fact asked for a DNA kit for Christmas. The young girl subsequently submitted the results, and two months later she discovered that she had a 50 percent match for Aaron as her father and a 25 percent match with Bryce as her brother.
Jessica then apparently went online and used Aaron’s medical history to have a look at Alice’s potential father. And when she came across him, she said, she was unequivocal. “There was no doubt,” she told the BBC. “My daughters make that stupid face.”
Jessica and Aaron then began talking online, getting to know each other and sharing stories on the process of sperm donation and insemination. Aaron apparently found it particularly interesting learning about self-impregnation and the complexity of Jessica’s role in the process, compared to his relatively simple one. The pair also started talking about more personal things that drew them closer together.
Aaron then reportedly sent a 50-page long history of his life, which Jessica told the BBC she “devoured.” They also shared information about their current circumstances. So Jessica told Aaron that she didn’t now consider herself a lesbian and, in a strange twist, had a boyfriend with the same first and middle name as him.
Aaron had also been getting to know his other biological children, and they had exchanged written biographies too. “Bryce’s showed me how little I know of young adult culture and reminded me that one’s 20s are a difficult decade,” he revealed. “[Madalyn’s] revealed a keen understanding of her upbringing and the parts of it she would like to break from. But it was Alice’s [biography]… that floored me.”
You see, young Alice reportedly seemed preoccupied with dark thoughts. Aaron wrote that when asked what her favorite color was, Alice had said, “Black. Like my soul.” Meanwhile, her favorite holiday, Aaron related, was “Halloween (because candy and murder).”
Jessica and Aaron then started to talk about meeting up in Seattle at the latter’s home. Aaron actually saw this as a fantastic excuse to have a party. In his New York Times article, he explained that he had never had a wedding, so this party was his equivalent. “I had told my news to a few people, but most learned of it from the “Meet My Kids Party” Facebook invitation, featuring photos of Bryce, Madi and Alice. The shock value was high,” Aaron said.
In fact, it was a momentous event for all involved. Aaron was meeting his biological kids for the first time, after all, and they were meeting one another too. Yet Aaron later revealed that he loved them straight away. Whether it was paternal instinct or not, he doesn’t know, but in the end it didn’t matter; they all got on like a house on fire.
Indeed, Aaron made many observations about his progeny, and he recounted them in his article. He noted, for instance, that Bryce was a quick-witted meme addict, Alice “has little use for adults,” and he and Madi shared the same sense of humor.
This unusual family unit then began to spend more time together and even formed strong relationships. And later Jessica and Aaron decided to take everyone on a vacation together. It was around this time, too, that Jessica and her boyfriend, also called Aaron, were breaking up.
Meanwhile, Aaron and Jessica realized that they also shared a special bond. The former wrote, “The first time Jess and I found ourselves alone, we hugged at length in a way entirely inappropriate for people who had just met. Jess says I have mannerisms that remind her of both of her daughters and thus felt instantly comfortable with me.”
Aaron reportedly couldn’t therefore help thinking that this was all meant to be. “Whether we were pawns of fate or unwitting participants in a chromosomally arranged marriage, Jess and I quickly bonded,” Aaron wrote.
And, with their own relationship growing stronger, the pair seemingly slipped easily into parental roles while on their vacation. The trip also meant that they became a tighter family unit. Aaron continued, “We soon had in-jokes and teased each other about our foibles, just like any family. I even gave Bryce and [Madalyn] a lecture about smoking.”
Then, after the vacation, another event occurred that brought Jessica and Aaron even closer. “Bryce somehow managed to get Jess and Alice kicked out of the house they were renting by climbing onto the roof to retrieve a toy,” Aaron wrote. So, as a short-term solution, Jessica and Alice moved into Aaron’s house until they sorted something out.
But Jessica soon found that she rather liked staying with Aaron – and has reportedly moved in permanently. The pair have found happiness with each other, it seems, and even Alice apparently couldn’t argue too much with that. Aaron actually wrote that Alice just “rolled her eyes as if she had been tricked into a traditional family arrangement.”
So Jessica and Aaron are very aware that they didn’t meet in the most traditional way. Nevertheless, the pair are seemingly just happy to have met at all. “While 23andMe is not generally considered a dating site, Jess and I are grateful to the technology that has made our backward-formed relationship possible,” Aaron wrote.
The couple’s relationship has, according to Aaron, out-lasted the “how-cool-is-this phase” too. And Jessica now even takes an active interest in the other children that Aaron has fathered through donating his sperm. At the time that Aaron penned his article for The New York Times in September 2018, in fact, he’d found ten biological children that he knew of.
Meanwhile, Aaron is enjoying having Jessica and Alice living in his home in Seattle. They even reportedly welcomed Madalyn sometime afterwards when she took a fancy to the West Coast and decided to move in with them. And they’re apparently still hoping that Bryce might follow her lead.
Despite their remarkable beginnings, then, Aaron thinks that the basis of his and Jessica’s relationship is really very simple. “In the end, the sci-fi trappings of our love story are irrelevant: Jess and I work as a couple because we like spending time together. I suppose it doesn’t hurt that I happen to be the father of her child,” he wrote.
The couple’s unique story subsequently caught the attention of the media worldwide, and the family have dealt with it very well too. “I’m into the media right now. I guess it’s fun,” Madalyn told The Seattle Times in January 2019. So whether Jessica and Aaron would have formed the same relationship had they met on the street like in a rom-com, it hardly matters. They now, after all, have the family they always wanted.