US woman reveals how she found out her dad was a secret sperm donor who has fathered ‘possibly 100 siblings’ – and her lesbian cult-leader mother only told her after fearing she was dating her half-brother
- Chrysta Bilton, 37, endured a chaotic childhood in Los Angeles with her mother Debra – a lesbian who flitted in and out of cults – and her younger sister Kaitlyn
- Debra broke news when Bilton was 23 that the sisters might have ‘a few siblings’ after reading an article about their dad, Jeffrey Harrison’s sperm donation
- She was horrified to discover she’d dated her half-brother – after dozens of women fell pregnant after paying Harrison – known as donor 150 – for his sperm
- After a journey of acceptance – including inviting her extended family over for dinner – Bilton, now a mother-of-two, has written a memoir, A Normal Family
An extraordinary new memoir tells the story of how a woman discovered she has at least 40 siblings – and possibly over 100 – after finding out her father had secretly donated sperm to dozens of women.
Chrysta Bilton, who grew up in Los Angeles, was just 23 and a recent graduate in 2007 when she made the extraordinary discovery that her father Jeffrey Harrison – who had himself donated sperm to her lesbian mother – had gone on to also father many more children.
Her new book, A Normal Family: The Surprising Truth About My Crazy Childhood (and How I Discovered 35 New Siblings), is released in the UK this week and takes the reader through the dramatic twists of her unique life, from a chaotic childhood living with a mother who was involved in pyramid scams and cults, to the discovery that she had ‘possibly over a hundred’ siblings.
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Chrysta Bilton, 37, grew up in Los Angeles with her mother Debra – a lesbian who flitted in and out of cults – and her younger sister Kaitlyn
Jeffrey Harrison, aka donor 150, was paid $2,000 by Bilton’s mother Debra in the early 80s for his sperm…he then continued to donate via the California Cyrobank, earning between $300 and $400 a month
The book is described as a ‘love letter’ to her mother Debra, now 75, who only told her daughters the truth about their father Jeffrey Harrison – who was known as ‘donor 150’ – and the families he’d created – after realising that her elder daughter was dating her half brother.
Bilton and her younger sister had spent their childhood oscillating between periods of ‘extreme wealth and extreme poverty’ she told The Times in an interview this week, saying the siblings had lived in both mansions and impoverished circumstances, as their mother dated different women and joined several cults.
The book also reveals how Debra had also been involved in marketing pyramid scams – leading the family to live in ‘giant mansions in Los Angeles to being homeless’ in a few short years.
Debra, now 75, sat her daughters down at 23 and broke news the sisters might have ‘a few siblings’ after reading an article about their father, Jeffrey Harrison’s sperm donation (Pictured: Chrysta Bilton with her mother during her childhood)
Bilton, with her younger sister Kaitlyn, right, during their chaotic childhood. Of the moment she discovered her father had been donor 150, she said: ‘My sister and I didn’t know whether to cry or laugh, it was all so absurd.’
Keen to have children of her own, Debra had paid Harrison $2,000 for his sperm and asked him to play a part in her daughters’ lives, which he did…but didn’t reveal that he’d gone on to continue to sell his sperm to other women.
Using the California Cryobank, Harrison would make between $300 and $400 a month from donating sperm, and it’s estimated that he has around 100 biological children.
In the book, she shares how her mother broke the news to the sisters about their potential extended family: ‘Your father was secretly a sperm donor and you have a few biological brothers and sisters.’
Now a mother herself, Bilton has a five year old and seven year old with her husband Nick, a British journalist
A half-sibling of Bilton’s shared a photo of the extended family meeting up on Instagram
‘My sister and I didn’t know whether to cry or laugh, it was all so absurd. If this was going to happen to anyone, of course it would be us. That was just the crazy life we lived.’
Out this week, Bilton’s book documents her childhood and the discovery of donor 150 in her early twenties
On Woman’s Hour, Bilton said she now feels differently about her extended family and has even had many of them over to her home for dinner.
She told the BBC Radio 2 programme ahead of the book’s publication this week: ‘I think we’re up to 40 now but we expect maybe over 100.’
She said her father was ‘a complex man’ who’d struggled with mental health issues and periods of homelessness.
Bilton told the show that said her brief relationship with her half-brother ‘is what happens when sperm donation isn’t regulated and you have a lot of half-siblings’.
The mother-of-two says it took her ten years ‘to get over the trauma’ of the revelation but she’s now accepting of her unconventional family.
‘I invited them all to come and see me at my house and my attitude has changed towards it and now I see them as this extended biological family.’
A Normal Family: The Surprising Truth About My Crazy Childhood (and How I Discovered 35 New Siblings) by Chrysta Bilton is published by Monoray, priced £16.99