They saw a man too comfortable in his power. If he truly believed he was doing nothing wrong, why did he deceive his patients? Colver was more measured. He said he understood the reluctance to disappoint a patient. Jones versus 30 years later having it come out like this. Liz White carries around a photo of herself in , beaming in a hospital bed with a baby boy in her arms. She is 30 in the photo. Matt figured it out before his mom did.
After four of the half siblings filed their complaints with the Indiana attorney general, the Fox59 reporter, Angela Ganote, asked the local prosecutor about Cline. Her inquiry led to a criminal investigation. In September , Ganote broke the news that Cline had been charged with two counts of felony obstruction of justice, and Matt—along with the rest of the public—learned what Cline had done.
Matt already knew he was donor-conceived. White remembers feeling bad for his dad then, but the revelation provoked no deep identity crisis. After Matt saw Cline in the news, he looked up the address. A DNA test confirmed what he already knew deep down. The resemblance between Matt and a young Cline is uncanny. They could be the same person. Over the next year, Matt and his newfound half siblings watched the criminal case against Cline unfold. No law in Indiana—or in most other states, for that matter—specifically forbids a doctor from using his own sperm in his patients.
They swabbed his mouth, and that was that. In the s, before anyone dreamed up mail-in DNA tests and internet genealogy sites, Cline must have thought no one would ever find out. As he faced the consequences now, he seemed to believe that he could make the whole mess go away by denying it with the full force of his being.
Tim DeLaney, the prosecutor in this case, told me he saw the original wrong as a transgression by a person in power. These people are lying. They have defamed me. It was the reaction of a person used to being powerful.
What particularly galled some of the siblings was how Cline used his faith as deflection. By all accounts, he is a very religious man—for his sentencing, several elders from his evangelical church wrote letters attesting to his character. After the restaurant meeting, Cline called Ballard to say her digging up the past was destroying his marriage: His wife considered his actions adultery. Several of the donor-conceived children and their mothers have also filed civil lawsuits against Cline. He still thinks about the case often.
For Matt White, watching all this play out awoke a sense of purpose. That gave him a sense of what his mother had gone through to have him.
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He understood why she felt violated. I met White, now 36, at a bakery in Indianapolis last November, the morning after the first storm of the season had shellacked the roads in ice. The day before, he and his mother and several of his half siblings had had a meeting with the president pro tempore of the Indiana Senate, Rodric Bray. It helped that his office was two blocks from the statehouse.ugihotapap.tk
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He could pop over for meetings. But a handful of other doctors have also been accused of secretly using their own sperm—in Connecticut, Virginia, Idaho, Vermont, and Canada. White was among those horrified, obviously. His mother contacted Jody Madeira, a law professor at Indiana University at Bloomington who has studied bioethics and reproductive medicine. Madeira took an interest in the case and helped write the fertility-fraud bill. It should be. Many of the children Cline fathered still live in Indianapolis, and they find themselves accidentally running into his family.
At the bakery where we met, White pointed straight ahead. I live down the street over there, and my mom lives in town here.
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He got sick to his stomach and walked out. The donor children have begun cataloging the ways their own paths have crossed, too.
White went to Purdue at the same time as one of his half brothers. One sibling sold another a wagon at a garage sale. Two of them lived on the same street. Two had kids on the same softball team. Did you never consider that? Cline has admitted to using his own sperm about 50 times, which is about the number of children who have been identified through DNA.
More may be out there, though—DNA testing is common but nowhere near ubiquitous. During the time I corresponded with his donor children, every few weeks one of them would tell me that another sibling had been found. In the fall, they started sending letters to Indiana legislators urging them to support the fertility-fraud bill. It was introduced in the general assembly, and seemed to be gaining momentum.
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In early January, White texted me to say he had sealed a batch of letters to legislators the night before, only to find two more siblings. He was going to add a note on the envelopes. But each new half sibling has dealt with the revelation in his or her own way. Losing the genetic connection with her father meant losing the story she had literally written about who she was and how she came to be. Kylene Gott, a year-old teacher from Indianapolis, was in the car with her mom when she revealed that Cline was her biological father.
She had wanted kids like that. A few weeks after we spoke, Amy emailed to say we had to talk. She made Tyler swear never to tell his dad. Joseph not his real name has a twin brother, but they look nothing alike. They have different personalities, too. True to their different personalities, they reacted in opposite ways. Joseph has been very involved with the Facebook group, while his twin wants nothing to do with it. Strangest of all, Joseph met a half brother who looks exactly like him—much more so than his actual twin.
They are just a few of the many people forging connections after the initial shock of a DNA surprise. Adoptees have reunited with their birth families. Donor-conceived children have found their biological fathers. And half siblings have met one another, creating new iterations of family entirely different from the traditional family unit their parents were seeking when they went to a fertility doctor.
But this was the big shebang. Tyler flew in for the day from Washington. Spouses and children came too. Matt rented out a picnic pavilion, and brought name tags because many of the siblings were meeting for the first time. Their numbers had almost tripled since the previous year. Everyone pitched in a little. One sibling brought a birthday cake, which was becoming a tradition.
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Kylene brought chips and salsa. Amy made pasta salad. Heather thought to bring much-needed packs of bottled water. Matt brought chicken wings, and he sweated over the grill cooking them. It was a hot day. Their kids ran through sprinklers. They climbed trees and got sticky with sap. From afar, it must have looked like any family reunion. Giving out your number may seem fairly innocuous, but it can have big consequences.