According to the Netflix documentary Our Father, Dr. Don Cline a fertility doctor who used his own sperm to inseminate patients without their consent. Jacoba Ballard began using a DNA test to uncover the truth about her origins and siblings.
Cline fathered at least 94 biological children, according to the documentary, but the exact number of children fathered is impossible to know. Ballard took a 23andMe test in 2014 and learned that she has seven half-siblings. She contacted the siblings to learn more about their mysterious family connection and found that each of the mothers had seen the same fertility doctor.
As more siblings began taking DNA tests, their information was added to the database and the number of siblings in the census grew. Every time a new compound was added to the database, Ballard prepared to break the news, she said in the documentary.
Here’s what you need to know:
One of Cline’s children, Heather Woock, spoke to The Atlantic in 2019, two years after she found out about her odd parentage through a barrage of Facebook messages from family members she never knew she had. At the time of her 2017 DNA test, an Ancestry.com database identified the number of Cline’s children as around 50. In 2022, the number is 94, according to the documentary.
The number of connections to ancestry databases would skyrocket after holidays like Christmas, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, the siblings told The Atlantic. DNA tests were often given as gifts that revealed family secrets.
Ballard told The Atlantic that she knew she had been conceived by a donor since she was 10, and as an adult she was curious to find half-siblings conceived by the same donor.
“I was thinking about one or two at most,” Ballard told The Atlantic.
Ballard said in the documentary she would contact her half-siblings after learning about their ties to ancestry databases.
“I know I’m going to call her and ruin her life,” Ballard said in the documentary.
The half-siblings keep in touch via a Facebook group.
Our Father speculated that Cline may have had religious motives behind his actions due to his affiliation with Quiverfull, an extremist sect of Christianity that encourages its followers to procreate as much as possible. The Quiverfull website quotes Psalm 127:3-5.
The Bible passage says:
The website states that they “offer encouragement and practical help to those who are seeking to raise a large and growing godly family in today’s world!” Quiverfull also writes that they welcome families of all sizes.
“We glorify Jesus Christ as Lord and recognize His guidance in all areas of our lives, including fertility. We exist to serve the believers who trust the Lord regarding family size and to answer the questions of those seeking truth in this critical area of marriage,” the website reads. “Whether your quiver is big or small, you are welcome.”