This is what has happened to scores of donor-conceived people in the Netherlands, where a fertility doctor has been accused of using his own sperm to inseminate patients without their consent.
To date, the specialist, Jan Karbaat, has been confirmed as the donor to 49 children.
DNA testing is currently trying to ascertain just how many women Jan Karbaat, who died two years ago, impregnated at his clinic just outside Rotterdam.
For his offspring, the journey has been long and difficult.
Jan Karbaat was first taken to court in 2017 by a group of donor-conceived people, when suspicions were sparked by physical similarities between the specialist and some children.
When Karbaat died in 2017, judges ruled that DNA tests could be carried out but said the results must be sealed pending the outcome of a different court cases.
Earlier this year, Rotterdam District Court ruled that the results of the DNA tests could be handed over, and as expected, seem to confirm that Karbaat had indeed used his own sperm in the clinic.
Some of the offspring have welcomed the clarity the results have provided them and their families.
Jan Karbaat once described himself “a pioneer in the field of fertilisation”, but has a less than squeaky clean record.
Karbaat’s clinic was closed in 2009 when he became the subject of allegations that he had falsified data and donor descriptions and exceeded the legally permitted number of six children per donor.