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The Real Housewives of New York City alum Jill Zarin and her daughter, Ally Shapiro, dropped a bombshell on Heather McDonald's podcast, Juicy Scoop with Heather McDonald: Ally was conceived by a sperm donor. Ally is Jill's daughter from her first marriage to ex-husband Steven Shapiro; the two later divorced and each remarried (Jill married Bobby Zarin, who passed away in 2018), but Steven and Jill maintained a good relationship.
When Steven and his second wife, with whom he had three boys, were getting divorced a few years ago, his wife — whom Jill claimed is a “drug alcoholic” — allegedly emailed Jill to ask a “question of the day,” asking, “Why is Ally the fattest in the Shapiro family? Why does Aly have blue eyes and no one else does? Why is she the shortest one?” The alleged email, which Jill said was also sent to 15 other family members, rattled her as she claimed she knew what the woman was referring to: that years earlier, when Steven and Jill were having trouble getting pregnant, they decided to use a sperm donor to conceive their daughter, Ally.
Jill and her first husband, Steven.
Jill said she received this email in April, but in August, Ally was snooping through Jill's email and found it. After confronting her mother about it, Jill sat her down, conferenced in Steven, and they told her the truth about her biological father.
"Never in a million years would have thought that. I had no inkling," Ally said, noting that she was "shocked" but was not mad at her parents; rather, she was mad at her stepmom "for all of this pain she was trying to cause us."
"She blackmailed me," Jill said, noting that it wasn't blackmail for money, but "emotional blackmail." "She just wanted to tell [Ally]."
"The worst conversation was my mom had to call her parents," Ally said. Jill's parents, Gloria and Saul, who appeared on RHONY, never knew that Jill and Steven had used a sperm donor; Ally said Gloria was "so mad" that Jill kept the secret.
Ally and her father, Steven Shapiro
As Jill explained, it was a different time: "This was many, many years ago, 27 years ago to be exact, and in those days, it was very early on in this whole sperm donor business, and at time, people said you just don't say anything. Just pretend it never happened. Do the insemination and have sex and pretend that's how you got pregnant. There was a shame to it back then... We were going to take it to our grave, nobody knew, and I mean nobody. And then eventually, I told Bobby and [Steven] told his horrible wife."
Jill shared that she never intended to tell Ally as she was concerned about Ally's feelings and also didn't want to interrupt her education (Ally was a senior in college at this point), but prior to Ally finding the alleged email, Jill claimed the stepmom contacted her and told her if she didn't tell Ally the truth, she would, as she wanted her son to know that Ally wasn't his biological sister before his bar mitzvah. Jill alleged she then hired an attorney, who contacted the stepmom, and they worked out an agreement for Steven and Jill to tell Ally when she graduated from college.
Five days after Ally found the email, her stepmom allegedly texted her to taunt her, asking her questions about why Ally didn't look like the rest of the Shapiro family. Although Jill felt "vengeful," she said she ultimately decided to just focus on her daughter and her well-being. (Jill and Ally say that after the stepmom got sober, she reached out to make amends, but Ally isn't ready to forgive her.)
After Ally found out about the sperm donor, she discovered a bunch of half-siblings conceived by the same donor that Steven and Jill had used. Bobby, Jill's late husband, had registered Ally on donorsiblingregistry.com, and found six siblings that way.
But there is a major plot twist: During Passover 2019, Ally had received a message through 23&Me from a different man, who found that he was a 52% genetic match — and it turned out that he was Ally's biological father. After years of communicating with her supposed half-siblings, Ally discovered that they don't actually have a father in common. The clinic had mixed up the sperm donors, and the sperm donor Steven and Jill had chosen, based on his physical characteristics being similar to Steven, wasn't actually used to conceive Ally.
"That's why he has blue eyes and he's not that tall," Jill said of the real biological donor. "The irony is, he lives maybe five blocks away from her... Personality-wise, he seems more like Ally than I am: he's calm, he's a listener, he's in the education world."
While Ally has connected with her half-sisters, she has yet to meet her biological father. "I'm just not in a rush," she explained. "I think a lot of this I didn't really have a say in. I didn't have a say in who my mom chose and didn't choose to be the sperm donor. I didn't have a say in when I was told or how I was told or who my siblings are now, and I feel like now I can choose now when I meet this guy, and relationships and boundaries... I think I want to meet him when the timing is right for both of us."
All in all, Jill reflected on the situation, and said ultimately, "I think I have a happy ending: I have a beautifully bright, articulate, fantastic girl, and I couldn't have asked for a better donor."
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