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You Can't Choose Your Family...Can You? Sound Effect, Episode 193

Adrian Florez

This week on Sound Effect, our theme is “You Can’t Choose Your Family...Can You?” We’re bringing you stories of family ties that go beyond blood, but still help define who we are and where we come from. First, a middle-aged woman learns she was conceived using an unexpected sperm donor. A bookseller searches for someone to take over his business and learns something surprising about himself. A resilient young woman balances college and guardianship of her younger siblings. Finally, a local doctor shares his journey of adopting a daughter from Kazakhstan.


Suzan Mazor was in her 40s when she found out that she had been conceived using donor sperm. It was the first she had ever heard of it.

She’d never felt a strong connection to the man she thought was her father, so it didn’t feel like she was losing something. If anything, it had opened up a world of possibility.

She decided to do a little digging. And she started to learn what it was like for someone like her mom, an infertile woman, in the 1960s. More on this story from Posey Gruener.


After his decades-long career, in which he built up a bookstore and earned widespread recognition in the industry, Louis Collins turned his attention to his legacy. Who would take over the business when he’s gone? 

Collins found his answer in a friend, a guy by the name of Bill Wolfe. The two started working together, but didn't become clear until years later that what Collins wanted wasn't just someone to run his business. He was looking for family. More on this story from Max Wasserman


A good way to picture Autumn Adams is in her crimson cap and gown. This past spring, she graduated from Central Washington University in Ellensburg. And by her side were two people: her 14-year-old brother John and her 10-year-old sister Kaya.

There’s nothing unusual about family showing up for a big milestone like this. But Autumn’s family is a little different. Her younger siblings have been there with her, on campus, for most of her college education. Jennifer Wing tells us why


When Sam Blackman first met his adopted baby daughter in 2007, the pediatrician and first-time father says he did the one thing he knew instinctively how to do: examine her from head to toe. 

Sam and his wife had adopted their daughter from Kazakhstan. They brought her back to the U.S. where they adjusted her birth certificate, officially joining her to their family. They were ecstatic. 

“But what I didn’t know at the time is that there was a hole in her heart,” Sam told a live audience during Sound Effect’s storytelling event in June.

Kari Plog is a former KNKX reporter who covered the people and systems in Pierce, Thurston and Kitsap counties, with an emphasis on police accountability.