CITRUS COUNTY, Fla. — A Citrus County teenager is on a mission to create a safe space for donor conceived children to come together and support one another.

Seventeen-year-old McKenzie Helton couldn't believe it when her parents told her the man who raised her wasn't her biological father. 

"After about five minutes or so I just completely panicked. I would definitely say I was having a panic attack," McKenzie said. 

Unable to conceive on their own, McKenzie's parents used a sperm donor to have her, and waited until she was older to tell her. 

"I was so shocked that my parents kept such a crucial part of my identity hidden from me for almost 17 years,” McKenzie said. 

Her mom, Pamela Helton, encouraged her to reach out to other kids going through the same thing, but the only support groups she could find were online. 

That's when she decided to start her own in-person support group with a plan to meet monthly in Tampa.

"I think it's great. Her trying to do that may help a child who is feeling the same way she is and in turn that helps her so they help each other," Pamela Helton said. 

"Families come in many different ways. Whatever she needs to help her feel OK about, it she knows one thing. Her father and I are here for her," she added. 

And McKenzie said now her family's bond is stronger than ever. 

"I love my mom and my dad so much and I couldn't have asked for a better set of parents," McKenzie explained. 

If you're interested in joining this new group, you can reach out to McKenzie at