Twinsters: A Movie Review

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Imagine that a friend sends you a Youtube link to check out. You open it only to find that it features you… except that you never did what you see in the recording. There’s someone out there who looks and moves exactly like you. Could you possibly have a long-lost twin?

This is how Anaïs learned that she might have a biological sister. Samantha was adopted from South Korea when she was and raised across the Atlantic Ocean. The story of how Anaïs and Samantha learned of each other, connected, and eventually met is shared with us in intimate documentary form in Twinsters, currently streaming on Netflix in the US.

Twinsters Movie flier. A remarkable story of identical twins separated at birth.

My 11-year-old identical twin daughters and I watched this movie together. We knew all along that the two young women would confirm through DNA testing that they were identical twins. Still, we were swept up in the suspense as they waited for answers.

As we got to know Samantha and Anaïs, one American, one French, both adopted, both artists, my daughters couldn’t help but reflect on their own relationship, a connection they hold sacred and special. In one of her frequent jaw-dropping insights, M wondered out loud whether twins raised apart might become more alike than those raised together. After all, she pointed out, they don’t have the same pressures on them to claim their unique identities. She’s well aware that both she and her sister sometimes make choices simply to be different from one another.

Although you might be tempted to head over to Netflix immediately to watch this movie with your young children, I offer a word of caution. Samantha has a foul mouth, and Anaïs’ isn’t much better. There is a lot of casual profanity in this movie, so if that is something that bothers you, save Twinsters for the grownups. My kids are mature enough to know that hearing F-bombs used by others doesn’t make using them acceptable in our family. They had already had exposure to these words at school. (In fact, the only profanity allowed in our home, by order of my daughter J, is “Brad Dingleman.” Jenny Lawson fans will get the reference.) Still, we discussed how uncomfortable her language made us feel and I reiterated that her swearing choices made it harder for us to connect with her.

Twin expert Nancy Segal, who has been kind enough to guest post for us in the past, plays a prominent role in helping Anaïs and Sam find answers. Her understanding of twin relationships, in all their guises, has literally filled books. Even more than her presence on the screen, her understanding of twin relationships and what can make them so wondrous is apparent throughout the film.

One huge thing we loved about this story is that it wasn’t just about discovering twin identity. The young women also explored their identities as adoptees, as South Korean in name only, as infants given up by a woman who still insists that they were never born to her. They reconnected with the Korean women who fostered them as infants. They don’t share a language with these women, but they do share love, compassion, and gratitude.

While not a primary focus of Twinsters, we also get some insight into how Sam and Anaïs’ families deal with the shock of discovering that they have another family member out there. Obviously, families with adopted children are already ready to open their hearts to atypical relationships. Nonetheless, my heart warmed at seeing the way in which Anaïs gained not only a sister, but all her sister’s brothers too. I can’t even imagine the feelings the parents had, realizing that there was another child out there that could have easily been theirs.

The thing about real life is that it doesn’t have neat endings. The circumstances of their birth and the reasons they were split up continue to be mysteries to Anaïs and Sam. Sam embraced the exploration of her history more easily than Anaïs, for whom adoption presented a greater trauma than it did for Sam. In each other, though, they both found healing and joy.

Take the time watch Twinsters (without the kids, please) and let us know what you think!

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Celebrate Multiples with the TODAY Show on June 22

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Categories Celebrations, Multiples in the NewsTags 1 Comment

Do you live near New York City? Do you have multiple friends or MoM friends in the area?

The TODAY Show is kicking off a series looking at the joys of being a multiple and want you to be part of the celebration! June 22, 2015 is the big day.

I have a feeling this is going to be the next biggest thing after Twins Days in Twinsburg.

Here’s what the TODAY Show has to say:

We want to fill our plaza with twins… triplets… and quads on Monday, June 22nd. Adults, teens, tweens and babies all invited! So, if you’re a mom of multiples or a multiple yourself come on down and help us show off the bond you have.

If you know you can make it – pre-register so we can look out for you! Here are the instructions:

  1. Go to http://visit.today.com/
  2. Click “RSVP” at the top of the page.
  3. Create a TODAY account by filling out the information you see on the screen. Then, press “Next” at the bottom of the page.
  4. When prompted to choose the date you’re coming. (Choose June 22).
  5. When prompted to select a reason for coming, please choose “Other.” Below that, please write TWINS and provide a short description about you and your sibling(s).
  6. Below that, check whether or not you have special needs, and whether or not you’ve visited the plaza before.
  7. In the “Upload Photo” spot, please upload a file of you and your sibling or your multiples.
  8. Press “Complete RSVP” — and you’re done!

If you end up going, drop us a note to let us know about the experience. We’d love to hear all about it and see your great photos!

Spread the word!

Show up in NYC to join other twins, triplets, and quads for the TODAY Show. June 22, 2015. RSVP at http://visit.today.com/.

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Twinsburg Movie in the Works

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Categories Friendships with Other Multiples, Independence, Individuality, Multiples in the NewsLeave a comment

Twin celebration season is right around the corner.

Next week, the Multiples of America (formerly NOMOTC) will be holding their annual convention right here in Austin. Will I see any of you there?

Twins Days in Twinsburg Ohio is at the beginning of next month. Jen B has taken her kids in the past. Jen W’s family are regulars. Have you ever been?

This year, twin brothers are even filming a movie there, a movie about twinhood, interdependence and independence. “TWINSBURG is a dramatic comedy about identical brothers reconnecting at the world’s largest gathering of twins.

We recently received an email from Jessica Kelly telling us about the movie Twinsburg.

I’m part of a small crew of folks from the San Francisco Bay Area who are making a short film about two twins who grow apart and find themselves reconnecting at the Twins Days festival in Ohio. Since I got to read all of your twins-love, I thought we could share some of ours!

We’d love to hear your thoughts and gain some support as well. Let us know what you think!

Identical twin Joe Garrity and fellow Bay Area multiples need your help making a short film this summer at the Twins Days Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio! We’re crowd-funding our production budget and asking friends and families of twins to help make this independent project about twins, by twins, a reality. Check out the Kickstarter page, pledge your donations, and help spread the word!

You can also follow the movie on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram: @twinsburgmovie

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Thank You, Derrick Coleman

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Categories Congenital Anomaly, Multiples in the NewsTags 2 Comments

I am no sports fan. I managed to completely forget that the Super Bowl was yesterday until a friend pointed it out when I invited her family over to dinner Sunday night.

I am, however, a fan of Derrick Coleman, player for the Seattle Seahawks (my daughters’ team, by the way, thanks to a Daddy and Grampy who are fans).

Here’s why.


See more US News from ABC|ABC World News

I could probably write a ton about why it’s important for people in the public eye to show compassion and generosity. I could go on and on about how important is it to see people with disabilities in professions unrelated to their disabilities. I could go on forever about why it’s important to acknowledge the challenges faced by those with special needs while at the same time letting them know that they can accomplish great things. But the video says it all.

Thank you, Derrick Coleman.

So, be honest. Did you cry watching this too?

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Identical Twins, Separated at Birth by 7000 Miles

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Categories Adoption, Identical, Multiples in the News4 Comments

I just heard a story on the radio show The World that made me pull over in the nearest parking lot. I wanted to concentrate on the story and wasn’t sure I could trust my driving until I’d gathered my thoughts. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

A young American man, Dan Matthews, was adopted from South Korea when he was an infant. After many years of choosing not to, he decided to see whether the adoption agency involved could help him locate his birth parents. When they responded, he learned that not only were his birth parents still married, he had a sister and a twin brother. Genetic testing eventually found them to be identical twins.

I confess that I’m as fascinated as the next person by stories of twins separated at birth. I often wonder about how many of my identical daughters’ similarities can be chalked up to simply being raised in the same home with the same set of expectations. Looking at twins who never crossed paths between birth and adulthood is a window into what sorts of things genetics can contribute to. That said, I expect those stories to be about older people, from a time before people understood how much a newborn can understand, from a time before people understood that the twin bond starts in utero.

I look at my daughters, M and J. I see the primacy that Sister holds in their lives. As they tell me, frequently, “Sissy is the importantest person in my life.” They get on each other’s nerves more often than I like to admit, but they share a bond that I can only watch and wonder at. I will never experience anything so visceral, intense, and beautiful. The mother-child bond comes close, but the twin bond as something else.

Separating multiples, whether identical or fraternal, seems to me to be a form of abuse. Dan, the American brother, is impressive in his forgiveness. He says that although he’s never asked directly why his birth parents chose to relinquish their rights to raise him, he suspects that they were unable to afford his early medical care.

The two brothers-by-birth-only are both rappers. They share quirks such as the way they eat. It sounds like Dan’s parents are wonderful ones, supportive and accepting. Perhaps he wouldn’t have survived had his birth parents been responsible for his infant medical care. Perhaps separating the brothers was the right call.

What I know is that I, having seen twinship up close and personal, would never in a million years want my daughters or any other multiples to be raised separately unless they so choose. When my ex and I divorced, there was no question that the girls would stay together, whichever parent were to raise them. My sister is adopted. Her biological mother was a child herself, so my sister probably has biological siblings out there in the world. I don’t consider that separation to be abusive. There is something special about multiples. I’m pretty sure I thought that even before I got to join the exclusive club that is the twin universe.

What are your thoughts on separating twins to be raised by different parents? Does it make a difference if they’re fraternal as opposed to identical?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school in order to better protect their privacy and was delighted to have the opportunity to keep a foot in the blogosphere through HDYDI. She also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

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Twice Upon a Time: A Fairy Tale Weekend in Twinsburg, Ohio

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Categories Celebrations, Fraternal, Higher-Order Multiples, Identical, Multiples in the News, Parenting, Travel5 Comments

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We just returned home from our family’s 4th annual trip to Twinsburg, OH for the Annual Twins Days Festival. My Twin Boys are three, we went the first time when they were 9 months old. I have written here on HDYDI about Twins Days before, but it is just so much fun I wanted to share it again. Every year the festival is the first full weekend in August in the Ohio town of Twinsburg. (Near Cleveland) Twins (and triplets and more!) come from around the world to celebrate their twinship, meet other twins and partake in the festivities. It is such a fun weekend and we have met so many amazing people. So many adult twins we have met have shared how special the weekend is to them, and one duo we met said how the rest of the people in their family have weddings and birthdays and celebrations, but for them, Twins Days is their best time. 

We drive from Chicago for the weekend, leaving early Friday morning, arriving in time for the Welcome Wiener Roast for twins and their families on Friday evening. Waiting in line that evening to pick up our registration packet for our boys, a new mom of twins behind me in line said she couldn’t stop giggling and staring, she said it felt like the Twilight Zone where there was two of everyone. I told her we felt the same way our first year, as non-twins my husband and I actually felt sad at the end of the weekend to not have a twin. We loved how much everyone enjoyed and celebrated being a twin, and we wanted our boys to share in that celebration. We’ve been back every year since then. 

Our boys are young and don’t really understand what it means to be a twin, so for our family, the highlight of the trip is always the Double Take Parade. Any twins who are registered for the festival are invited and encouraged to walk in the parade. Each year the festive has a theme, generally announced a few months in advance of the event. This year’s theme was fairy tales “Twice Upon a Time” so everyone was decked out in their finest fairy tale costumes. There are some that are quite elaborate with costumes and outfits, turning wagons and strollers into mini floats, but some twins just walk the route in matching street clothes. That’s the fun thing about Twins Days, even the adult twins dress alike for the weekend. 

Here are some of my favorite shots from the parade. My boys are in Prince Charming outfits I made for them, and they even had tiny glass slippers they tried to fit on nearly every pair of princesses they could find. It was pretty, well, charming. 

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The parade isn’t like most. There are floats for sure, but the first few waves are just pairs of twins, usually in matching themed costumes, walking down the street. And the street is lined with people, shoulder to shoulder, some twins, others just locals coming to watch the parade or grab some candy.

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After the parade there are plenty of photo opportunities. One set of twins generally asks another for a photo, then more and more join, two by two, until it is a huge group. These Cinderella and Prince Charming pairs were happy to include their tiny doppelgängers for a group photo. (and be sure my kids tried their glass slippers on those princesses too. 

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After the parade the festival opens, there are carnival rides, lots of food vendors, free Twin Pop popsicles, research study opportunities, a craft fair, a beer garden, and contests. My boys were in the theme costume contest. (the didn’t win.) but there are also contests for most-alike and least-alike twins, oldest twins and youngest twins, twins traveled from the furthest distance and more. 

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The youngest twins in Saturday’s contest were 3 weeks old, the oldest are 98 years young!

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 Then in the afternoon there is a break in the contests to take a group photo. We’ve been lucky the past two years to meet some very helpful older twins to wrangle mine for the photo since it takes about 30 minutes to get everyone into place for the group photo. My kids are sitting in the middle on the laps of their new friends. 

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A Charming Weekend indeed.

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If anyone else was in Twinsburg this weekend and wants to share photos or experiences, we’d love to hear them. And mark your calendars for the first weekend in August next year, it’s definitely something every twin family should see at least once!

 

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It Can Happen: Spontaneous Quintuplets

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Categories Fertility, Higher-Order Multiples, Multiples in the News, ParentingLeave a comment

Yes, they are “natural”! Although most people don’t realize that asking if a set of multiples is ‘natural,’ most of the time they are just expressing their amazement at our double, triple, or even higher blessings. And while the occurrence of spontaneous twins (particularly fraternal) is not that uncommon, spontaneous quintuplets happen in one in several million pregnancies.

This article about a 23 year old Czech mother awaiting her quintuplets is a must read! She has one son already, and was initially told she was expecting twins–then it was amended to quads–and then last month, a fifth baby was revealed.

Alexandra Kinova, the MoM to be, says she’s had no real complications during the pregnancy, and she looks beautiful and healthy. Her C-section is planned for this weekend, although the article doesn’t mention how far along she is. She hopes to breastfeed her new babies as she did her firstborn child.

These will be the first set of quintuplets in the Czech Republic.

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Who’s Older?

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Categories Birth Order, Multiples in the News7 Comments

“Who’s older?” Is it just me, or does anyone else want to roll their eyes when they hear this question? Or what about, “Oh, she must be older, she’s so much bigger…”

I am a believer in the idea that birth order factors into one’s personality. And I know that being a twin does, too. What I don’t necessarily believe is that birth order among multiples is very telling. To be honest with you, even though I know my daughter is technically older, I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head how many minutes apart they are. I think only two minutes. Could those extra two minutes before the doctor plucked my son from my womb really amount to much?

What about 87 days? Yes, you read that correctly. An Irish mother gave birth to twin girls 87 days apart, possibly setting the Guinness world record! Maria Jones-Elliott’s water broke before she reached 24 weeks, and her first daughter was born. Maria’s contractions stopped, and even after being induced the next day, the second baby wasn’t making any moves to come out. Her second twin was born at 36 weeks!

There was also a case of triplets where the first one was born eight days earlier than her brother and sister.

Can you imagine the suspense of being ‘on hold’ for eight days? Eighty-seven days?

How far apart are your multiples?

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A Myriad of Multiples

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Categories Classroom Placement, Education, Multiples in the News, Relationships, School-AgeTags , , 1 Comment

When I was in elementary school, there were three sets of identical girl twins in my grade. They were even in the newspaper.  I remember the picture that went with the article, with the six girls sitting stacked on a slide at our school’s playground.  (I never imagined that one day I’d have my own set of twins! )  As it turns out, my school’s meager three twin sets pales in comparison to one Tennessee school with fifteen(!) pairs of twins.

Double Take! Twins Explosion Hits School (video via Nbcnews.com)

With only 611 students at Castle Heights Upper Elementary School, thirty twins really seems like a lot.  And of course, where there are multiples, there are urban legends surrounding their conception—maybe it’s something in the water? Of the fifteen twin sets, three have been reported to be a result of fertility treatments, while the rest were ”luck.”  “We were in Vegas when it happened…” joked one mom.

Parenting twins raises all sorts of questions that parents of singletons don’t need to worry about.  One of those questions is whether or not to separate twins when they reach school age. Do you remember Sadia’s  experience with each of her girls in separate classrooms, and then separate grades?  Dr. Nancy Segal, who appears in the news clip, was here yesterday at HDYDI to address the benefits of separating, or not, twins in school and to give her recommendations for school policy on twin placement.

And when it comes to befriending other twin pairs, one of the Castle Heights dads jokes that the kids “don’t have a choice at our school!” What an interesting circumstance!  While juggling my own multiples can certainly “keep my hands full,” it does make me wonder what it would be like for them to have other twins to relate to. (And can you imagine what it would be like as a teacher at that school?!)

Do your multiples enjoy friendships with other multiples?

 

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