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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Meeting the Extended Family (The Belated Fourth of July Post)

 
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As those of you who have followed this blog for a while probably know by now, we have a pretty unconventional family. This goes way beyond being a two mom household; while we chose to use an anonymous donor when we decided to have kids, we've been very open to the idea of meeting and getting to know the other parents who have chosen to use the same anonymous donor. So, one of the first things we did, even before Hallie and Olivia's birth, was join the Donor Sibling Registry, where we discovered that others who had also used our girls' donor (henceforth '1876') had already established a presence. We quickly found out that there was also a Yahoo group dedicated to our families and we joined that, too. Over the past three years we've corresponded and shared pictures with the other parents who have chosen to identify themselves to the group and this is how we've gotten to be such close friends with our girls' big brother, Jake, and his lovely mom, Gina. Jake and Gina have gotten to meet another brother in Florida and a few of the other kids and their parents have met up in various places.

This past spring, several of us decided to try to get together on a bigger scale. It would have been really hard to get everyone together in one place since we're all spread out (from my recollection, there are kids in Oklahoma, Texas, Iowa, Florida, New Jersey, Missouri, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Puerto Rico. I am probably leaving some out, too). A couple of the Midwestern and Southwestern families were planning on heading East for vacation and so we settled on the Washington DC suburbs, which was convenient to a good number of us East Coasters and Mid-Atlantic types. And, to make it possible for as many as we could to attend, we chose one of the summer's long weekends. This made our 4th of July celebration extra special this year.

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On Friday the 3rd, Gina, her mom, and Jake headed down our way in a rental vehicle (since we needed to accommodate three car seats, four adults, tons of clothing and toys, and an ice chest full of goat milk products for Hallie) and we all piled in and had a great drive down to Maryland. The kids had a fabulous ride and Hallie adored sitting next to her big brother. The traffic on the way down wasn't terrible, either, which made up for the rental car SNAFU that Gina had experienced earlier in the day (when the rental car company down by them gave her a way-too-small vehicle. They ended up locating an adequately-sized alternative at the Philly airport but had to drive up here, figure out where to leave their car, and then pick us up).

Anyway, the kids would have been thrilled just at the prospect of racing up and down corridors, running in and out of one another's room, and jumping on the bed (a la Five Little Monkeys).

But we had a whole lot more fun planned for the weekend.

Eight 1876ers, one 1876er's sibling from another donor (yes, I know that's confusing...sorry, but our family really is pretty cutting edge), and Olivia, in spirit, spent the better part of Saturday gathered at Ben's house for a sibling meet-up of what seemed like epic proportions.  As one of the moms put it, "Thank god there aren't 1876 of 'em."

Gina, Jake's mom, had fabulous t-shirts made up for the event:


 
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And Ben's moms had rented a moon bounce for our very active kids to enjoy.  Hallie had a grand time climbing up it, sliding down it, and jumping in it:

 
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The professional photographer whom we hired got some gorgeous shots of our girl.  You can totally see the contrast between the photos that we took with our silly rinky dink camera and her professional apparat:

 
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Hallie had a great time on the tire swing, too.  

 
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Vestibular motion appeals to many of our 1876ers.  Here's a picture of Jonah, the oldest of the bunch (at least insofar as we are aware) enjoying some swinging:


 
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And here's one of Jake (with Gina):


 
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And one of Jessica:

 
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While she was a bit too young for the tire swing, Lea enjoyed some swinging of her own, courtesy of Mommy:



 
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Lea got a lot of holding and loving time from everyone that day:

 
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Alyssa, in particular, thought that it was way cool that she--the oldest girl there--got to hold the littlest girl. Here she's getting some help from her sister, Jess.

 
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While all the 1876ers look a lot like their birth moms, they also look a lot like one another. They seem to fit into two types--the blonde-haired 1876ers (Ben, Asher, Jess, and Ellie) and the brown-haired ones (Jonah, Jake, and Hallie). I'm not sure which group Lea belongs to, yet, since she kind of doesn't really have a lot of hair. But even though they may have different hair color, there's definitely a family resemblance between these kids:

 
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Anyway, a great time was had by all and we were thrilled to have been able to participate. Hallie's big smooch with Ben at breakfast the next day says it all: we are grateful that Rebecca and Claire opened their home to us and that we had a chance to meet a good portion of the rest of our far-flung family. We hope to do this again some time soon!

 
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***

More posts to come about preschool and our weekend trip to New York. But for those of you who tune in to see what our tally is of days without spew, we're now up to 136. That's more than double where we were at this time last year!

6 comments:

Kirsten Wood said...

That sounds like a great weekend indeed! I love those T-shirts. And those pictures of Hallie really are gorgeous. (And I really see Sharon in her, as well as 1876). I'm so happy that the weekend worked out well for all of you.

Anne, Eliza Grace's mom said...

Love the photos ... love the t-shirts!

Sarah said...

You guys are so freakin' awesome, I just had to say that. The shirts? To die for... And WHEN DID HALLIE GET TO BE SO BIG? She looks soooo grown up!

Judith and Jason said...

I love it! Thanks for sharing this!

Natalie and Abigail said...

Oh my gosh - that is so fantastic! What an amazing weekend. I also love the shirts - especially the little dragonfly for Olivia. I'm glad they didn't leave her out.

The picture at the top, of all the kids, is amazing.

I had no idea that donor recipients could register to meet their siblings. I think it's incredible. I've said it before, but I think it's great you have sought out and made connections with the girls' brothers and sisters. What a wonderful gift to them.

PS - thanks for answering the question I emailed you. Sometimes laws are just crazy...

:-)Johelen

BusyLizzyMom said...

What an amazing family. Hallie and Lea are so lucky to have such an cool family.
The pics are great.