By day, I'm a domestic violence prosecutor. By night, I read romance to restore my faith in love, relationships, and humanity in general.
So you might've noticed my posts have been few and far between these last few weeks (and those few reviews I have posted have been shorter than usual). I've been on vacation: part of the time camping on an island in the middle of Vermont-New York's Lake Champlain, sans modern conveniences like power and plumbing; and part of the time in Chicago, where my wife and I took our boys to meet seven of their donor siblings and families.
We were pretty nervous about this trip, because while we made online connection with these families about two years ago, we'd never met any of them in person. Flying halfway across the country to stay in a rented house with 9 toddlers (my older son, who will be four in September, was the oldest of this group) and their mamas seemed a little crazy. What if we had nothing in common? What if they didn't like us? What if we didn't like them? What if my kid hit one of their kids, or if their kids hit one of mine and I went postal? What if my kids were the brattiest?
Yet our goal in reaching out to donor families (we call the donor siblings "diblings") has always been to make our sons feel a little less isolated. They are growing up in rural Vermont with lesbian moms and a dad who they will only know as a number and a couple of photographs (unless he agrees to allow them to contact him when they turn 18, which is a possibility). While not as unheard of as it would have been a few decades ago, our sons' situation is a far cry from the norm, and we wanted them to know from an early age that they're not alone. We thought if we did it when they were young, there would be a whole lot less drama and trauma about "daddy issues" when they got older.
So, we went to Chicago for a "Dibling Meet-up." There are 26 families (that we know of) who conceived via our donor, and 35 diblings, aged 2 months - 5 years, and we live all over the country. In Chicago last week, we met five of those families. Of the 9 kids there, only one was a girl (of the 35 diblings we know of, there are only 10 girls). My younger son was the only one with brown eyes. None of them will eat eggs. All of them are remarkably verbal. Most of them have the same finely arched eyebrows and the same funny, concave toenails (which are nearly impossible to keep trimmed!). As half-siblings, similarities like these are to be expected.
What I was not expecting was how much we Mamas had in common. The first night we were there, three of us went to the grocery store to pick up staples, and we were all buying the same things -- local and organic where we could, no processed foods. By unspoken agreement, the TV in our living room remained off until the very last night, when some of the moms put on a cartoon to occupy the kids while the mothers packed for morning flights. Over and over again, we found so much common ground in our lifestyles and parenting philosophies that we started to joke that our donor must have a "type," and if we ever meet his (hypothetical) wife, she'd likely fit right in with the rest of us girls. (Of the 26 families, we are all single mothers by choice or lesbian couples -- none of our kids have fathers.) In our online discussions, we have long jokingly referred to ourselves as "sister-wives" (because what else to you call a community of women who all have the same man's babies, and also because our donor happens to be a non-practicing Mormon), but during this trip, I began to really feel a sisterly bond with these ladies. (I know that sounds cheezy, but it's true.)
Anyway, it was an incredible experience. My kids were not the brattiest, nor the best behaved. (All kids have their moments, right?) I liked the moms a lot, and I think they liked us. My oldest son had a blast playing with all those other kids. (My youngest was a little overwhelmed and is at the height of his separation anxiety, so he was pretty clingy all week). We're already trying to plan a similar trip for next summer, and hopefully even more families will join in.
I'd decorate this post with a photo (I took TONS), but I don't post pictures of other people's kids online without permission. Still, I thought some of my followers might be interested in our trip, so I wanted to tell you all about it!