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by Patricia Irwin Johnston, MS


A Kids-eye View...

It's hard enough to be one of a set of twins or triplets genetically related and born together. Though most gestational multiples are very much wanted and ultimately they and their families do very well, from the beginning of their lives their families are under unusual stress and scrutiny. Gestational multiples compete for their parents' arms, time and attention, as well as for all other family resources. Their early months are often marked by overworked and overtired parents or-perhaps even worse for children- by inconsistent, and therefore unpredictable, care from a variety of well-meaning "helpers." Multiples are at risk for an early awareness that they are not the center of the universe during a time in their emotional lives when they should be. Families of gestational multiples fight for privacy amidst a public fascinated by multiples. But at least genetic twins are matching age-mates and so are likely to have the same developmental needs, not to mention often having similar natural paces, rhythms, and personalities. They share one set of parents whose attention is focused upon them.

Pseudo-twins, on the other hand, are likely to be strikingly different from one another both temperamentally and physically. The fact that they are almost never born in the same month-let alone on the same day- means that throughout their first two years of crucial and dramatic growth and change they will be at vastly different developmental stages every single day of their lives. At no other period of human development beyond the vulnerable and dependent first year of life are cognitive, emotional, physical, and motor changes as rapid as they are in the first twelve months after birth, when changes are so dramatic as to be observable and measurable on a daily basis. The rapidity of these changes is one of the things that makes this first year so stressful on parents, as well, as they struggle to stay alert to new needs and new dangers produced by new skills and awarenesses. The differences between children who are two and five months apart in age or who are nine and eleven months apart in age are obvious, whereas the same two children will seem much more similar by the ages of 24 and 27 months. The result is that, unlike genetic twins, pseudo twins will be on different eating, sleeping, waking, and playing schedules, making it impossible for their often sleep-deprived parents to take advantage of synchronized schedules most common with genetic multiples to relax and refresh themselves.

7 "Instant Family? A Case against Artificial Twinning" appeared in articles in Adoptive Families magazine, Pact Press, and Serono Symposia USA's newsletter Insights into Infertility before becoming part of Launching a Baby's Adoption and then this book.


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