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Incredible Journey of Separated Triplets: Shared Tragedy & Reunion
Episode 585th September 2023 • Family Twist • Corey and Kendall Stulce
00:00:00 00:48:13

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Donor Conceived Triplets Separated at Birth

"If Rikki is going to lose her Dad, at least she should gain her sisters."

This trio, Kenny, Rikki, and Jules, weren't just randomly thrown together to host a podcast. Nope. They share a unique bond that sounds straight out of a movie. Spoiler alert: they're triplets! And not just your regular sort of triplets. They were separated at birth. Crazy, right?

Here are some discussion highlights from the episode:

  • The chances of having multiples through insemination are low, but it happened in this case.
  • Kenny reveals how their mother decided who to keep based on the babies' movements in the womb - a unique part of their story.  And shares how their birth mother selected the adoptive parents, ultimately choosing a couple who had been trying to adopt for seven years.  
  • The sisters met and began to understand their biological bond while navigating new relationships. They explore the complex nature versus nurture debate through their personal experiences.  
  • They conclude by reminding listeners that family isn't always about blood, but about support and care.

Guest bios from Luke Who is Your Father website:

Jules is Baby A- 31 years old, the hellraiser, idea-haver, “act first, ask questions later” problem child of the trio. She’s quick to crack a joke or challenge you to a competition. She is seasoned in sales and has found a home in the Med-Tech industry. She lives with her equally mischievous partner and their four cats in Southeast Austin. You can find her doom-scrolling Tik-Tok, creating mixed-media art projects, or scouring the city for the best seafood platter- all of which is a lot more mild-mannered than what she used to get up to.

Kenny is Baby B—31 years old, the mediator, peacemaker, Oreo center of the trio. She’s a little more reserved, but blunt and sarcastic with a bit of a dry sense of humor. She is the Senior Graphic Designer for the Cyber Intelligence Team of a world renowned cyber security company where she has worked for about a year and a half. Kenny lives with her boyfriend and partner-in-crime along with two rescue pups in their home in South Austin. You can find Kenny frequenting the local dives, poorly playing pool, catching up on the massive quantities of content on streaming services, or searching out any body of water within 100 miles.

Rikki is Baby C—31 years old and a true Cancer— bold and brazen on the outside, soft and emo on the inside. She is Head of Sales at Scribe Media (our pod producer) and has been with the company for four years. Rikki shares her home in Austin with two dogs, a cat, and her boyfriend, Collin. Collin is the caretaker of the home, and Rikki is the curator. She is always on the lookout for anything that can make her house look more like a dreamy 70s bungalow. In her free time, Rikki enjoys reading (mostly horror), watching movies (mostly horror), rowing on Town Lake, and eating at all of Austin’s best new restaurants.

Guest links:

Luke Who is Your Father website

Instagram

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Transcripts

00:00

Thanks for joining us again on Family Twist. We're all a little bit giddy today, so I think this is gonna be a good one. We've got Kenny, Ricky, and Jules with us, and they host a podcast called Luke Who Is Your Father, and you'll soon find out why they named their podcast that. Welcome to the show. Thank you, we're so excited to be here. So excited.

00:25

It almost feels like deja vu for some reason. But I can't put my finger on wine. You guys have an amazing story, which we know quite a bit about, but our audience doesn't. So who would like to begin? And where do you want to start? I think we usually start with Miss Ricky, just because she has a little bit more of the film origin story. Yeah, I'm the most holistic of the three of us. The most holistic picture, if you will. So we are triplets separated at birth.

00:53

I stayed with our birth mother and Julianna Kendall were adopted as twins. So that's why we say I have the more holistic picture. So our mom, our birth mom found out at seven months pregnant. She was pregnant with triplets. She was deaf. My dad was 58 years old at the time and not in great health.

01:11

and they did not have an ideal financial situation. Like they definitely figured out how to swing it for one baby because she wanted one, but they had not figured out how to swing it for three. So they found out that she was pregnant with triplets at seven months when she went in for like a routine checkup. She hadn't had very consistent prenatal care up to that point because she had been inseminated by one doctor and then having prenatal care with another.

01:37

And this was so unprecedented that it did change policy for both doctors' offices. But yeah, when she went and got measured, they said, oh, we need to have an ultrasound. You are measuring at 32 and you're 28 weeks and you're supposed to be measuring at 28 weeks. And that's when they dropped those big old bombs on her. It's pretty unusual when somebody gets inseminated for there to be multiple babies, right?

02:03

I think today it is almost unheard of. She was 35, so she was having to take fertility drugs. And I think that you have to regardless any time that you're going to do IUI or IBF or freeze embryos or anything like that. But she was given a fertility drug that gave her a 5% chance of having twins. So they weren't especially concerned about it.

02:25

I need to kind of read up on the policy today because people have been very eager to tell me on TikTok that multiples do not occur frequently with insemination. And I don't know if parents are still permitted to split up multiples anymore. But I'll look into it. And this is off topic, but multiples are more common with IVF, right? Or I feel like they're more anyways, yeah, moving on. Yeah, I think super uncommon with insemination though. So

02:54

I thought it was pretty interesting and Rigi, you can go into this, how your mother decided to split up the babies and her due diligence in finding the right family to adopt. Yeah. So we'll let Kendall tell this story because it's her favorite, but she was very adamant about not splitting up identicals. But again, her testing just across the board was pretty subpar because they did tell her that there were no identicals.

03:22

So she was left to get creative to make the choice. And Kendall, do you wanna tell us how she did it? Yeah, we actually didn't know this. I think I asked Kathleen when I was, I think like 17, she was visiting us in Colorado. And I asked her like, I don't care either way. Like I have never felt any certain way about this, but like, how did you choose? Cause that's like an impossible choice. And she actually said that- Me and you. Yes. Ricky and I were-

03:51

breach and Julianne was head down. And because we're triplets and we were kind of like sardine packed in there, they said that that would not change for the whole pregnancy. We were going to stay in those positions. The whole rest of the pregnancy. The rest of the next month, six weeks. And then I wiggled around to be head down with Julianne. And so she kind of took that as a sign that like we were meant to be together and she is going to keep Ricky.

04:22

And then surprise. That is so crazy actually. I can't believe that. I feel like every time we say it, it gets a little crazier to picture that happening because the lady was zooming out to here. And then as far as picking the family, she had a few families that she had interviewed.

04:38

And it was a very common theme when she would ask them why they were doing this. And if they were okay having children that were not biologically theirs, obviously the mothers were gung-ho. A lot of the times it was because the mother could not, they just couldn't conceive naturally. But the fathers, or assumed to be fathers, I guess, several times said, you know, I would prefer to have a baby of my own and I'm doing this for my wife. And then when she interviewed my parents, oh no, already.

05:06

We always get a little bit teary going over this because my father said, I don't care how I have babies. I just want to be a dad. And so that's how she picked my parents, Tina and Ken, to be the adoptive parents. Very cool. Yeah. And that had actually been a long road for them as well. Obviously, my mom was finding out very, very late. They had been going through the adoption process for seven months. Seven years.

05:30

Tina had suffered a very serious, violent sexual assault when she was, I think, 16. And so her and Ken started to try to have babies right away when they got married. And the doctor told her that she had a better chance of being struck by lightning twice than being able to conceive. The assault had sent her into early menopause. She was already going through menopause at that age. So they had...

05:54

two different adoption candidates over the course of the seven years. One would not reveal the father, the biological father. So they said we're at way too big of a risk of him servicing later. So we don't want to take that risk. And then they were on deck with another girl who think she made it to like seven months or they were expecting the babies in two months. And then she came forward and said that she'd had an abortion and the adoption agency requested paperwork as proof of that.

06:22

she could not provide it and it ended up that she had never been pregnant. So, and I think they were working with the woman that my mom was working with, Sybil, and their trust was really broken with that adoption agency for good reason. And then Sybil, I think was probably super excited. She had the surest thing. She was like, there's a couple of 40 minutes down the road. How would you feel about twins in two months? And they, they both said yes.

06:49

Yeah. Without even talking to each other. Separately, without consulting each other. That's how excited they were. Well, yeah, I mean, what a traumatic experiences that they had to go through to becoming parents. So, wow. So who was the first to discover that indeed there were identical twins there and they weren't being raised together? Oh, man, that has been a long road. So I was kept with my birth parents, Julian and Kendall were adopted separately as twins.

07:17

They grew up. I commented that on your TikTok once, Ricky is so cute. You've said birth parents. She was kept with her birth mom. True. Yeah. Right. Yes. Yeah. Which we'll get to. Kept with my birth mom and my dad. And I don't even remember finding out that we were triplets. It had been something my parents always told me. Tina and Ken had always sent over Christmas cards, letters, pictures of the girls growing up.

07:45

It was technically a closed adoption because we were not in contact with Julianne Kendall. And I think as my mom started to get more and more photos.

07:54

she, I think, sort of started to tell me, well, it looks like you guys are probably identical, which is like her worst nightmare, honestly. So all through growing up and when we finally were able to meet each other, Julian and I have had periods of looking very, very similar and very, very different because apparently, epigenetics is actually a thing and identical DNA does manifest itself differently when you're growing up in totally different environments. And so we just did a...

08:21

twin monozygosity test for the last episode of Luke Who Is Your Father, because I have always been pretty insistent they were identical. And they have always been pretty opposed to the idea, Kendall for obvious reasons and tools, because she stands at about four inches taller than me. And we got the results in our email, deleted them out of our email immediately. Kendall had someone print off the results at work. It's like we were revealing the gender of our babies.

08:51

And then we, yes, opened the results on air and it said that me and Julian were in fact identical. So then we had to break that news to my mom, who is not happy, but is unsurprised. So yeah. Oh, goodness. So you guys didn't always necessarily know each other. And I feel like there might've been a little hesitancy with Kenny and Jules' parents about how close do we want to get because we don't want to take the chance of Kathleen saying, you know what? I changed my mind.

09:20

give me the girls back. Yeah, right. So adoption started off fairly open and I'm not sure. I think they might have agreed to that at first. And so when we were like six months old, families got together and then there was a lot of stuff in the news at that time.

09:37

And I don't know what the law is today, but apparently a birth mother for up to two years can, I hate this word, but reclaim her children. And there was a big news story about her birth mother, like, snatching her baby back from the adoptive parents. And I think once they started getting that kind of in their head and started hearing more about that and then seeing us all together, yeah, I think they did decide to close the adoption just because. And you, I mean, you can imagine they've been through seven years of this already and two fallen through adoptions already.

10:07

very territorial in the best way possible. She was being a mama bear. And that's why Kendall and I always knew that we were adopted. But I don't know, we were very happy. We didn't have a huge yearning desire to meet our birth parents. And then yeah, they did keep, we did not know that we had another sister out there until we were eight or nine. Okay, wow. So how did that news get out? Well, so we grew up on very different sides of the tracks. Again, my mom was

10:36

completely deaf. My dad was an old dad. And I didn't grow up with many children around. So I was always kind of just like a little adult sidekick, a lot of adult, not a lot of exposure, friends, etc. Just a lonelier childhood. We lived on a farm in the middle of nowhere. So when my dad started to get really sick, first with prostate cancer, I started to get more and more curious about Julianne Kendall. And I remember just like

11:04

pouring over the photos that Tina would send. And I finally asked my mom if I could write to Tina and Ken, and she said, yes, I should just pay to see her navigating this situation. But so I wrote to Tina and Ken, asked if Julien and Kendall knew about me and if we could meet. And they had written back and said, no.

11:28

And so then I sent her a letter that said no. I'm kidding. Huge red letters. No. No, they wrote a letter that said that they had chosen not to divulge that up to that point and it's definitely not something that they would be comfortable with, but they would be more than happy to keep us in the loop as far as what was going on with the girls. And then I hatched a master plan. For each one.

11:52

and had my mom take me to an outlet mall for like back to school shopping that I knew was closer to where Julianna and Kendall lived. Just thinking that they would just be in the exact same place at the exact same time because I thought I could just manifest it out of thin air. And malls. And I thought that you could meet anyone in a mall that was from that place. I wrote Josh Hartnett a 21 page fan letter when I was younger and then made my mom take me to the Mall of America because he was...

12:21

from Minneapolis. So I thought he would just be there. So we are in this outlet, mom, and I heard someone say, Hi, Julianne. And I was like, Oh my God, it's worked. They're in here. And I turn around and it was a girl my age talking to me thinking that I was Julianne. So my mom had to call her mom over and explain that.

12:48

They couldn't say anything ever that we were triplets separated at birth, that Julia and Kendall did not know about me, that Tina and Ken would probably not be happy about the situation. And that girl never said anything. And neither did her mom. We still don't know who that was. They were probably terrified. Again, the more and more we tell, that's what I'm thinking. The more and more we tell this, I'm like, maybe she thought that you were me and you were just spinning this, that everyone was just insane. Just spinning a tall tale for some reason.

13:16

I mean, bizarre. So my mom wrote Tina and Ken a letter and told them that that had happened. And I think that kind of lit a fire underneath them to reveal that sooner rather than later because they were in danger of the girls finding out from someone who was not. Right. It's actually kind of surprising that it didn't come out. Yeah. I'm shocked. I could not be more shocked that both that girl and her mom never said anything to this day. This was when you were still eight. Okay.

13:44

So after you wrote the letter, after you got no letter, and then my next plan is to go to the mall. I was just bulldozing a path forward for myself. Precocious little eight-year-old. So how did your parents tell you? It was on New Year's, and they kind of took us. We have this cowboy chair that my dad would always read to us on. They took us over to the cowboy chair. And they were like, we have a gift to give you that cannot be unwrapped. And they showed us.

14:10

a picture of Ricky and they told us, you have another sister, she lives 40 minutes away and how do you guys feel about this? And it was crazy because the photo looked exactly like Julian, it was so bizarre just seeing like, but like different clothes and different haircut and that kind of stuff. So it was just like clearly. Way cuter. Oh. Yes. Way cuter and more fashionable than us. We were still in the.

14:40

The mom is dressing us. Oh. Matching face. But yeah. And then I guess they took us separately and my dad talked to Julian and my mom talked to me and she was like, how do you feel? And I was like, well, nerd, nerd. I was like, I'm unique. And then Julian. I just said it felt like I was looking in a mirror. Yeah.

15:05

Cause it was, it was very jarring to see someone that looked literally exactly like me, but that I knew was not me. Was part of that story. Did you realize right then that your biological mother was the person that Ricky was with? Did they explain that as part of the? I'm sure. Yeah. Oh, as opposed to also being adopted. Yeah.

15:28

I'm sure they told us at that point, they probably told us the whole story that she was deaf and kind of everything that led up to that. Because up until then, it wasn't ever like, they very much made it clear that if we ever did want to like find our biological mother, that they would help us to do that. I think they wanted to make us feel like we had that option, even though like they weren't in contact with her. They already knew her. They had her address. Yeah.

15:57

Yeah, I think that was important because it gave you both as children sort of control over that situation, you know Where you felt right probably comfortable because of that. I think that was a really smart move And how quickly did you say that you wanted to meet ricky? Took a while I think kennel and I as we've kind of dug this stuff up We've under some things about ourselves and how we were feeling at that time and kennel and I grew up as twins

16:22

We always had a little sidekick. Ricky is really, really good at making and keeping really good friends to this day. And we think that's because she did grow up as an only child and didn't have a lot of people around. Whereas Kendall and I always had each other. And I think we were very much in our little.

16:38

kind of bubble. So we did not have the same longing that Ricky did to all be together. So it took us a few years and there was this kind of series of events that led to that. Ricky's dad kept getting sicker and sicker. And I think that's when Kathleen was kind of losing hope just in general and hope that we would ever meet her. And then when he had a few days left, she had written and said that he was really, really sick and this will be kind of our last try at this. And that's when my dad wrote Kathleen back. Oh, Lordy. And

17:07

He had also been diagnosed with cancer at that time, but it was not, to our knowledge, very severe. So he said, the girls might not be ready for this, but sometimes we have to do things that we're not ready for, and if Ricky is about to lose her dad, we feel like she should at least gain her sisters. And that they would start kind of putting things in motion to have us meet. And then we ended up, I ended up writing Ricky a letter for our birthday or something, and I said...

17:33

we're ready to meet you. Here's my dad's cell phone. Give him a call. Please call to make arrangements. Yes, please call to make arrangements. And also what was happening at that time was, because my dad had passed away and we had been pen pals up to that moment. So Tina and Ken told the girls about me and then we had become pen pals. And as my dad passed away, like I said, we lived on a big farm and my mom was just having to upkeep this entire thing by herself. And it was like not in enough.

18:02

It was not in a nice place. Just a dreary, low-income situation. My dad was a protected veteran. She knew that we were about to actually have any sort of money to do anything with. She had asked if it would be okay if we moved to Missouri to be closer to her parents. She didn't have to take care of this farm on her own anymore. That is when we arranged to meet because we were going to be moving out of state.

18:32

It's kind of bittersweet really, I mean, meeting for the first time and then, bye Ricky. Yeah. That is kind of sad. Yeah. It was pretty, from the letters that I wrote at the time, it seemed pretty torturous. Not to put down letter writing because I think it's become like a lost art, but was it not a phone on the farm when there was a lot of letter writing with the papers back and forth? I think that they just were not comfortable with that yet. Yeah.

19:02

It's yeah. Yeah. I think the delayed back and forth and not ever having to be on edge that someone would be placing an unexpected phone call. Yeah. Cause gave them more prep time, gave them more control. Yeah. You could think about what you wanted to say in response, right? Yeah. Right. Absolutely.

19:27

Which happened. Which happened a couple of times. We were going back through our letters and there are definitely parts that are erased. Redacted. Yes. Which is kind of amazing actually. It's hilarious. What was that first meeting like? Technically second, because you met, well, the first time you met when y'all came out with Kathleen and then... Or sentient death. Kendall? It was...

19:53

really anti-climactic. There was this big buildup we decided to meet at a mall. And we were going to go see a movie and then go out to dinner afterwards. And I do remember when we first saw each other and the running and big group hug, and then it was just like we fell into place like we had been friends forever. And the parents really did a good job of like hanging back because it was also the first time we'd met our birth mom.

20:22

but they in no way wanted it to be about that. They wanted it to be about us meeting our sister. So they kind of just like hung back and just let us do our own thing, gave us some money to go to Claire's and buy some lip gloss. Cause it's all very aging us horribly. Some Gen Zers have to be listening to this being like, what is a mom? Why were you there all the time? Yeah.

20:48

And then we went and saw the cinematic masterpiece that is Daredevil with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner. And then we went to Old Chicago's, got pizza. Yeah, it was very super comfortable. Like Kendall said, very anticlimactic, but it was a huge deal for the parents, both sides. Kathleen, and there's a lot of controversy when we talk about this on our podcast and on social media and people are...

21:11

The number one comment is, how could you give up two babies and keep one? And it's a little bit judgmental. People have kind of short-mindedness when it comes to that. But Kathleen was really struggling with that. And we didn't know how much until we read these letters back. She was really, really torn up about that decision that she had had to make and almost made it seem like if she could go back, she would not do it because it was so hard.

21:34

And then my parents had been so nervous about us having that kind of biological pull towards Kathleen or to Ricky and thinking that we would just up and leave if we had met them. But what that meeting resulted in is Kathleen coming to peace with her decision, because she saw that we were loved and that we were in a good family and that we were okay and we were happy. And then my parents, we went home with them and we were so excited to have met Ricky, but very much still happy in our family situation. So it brought a lot of peace to the parents.

22:04

What part of Missouri did you move to, Ricky? Oh, yeah, we have the Arkansas connection. When I'm from Missouri. Corey's from Missouri, I'm from Arkansas. So, yeah. Yeah. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. I don't admit this very often. I don't really. I get a little vague about both where I lived in Colorado and Missouri. Well, we moved to Neosho, Missouri, in the Diamond, Missouri school district, unfortunately.

22:31

So yes, I love Arkansas, have spent a lot of time in Fayetteville and Bentonville and I used to want to get married at the Glass Chapel. Oh yeah, that's a thing. Yeah. But yes, moved to, what is that, Southeast Missouri, I guess. Did not have a good time.

22:51

But so that is when the girls parents actually really took over or stepped in, not took over as I was living with my mom as a single mom. And we finally had like a nice big house to run around. And it was definitely a better situation geographically and financially at that time. But that's when I started to go visit Julianne and Kendall every summer. And their parents really opened their doors to me. I had a lot of coming of age experiences. Their dad taught me.

23:20

how to drive. My mom has probably heard that and been like, I taught you how to drive. When you were sick. But my mom was very anxious about teaching me how to drive. So I think that we avoided it as much as possible. Well, she also had like a ginormous truck that was a stick shift. Like it wasn't an easy car to drive. I even tried to drive it.

23:45

after learning how to drive stick shift and I still could not do it. Like it was not an easy drive car. Yeah. So I was more excited when Ken stepped in and taught me how to drive and then I almost got it. Yes, they really took over or contributed in a parental role. That's awesome. I'm sure you've got some great memories about those summers. Yeah. Yes. So fun.

24:09

We really kind of didn't talk about how it was for Kenny and Jules to, or really, maybe I should say Kathleen, what was it like for her to finally, we talked about the closure that she got, but was it awkward at that moment when you first met her? I don't remember even talking to her. We were so focused on meeting Ricky. I don't think he was awkward.

24:32

Kathleen is kind of an awkward person. She's always been very careful to not step on any toes. So she's never wanted to kind of like reach out to us in a way that would feel like she's like trying to like be our mom or something. But yeah, but I don't think the first meeting was really about getting to know her. I feel like we maybe got to know her a little better when we went and visited in Missouri.

24:58

And then we've found out through the podcast and everything that like, because I've always had a great relationship with Kathleen. We're very similar people. I am also very awkward, but we share like sweet tubes. We would always want to be like in and around water and like that kind of stuff really appreciate art and that kind of thing. And she was always like kind of standoffish with Julian. And we found out it's because she's felt so much guilt for so many years about

25:27

separating the identical twins. Yeah, interviewing Kathleen for our podcast was the longest that I've ever sat down and spoken with her. And she said it's because she just had always figured that Julian was angry with her. Because also the girls had a little bit different relationship with their parents as they grew up and were in high school. So with your relationship being a little bit more tenuous with your dad, I think that that also really played into.

25:56

or just feeling really guilty and thinking and just projecting it onto Jules. Easy to have happen, I think. I get it. Oh, absolutely. It's no blame there. It's just, yeah. You can't help it. It's just the dynamics that are happening with the communication. Right. So getting to know each other over the years, even though there were short visits in the summer, I'm sure it was great. But when did you decide that, hey, we all want to be...

26:26

like super, super close together geographically. Oh my gosh, it took a while. We had always kind of talked about it a little bit. Ricky moved to Austin a decade ago for grad school. And I kind of bopped around a little bit. I moved to Texas and moved to California. And then when I was in California, Kendall and I lost our dad. Well, and Ricky lost him too when two weeks before our high school graduation, which was really, really hard.

26:53

heart for all of us. And after that, I acted out in a way that these, you know, I just went through a really tough time with substance abuse and just kind of self-sabotaging myself at any given opportunity. And so when I was in California, I was going through it and I had been speaking with Ricky on the phone and she said, come down here, moved to Austin. I had bought a house in California, moved to Austin and we'll be together. We'll start kind of working on that.

27:22

And I said, okay, and I pulled the trigger and I think I moved like a week, a month after that conversation. And Kendall had come to California to drive me down to Austin. And she met a boy in Austin and they were together for a little bit and she decided to move to Austin too.

27:43

be with him, which did not. It was nine months. It was almost a year. What did I say? A little bit. It's a little bit. Oh, they were together for about a year. Two weeks later, I decided to move to Austin. She took about a year and she decided to move to Austin to move in with him, which ended up falling through. And I know we're not supposed to cuss on your broadcast, but she said, I'm still going to come. And so that's how we ended up all being in Austin. And so we've all been here together for a couple years now. That's so cool.

28:11

Yeah, because I had also bopped around. I moved from Colorado to California to live with Julian for like 10 months. And then I moved to Seattle because I was in California. I was never supposed to be there for like longer than like three months or so. It was just kind of a transition spot. And I was either going to move to Austin or Seattle. And my aunt and uncle from Seattle were just like.

28:37

you can come live with us. I was like, you live on a lake? Hell yeah, I love Seattle. Let's do it. And then, yeah, I ended up deciding to move to Austin. Homeboy broke up with me a month before I moved. After they had signed a lease. After we signed a lease. Wow, what a douche. Yeah, that was really fun. But wouldn't change it for the world. Corey and I have been out here for five years now. And it's just, it is amazing to get to live. I live.

29:06

near two of my half siblings. I have six, but two is the most I could have in one spot, right? Yeah, and my dad is here, so that's nice too. And then of course, my siblings' children. So it's a whole big group. So it's a lot of fun. So there's another guy in this story. We have not talked about the man who donated for you guys to be born. The facility that he used, did they have any information? Were you able to get any information from them or was it completely closed? Yeah. So how this worked? Yeah, we got to take this back now.

29:35

was I did not know that we were conceived via sperm donor until I was 13. My dad had always really been very adamant with my mom that she'd not tell me that because he did not want me to see him as any less of a father. So I think when he passed away and as I turned 13...

29:54

My mom saw it as sort of a coming of age rite of passage for me, maybe. We were driving in the truck and she handed me an article on artificial insemination and said, read it and tell me what you think. And I read it and was like, okay, cool. I don't know. What do you mean? What do I think? Cool. Cool procedure. And she said, well, that is what we did. So then I said, are you telling me that Lee isn't my biological father? And she said, yes.

30:22

and I stormed off into my room for the remainder of the evening, came back the next morning and kind of said that it was fine, that I would be moving on through the rest of my life knowing that my dad was my dad because he's the person that raised me. Looking back, I think I was more bothered by it than I wanted to admit at that time. That is when I started embodying an angsty teenager. The funniest part about this is Jules and Kendall do not

30:50

They know that they were never told that Lee was, this is so funny, it's the first time I'm on a podcast that I can see this tattoo of my parents on their wedding days. They were never told that Lee was their biological father because then that would be a whole nother layer to peel back because he was obviously not going to be with us for very long. And we don't remember ever having a conversation about this when I found out.

31:17

They don't remember their parents ever telling them like, hey, Ricky doesn't know this detail, don't tell her. So we don't know what happened there. We need to ask Tina. I know we keep forgetting. Let's call her during our break. Okay, we will. So I didn't show a lot of interest in it until we got older. And I think when I was 18 and moving out, my mom gave me all of the sperm donor paperwork. He had donated anonymously, but you know, there's a huge packet of all the biological data.

31:45

on him and each family member and he had to fill out like a whole sweet questionnaire. His answers were so sweet and hilarious. Then as I was living in Austin and all of us just kept being crazy, having bad relationships with men, terrible things happening to us, I was like, I'm just going to do a DNA test. I'm very curious about where we came from, why we are the way that we are. I need to just find something. So did a DNA test through Ancestry DNA.

32:13

sponsor. Yes. True. And then got the results back. We did find out then that we had a half sister that was on AncestryDNA, reached out to her. She knew that she had been conceived via artificial insemination. It was really not that big of a deal for it. We were old enough at that point where it wasn't like...

32:33

Let's get to know each other. We just kind of exchange Instagrams and still follow each other today. And it's fun to see the similarities there. But it took about two years for someone to reach out on Ancestry DNA, a new match, and say, we have a really high DNA match percentage and I cannot figure out why I'm really all about this life. You know how some people are, very into genealogy. These are my parents. These are my grandparents. What is your take, basically?

33:03

And I thought that this was another sibling, another half sibling. And I was like, well, they're an adult reaching out. So I guess I should just be as straightforward as possible. And I said, well, the connection that we share on this site is my half sister, we were conceived via the same sperm donor. I saw that this person was an identical twin. So I said, I'm a triplet. So it's possible that multiples run in the sperm donor's family. And then I didn't hear back from them. And I was like, oh no.

33:31

But then a year after that, so this past December, I was leafing through those papers at the request of my fiance. And that is when I saw that our biological father's sister was an identical twin. And I was like...

33:50

Hold on a second. So I got back onto AncestryDNA and said to this woman, Jenny, I said, I'm sorry, I'm reaching back out after a year, but I'm just going through our sperm donor's paperwork and I see that his aunt is an identical twin or his mom is an identical twin also, obviously. Do you have a nephew that was born in this year, went to this college, studied this in school? And she just replied almost immediately and said, yes. Edmund signed off your great aunt, Jenny.

34:18

And I was like, wait, come back. So I sent her like a slew of messages that day, just being like, wait, do you have any more information? And she didn't answer. And I thought, well, I do think that she had put this together and was just waiting for me to unravel the mystery. I think she really liked that element of it actually. And I thought that she wasn't responding because she didn't want to respond. It turns out she's like 87.

34:44

and was on the computer. So I'm sure she just got off of the computer. She left the library. For Franky to be saying. Yeah. Oh. So then the next day, that's when we really laid everything out and said, we're going to figure this out today. So we found an obituary for like my great grandma or something and just traced down the whole line to identify like what we thought would be the appropriate line of children.

35:14

and then looked up every single one of them, everything we could find about them. Their names were all very nondescript. Besides one who was Roman Stonebridge, names have been changed for annuity sake, and found Roman online and he is an artist. So he had a very public online profile, contact information to contact him obviously, in case you want him to do some art for you. I wish I could give you a real plug.

35:44

So there was a phone number listed and I was like, I'm going to sleep on this, but I think I'm going to call that phone number tomorrow. Woke up, still wanted to do it, called. He answered on the second ring, which I didn't expect so that I had to be like, oh, I didn't plan what I was going to say here. And I said, is this Roman? He said yes. And I said, do you have a second? And he was like...

36:07

depends on what you need. And I said, well, I'm sure you've heard a lot of crazy stories on the news about ancestry DNA and 23andMe. And he said, yeah. And I said, well, I think I'm your niece. And then I was like, oh, and I was conceived via sperm donation, not like an illicit secret family hidden niece. So then kind of revealed that I'd been speaking with Jenny. And then I said, was your brother?

36:35

this person who was born at this time and went to this college and studied this. And he said, yeah. And we talked for a while. He was so cool. And he said, well, I need, I'm going to call you back. I have to call my brother because he didn't tell anyone that he did this. And while everything you're saying is correct, I should probably verify that this is even something that he did. And he called me back in five minutes and said, wow. Yeah. And so I had said, like, don't even worry about it.

37:04

Because he said, I don't think he's going to be able to meet you. And I said, no, that's not, that's totally fine. If you could send over some photos from when he donated, like around that time and, and any other like stories or information. And he said, oh no, he, he created an email address and he wants you to email him. So I reached out when all of this DNA testing came out.

37:26

This is what I've always thought about. Like if I had donated anything or committed a crime, when DNA testing came out, that's like the first place that my brain would have gone. And I don't think that even occurred to him. So this was the first time after, what do we say, 30 years? 35. 35 years because his swimmers were on ice for a while that he had ever heard about any of this. And I'm sure Ricky will get more into that, but yeah, first time you heard. So you were.

37:53

Yeah, undoubtedly the first child of his to ever reach out. Wow. Oh, yeah. Yeah, I reached out. I had to write like a weird introduction email. Introducing. I said, Hi, Keith. Sorry for the surprise. I wanted to make it really clear to him. And he said for people listening to your podcast thinking about maybe doing this, he said it was really important to him that I made very clear my intentions.

38:21

right out of the gate. I said, I am not looking for any financial compensation or support. Here's my Instagram so that you can see that I live a nice happy life. My dad passed away when I was younger and I found out about you when I was 13 and I've always been curious. And by the way, I'm a triplet. And we exchanged a few emails back and forth where he expressed his surprise and then told me a little bit about...

38:45

him and his family, the way he chooses to live his life. And then when he went through my Instagram, I think that made him pretty emotional. That was when he was able to see the resemblance and be like, okay, this isn't a crazy lady scammer. And also just that we really chose to document our lives in a very similar way and was just really touched by a lot of the short videos that I put together and post. So that's when he really let it rip and started.

39:11

writing really, really kind letters and asked for a FaceTime. We FaceTimed and at that point he hadn't really acknowledged the triplet thing. I think he was sort of willfully willing it away. Then when we got on FaceTime, I said, you know, when I talk about my sisters, those are your biological daughters as well. He was like, yeah, I think that's much. Then we knew. I told them that we had our confirmed half sister. I showed him.

39:40

her Instagram, just a lot of information. Yeah. All at once. Yeah. Did he have biological children as well? I mean, that he knew about. Yes, he is very good has two daughters of his own. So you've got at least three half sisters. Yeah, I think four. We can see one other one, but I guess we don't even know if it's a girl. Yeah. There's some unidentified. There is a person who is our half sibling.

40:09

pops in and out of the cryobank data. They create a profile and then they delete it. And then the user day was so vague that I cannot figure out who it is. Yeah. So at least, let's see triplets and then two and then two. So that's three, five, seven, at least seven offspring. Yeah. Did Keith ever say how often he donated? Yes.

40:34

A bunch. A lot. He said he donated it. He doesn't know for sure. You can really tell in talking to him. I don't think he ever really thought that it would take. I think he thought it was a real gamble, but he said he donated it at least 10 times. Wow. So potentially more out there. So not like 90. Right. We had somebody on earlier this season that has found like 70 plus.

41:04

We're clear on that front for the most part. But yeah, I mean, we started talking to him and then I introduced him to Julian and Kendall. And then we did actually arrange a meeting and Julian and I went out and met him in late April. And how did that go? Well, I would say just another maybe anticlimactic. I'm not sure if that would be the way to put it. The strangest thing was definitely the likeness, the resemblance.

41:34

or their birth mom, my mom Kathleen. And Julian and I do also, but from when she was young, and then Kendall has born the most resemblance to her as we have grown up. I can see that. To see how much we looked like him, and obviously it was me and Julian who were there, so we are identical, was crazy. We've never seen a man really that we've been related to, besides my uncle.

42:01

And then, yeah, I mean, we went and had lunch and we went to the zoo and there wasn't any like crazy familial or chemical connection or anything like that. I don't think either of us really felt any sort of puzzle piece slide into place as far as having a new father figure in our life or anything like that. Like it definitely was like meeting a friend more than anything. But it was, it was totally chill. Do you feel like you'll continue to have a relationship with him? Yeah, I'm the more active.

42:31

in terms of communication, just in general, of all of us. It did throw a little bit of a wrench in my cogs, if you will. I did not realize in going and meeting him that it would make me so upset about my dad, Lee. So I've kept things a little bit more close to the vest and just had to really take the time to, because my dad passed away when I was so young, I think, grieve him for the first time because during that meeting I was like, well, I really wish that this was my dad.

43:00

I really wish that Lee was here. So that was difficult. And I think, yeah, I'm sure communication will persist. I would anticipate it be, I don't know though, like it could be such an ebb and a flow. He just wished us all happy birthday and sent us a nice gift card. I'm sure it'll be holidays and keeping in touch, but I don't think anything. We also just hate texting and talking on the phone. So it's not easy to...

43:25

coming to our lives at this point. Yeah, I think for me, it was more of the same. I think Ricky was going into this with a little bit more of an expectation, whereas this is normal for me to go meet someone that I'm related to but that did not raise me. So I think for me, it was just more of that feeling. It would be meeting Kathleen, so less of an emotional roller coaster.

43:50

for me. But it was great. He did welcome us with such open arms and it doesn't always go that way. So we have a lot of appreciation. Has he told his family about the situation? They are supportive of him getting to know us. I don't think it's something that will ever be. We will certainly never meet them or anything like that. Does Kathleen have any interest in meeting him? He has interest in meeting Kathleen. I cannot express to you. My mom is definition of like a wallflower.

44:20

Super shy, very introverted, very self-conscious. I think the more that I think about her as we have done the podcast and gotten to know more about her and the feedback that we get, I think that my mom thinks that, I think that she thinks her defining characteristic is that she's a woman who gave up her children. So she's not like a really confident person in that way. She's sentenced to stay close to home, keep people close.

44:46

I think that she would, but she's definitely not traveling to do it. She's not going everywhere. Yeah. But they were both very interested to see photos of each other and be like, oh, we made babies. Well, it sounds like there might be an event coming up that they might both attend, right? Wow. Cory's just going to throw that out there. So yeah.

45:16

I have a massive, massive friend group and my fiance, Colin, went to military boarding school and went to West Point. So he has a massive, massive friend group and my parents, or my mom and my stepdad are very religious. So we are keeping friends and family gathering separate and we will probably keep it very, very teensy, teensy tiny. Gotcha. Okay. Smart.

45:47

She's a politician, people. Diplomacy matters, you know? Absolutely. Well, again, this has just been fantastic. We love you guys. It's just so fun to talk to you and look at you and see the similarities. And kudos for doing the podcast. And you're going to do another season, right? Oh, yeah. We are. We have already started recording for season two. We hope to have you guys on it, in fact.

46:14

I would love to get that scheduled. Absolutely. But yeah, so for the first season, we told our story, which was... Exhausting. Transformative and exhausting. And so we wanted to kind of lay that foundation and moving forward, just like you guys, we will be interviewing others that have... We kind of want to lean more into the who is your father kind of...

46:36

father relationship dynamic. So yes, we have started recording. We'll probably air sometime in August. August, September. August, September. And we're so excited. Excellent. Well, thank you so much for joining us and great job on the podcast. And yeah, we can't wait to be guests on Luke, Who Is Your Father? Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you guys. These guys are so lovely. Okay. Can we have you hang on just for a second?

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