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Wendy Kramer and the Donor Sibling Registry Part 2
Episode 802nd January 2024 • Family Twist • Corey and Kendall Stulce
00:00:00 00:35:20

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Welcome back to our conversation with Wendy Kramer. In this episode, Wendy delves deeper into the intricacies of donor conception, sharing the empowering journey she and her son, Ryan, embarked on and the broader implications for donor-conceived individuals and their families.

Wendy Kramer and the Donor Sibling Registry Part 2

Summary of Episode Highlights:

  • A Team Approach to Donor Conception: Wendy emphasizes how she and her son tackled the challenges and questions of donor conception together.
  • The Evolving Age Range of Half Siblings: Fascinating insights into the age diversity within the community of donor siblings and its implications.
  • The Shock of Discovery through DNA Testing: Wendy discusses recent cases where individuals discover their donor-conceived status unexpectedly through DNA testing.
  • Counseling and Support for Donor-Conceived Families: Wendy talks about her role in counseling families who are navigating the complexities of donor conception.
  • The Impact of Secrecy in Family Life: An exploration of the emotional turmoil caused by the lack of transparency in donor-conceived families.
  • Understanding and Respecting Children's Curiosity: Wendy highlights the importance of acknowledging and respecting a child's curiosity about their biological origins.

This episode with Wendy Kramer deepens our understanding of the emotional and social dynamics in the world of donor conception. Her insights remind us of the power of honesty, respect, and empathy in family relationships. If you've been moved by this conversation, please rate, follow, and review Family Twist to help us share more stories like Wendy's.

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: Absolutely. That's a great message. Yeah. I have a question, do you know the age range of Ryan's half siblings?

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: Very cool.

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: Wow. Interesting. Wow. Hmm. That's amazing.

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: Right. Wow.

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: Oh.

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: For sure. Absolutely. And you know, uh, I can't put myself in a parent's position, but I can't imagine keeping a secret like that and and, and especially today, knowing that [00:39:00] ancestry and 23andMe are like, everybody knows what that is that you say Ancestry and they automatically know, oh yeah, the DNA test. So it's like, okay, gotta be in the back of your mind that this could be coming out, you know, so so why Not just be honest?

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: Absolutely.

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: Well, you know and we experience both sides of that because Kendall was adopted as an infant and he's always known he was adopted and the love for his parents is, I mean, we talk about them every day, you know, and they've been gone for a long time. I've never got to meet them, unfortunately, but you know, it's, but they're part of our life every day. And then on the flip side, when we found his birth family, well, his mother still has not acknowledged, you know, six years in, you [00:41:00] know, she's never, yeah.

I mean,

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: I, I. It doesn't make it less painful though. No, no, it's true. It's I, I try to be adult about it, but I have my moments. Corey will tell you for sure. Yeah. I mean, when I, when I struggle and, you know, I have deep love for my sisters, my mother's two daughters and my half brother on that side, but it's difficult for me to relate to them at some level because [00:42:00] of this disconnect between, you know, I don't have a relationship with our mother and, um, I joked with my sisters a long time. ago and said, if one more person tells me how wonderful she is, I'm going to throw up like, I don't need to hear that anymore. you know what I mean? It's like, to me, she has a lot to prove, you know, and, um, and I'm, she probably is a good person, but just, it's an awkward, unfair, position.

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she can't? Do you know

why?

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yeah,

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can't do

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wendy_kramer-3vycqixmm_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: The thing is, both things can happen at the same time. It's not one or the other, right? [00:44:00] So you have your anger. It's appropriate, it's not like it's inappropriate anger. No, it's totally appropriate, and, at the same time, you don't have to wait for the anger to be gone. At the same time, you can keep exploring the empathetic part of like, given what she has, she's doing the best that she can do. And right now she can't do it. She doesn't have the ability to take those next steps. And it's okay to acknowledge both of those. And I'm really pissed off, you know, like. It's not fair and it isn't fair, right? So it's all appropriate, but it can all happen at the same time so that maybe you can feel that there's some kind of a movement in process too. You don't want to get stuck in the anger,

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wendy_kramer-3vycqixmm_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: Well, back

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Especially back then it was, there was such a different stigma attached to her as a pregnant teen. So

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: Exactly. Yeah, Exactly.

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: Right. Surprise.

Yeah.

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: Absolutely. And my mother's sister has been wonderful. She's great to Corey and me, you know, she texts us, she calls us, she sends us cards. She's just, you know, she's not a replacement for my mother, but she definitely, um, fills the bill for a nice auntie. Well, and it's funny when you mentioned Ryan sending the email to Lance, it immediately reminded me of Kendall couldn't once he, he and his, uh, his brother found out like discovered together, you know, who his birth mother was and, and he just, I'm like, well, let's pause. Let's pause for a minute. Yes, they're on Facebook. Yes, you could message them, but let's, let's just, let's take a pause. No, no, he messaged everybody he could immediately. I couldn't do, I couldn't do it. I was 47 at the time and I said, I have waited 47 years to find these people. What if [00:47:00] something bad's about to happen? I have to reach out to them this instant. So I completely can relate to Ryan's sentiment. Yeah. And he did, he laid a shocker out there because his sister got the message and was confused by it because she had no idea that Kendall existed. And she showed the message to Kendall's mother and she went bone white and almost fainted. Yeah. And it's like, okay, I guess this is true then because,

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: and I think one thing that's really unfair is that you're burdening whoever else knows the secret, even if they're [00:48:00] not the parent, you're burdening them as well. So the only people that knew, as far as we know, were her husband and her sister. And it's like, you know, this this sweet woman who, can't. No, I can't talk about it. Can't say anything about it, but knows it knows like I've got a I've got a nephew out there somewhere, you know that I probably will never get to meet. Well, and my mother is still dealing with that because her husband's family is huge and they don't know about me. So, it's bizarre. It's like, I'm 53 years old. How long do you need to keep this secret?

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: I think

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: Or was, you know, promiscuous at such a young age, you know, it's like, you know, quickly do the math.

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: I'm sure there's got be some guilt there. There's got to be guilt there. I'm sure, Yeah.

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family?

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wendy_kramer-3vycqixmm_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: Well, there you go. I mean, that explains a lot too. So in that cultural realm, it's harder for us to understand because we're not in that, but if we were in that cultural realm, we might feel strongly about keeping the secret too, because we're going to be judged by our peers, So it makes more sense.

Yeah.

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wendy_kramer-3vycqixmm_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: Right. Right. So you're constantly having to

reconcile. Yeah. got. Really good things that you're happy that they happen this way. Then you have the really frustrating thing with the woman who really needs to get in to see a therapist to work through this, you know,

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wendy_kramer-3vycqixmm_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: you know like I always tell people and no doesn't mean a no forever So I know, it's still no and it's been six years, but you never shut the door totally like sometimes people just come around in their own time, you know, and so your door isn't slammed closed forever. There's always hope there, Right? That she will an epiphany. Something will happen where she knows it's the right thing to do.

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I just, yeah,

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: just, want to know

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But I, I think at that point you'd probably let go of the anger just like that. Right. I think be like all gone because now we have what I want to have. Yeah. So yeah. Oh boy. I get it. I really get it. I mean, I talked to a lot of donor conceived people and parents who reach out to the donors and the donor spouse isn't on board, like the spouse is saying, Hey, don't you don't even have time for our kids. How are you going to make time for all these other kids? Or I've had one spouse say, if you connect with your donor kids, I will commit suicide. I mean, sometimes it's like that strong of the spouse and the guy says no. There's [00:52:00] the shame of being a donor. I sold my sperm and I'm ashamed of that and I'm embarrassed if the world knew about that. So it's very parallel here in that embarrassment and shame and what other people will think or demands that they make on you are all pushing you into keeping a secret, right? And what that secret does is hurt another human being because you can't be there in the way that you should be for another human that you helped to create.

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wendy_kramer-3vycqixmm_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: Oh, well, secrecy implies shame, right? So they're saying that there's something to be ashamed of. Well, yeah, you sold your sperm, but you helped you know, like, I wouldn't have my son if somebody hadn't [00:53:00] sold their sperm, you know, but I think some guys are ashamed that they did that, that they actually, created many human beings in the world that they have no responsibility for and that doesn't feel right to them.

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wendy_kramer-3vycqixmm_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: And so they're ashamed or embarrassed about it, and therefore they keep it a secret. Or infertility, you know, especially in sperm donor families the males infertility still there's shame around not fully a man if I'm infertile, and that's another reason for, better keep everything hush hush, you know, or everybody would know I was infertile or I am infertile and that's really embarrassing.

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Uh, yeah.

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: exactly

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: For sure. So, Wendy, I think you would know this probably better than anybody we've ever talked to, but something that we've talked aboutbetween me and Kendall and, a couple of our guests, just because we interviewed a brother and sister who knew each other as teenagers working together, but didn't know that they were half siblings, and I think that even contemplated dating, and a lot of people are coming from the same region. So have you encountered donor conceived people who, yeah,

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: Yeah. Yeah. We've got to assume that there are half siblings that are married and don't know it. Don't know that they're half siblings.

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: Hmm.

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: Right. Yeah.

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: That's right. Absolutely. That's right. Absolutely. [00:56:00] Wow. Well, this has been, fantastic.

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: Thank you. and again, just, I mean, you're a cool mom, so I hope you know that. And I, and I hope Ryan tells you that on the regular.

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: And I'm going to think about all the similarities that came up between your story and my story, a lot because, you know, I was so fortunate to have very, very forthcoming adoptive parents who never made me feel stigmatized at all. My hometown, I have to give it credit again, not very progressive, but very open to the fact that I was an adopted kid who talked about it a lot, like kind of like how Ryan walked up to adults. I wasn't quite at that level of, talking about it, but I remember many times when I would meet my parent's friends who hadn't seen them for, you know, a few [00:57:00] years and it would always make us chuckle my mom, dad, and me when people would say, oh, this is your son, I can see, Kendall, you look so much like, and I'm like, me at five years old, I was like, that's cute. That's sweet. That's not real. I don't really look like these people, I love them, they're handsome and beautiful, but I'm not their kid. You know what I mean? Like I was just very forthcoming and very like, it's okay. I got this, you know?

And, um,

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: I respected my parents so much for just being truthful. I really did. Yeah.

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: I always was. I remember my mother told me that I was like four and I would come in and say, you know, maybe we'd had one of those, um, interactions with people. And I'd [00:58:00] say things like, well, I don't really look like the Montgomery side of the family or the Austin side of the family. I wonder who I do look like. And my mother, of course, was very nurtured or they both were, but she would hug me and say, Oh, honey, that doesn't matter. But she understood what I was asking. You know, she understood that at some point that was going to become even more important to me. And it did, you know, especially because I lost them both so young, my mother died when I was 10 and my dad, when I was 16. So for me, I was already ready, you know, but as. soon as they both had passed, I definitely like was ready to just jump headlong into any avenue I could use to find my biological family. Of course, you know, it was a private adoption, there really wasn't much, I had many doors slammed. I wrote letters like Ryan, I just happened to be 18 when I did it. But, it was disheartening and you just start to really, I kind of got to a point of [00:59:00] acceptance in my twenties, where I was like, I'm never going to find anybody, you know, this is long before the DNA option was there. And I just thought, well, that's okay. I've always been an only child and I still am. And that's okay. And I felt fortunate to have all the cousins and aunts and uncles that I had. So, you know, you kind of just stifle that interest at some point, sadly, until, you know, all this DNA stuff became a possibility. Yeah. I'm a journalist that I could not have the story not be complete. So I pushed and pushed and, pushed and, and that's, it happened.

Yeah. And then

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: I think so. Oh, for sure. For sure. Yeah,

It's, you know,

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of our stories, right?

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Absolutely.

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every month. So

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wendy_kramer-3vycqixmm_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: Ah, so you could get some more

half You

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wendy_kramer-3vycqixmm_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: That's funny

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wendy_kramer-3vycqixmm_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: oh my Holy

oh

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wendy_kramer-3vycqixmm_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: well,

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wendy_kramer-3vycqixmm_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: that's a story.

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wendy_kramer-3vycqixmm_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: Have you written a book?

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said, we're still in the

middle of

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kendall_austin_stulce___corey_stulce-32_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: Oh yeah. And we've learned so much and met so many wonderful people through this podcast. And like, it's a free therapy session for us, you know, every time we interview somebody, which is, which is great, but it's just, I mean, you know, Kendall is part of this greater community and it's not [01:02:00] just adoptees and donor, it's, it's everybody there. They're really part of that community. And if we can shine a little light and help somebody or maybe convince a parent to share that secret finally, then our job is complete.

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to make a family

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you know, who doesn't want bigger family, right? You know, I mean,

re living in New England and [:

wendy_kramer-3vycqixmm_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: That's the whole thing. It's not like there's only a certain amount of love that I have and, then that's going to get used up. It's like, no, if you have three family members, there's enough love, and if you have 50 or 100 family members, it's still enough love to go around and you know, it's just, yeah, it's not a finite thing. just, you know, expanding family is, makes life interesting.

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wendy_kramer-3vycqixmm_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: I have three, I get it's just me, one person and three, you guys are two guys and five. I

I totally

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wendy_kramer-3vycqixmm_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: It's, the only time it's hard is when I have three dogs

and two hands. So you have to, if you're getting them all at once, you got to keep moving everybody gets a pet. the only

challenging thing.

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Yeah.

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do it.

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wendy_kramer-3vycqixmm_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: I will, uh, I'll shoot him an email today. uh, yeah, I don't, you know, he's super busy and everything, so I, I'm very picky with the things that I say, cause I know he It's hard for him to say no to me,

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wendy_kramer-3vycqixmm_raw-audio_wendy-kramer---donorsiblingregistry_2023-oct-21-0330pm_family_twist podcas: I'm very careful with the things that I request from

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good too.

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Oh, oh, all right. We'll care of you guys. Thanks

so much. All right.

Bye.

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