Multiple Identical Siblings Hold Gathering In Washington
Chip Somodevilla  /  Getty Images
Two sets of triplets are parked next to each other July 8 at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington during a convention for families with multiples.
updated 7/8/2005 3:37:29 PM ET 2005-07-08T19:37:29

The sleepless nights and round-the-clock feedings can be tough for any new parent. But for Angelo Giafes, the father of triplets, the worst part was those stinky diapers.

“I hated the diapers. There were just so many of them,” Giafes says. He remembers changing 15 diapers a day. And that was on a good day.

His triplets — Demetri, Maia and Angelo— are 5 now so Giafes didn’t need to bring a trunk full of diapers from their home in Elkton, Md., for this weekend’s “convention” of triplets and quadruplets in Washington. More than 120 families gathered for games, music and tours of the city’s monuments.

For Brooke Laven, the best thing about being a triplet is having two best friends.

“They’re always there for me,” says the 16-year-old from Buffalo, Minn., as she sits on a couch with her sisters, Kelly and Alison.

The hazel-eyed blondes, who are identical, share everything: their clothes, their car, their makeup. Their father turned an extra bedroom into a makeup room for the girls. It has a huge mirror where the triplets can primp and gloss.

Their brother Justin, who’s 9, says sometimes it’s a pain living with teenage triplets. But now that they’re 16, he says, “they actually want to drive me places. I like that.”

A chance 'not to be unusual'
Jeanne Bracken of Crownsville, Md., the mother of 3-year-old Sean and 20-month-old triplets, Maggie, Ryan and Ian, says the convention offers the chance to “not be unusual.”

“It’s nice because you’re not standing out and people aren’t coming up to you and asking all kinds of crazy questions,” she says.

Multiple births are unusual — and more than two babies rarer still.

Only about 5 percent of live multiple births in the U.S. involve three or more babies. The federal National Center for Health Statistics reports 6,898 triplet births and 434 quadruplet births in 2002, the most recent year for which statistics are available. By comparison, twin births numbered 125,134 — out of 4 million births overall.

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The convention kicked off Thursday with a parade and wraps up Sunday with a breakfast for all the families. In between, there are workshops for the parents, pool parties for the kids and a canine demonstration by the Department of Homeland Security for older children.

Jeanie and Dan Saum of Fort Jennings, Ohio, have been busy helping their 15½-year-old boys — Scott, Craig and Keith — get their drivers’ licenses. Each boy must log 50 hours, which means the equivalent of an entire week in the car for the parents to cover all three.

“We try to keep things fair, and we’re in trouble if somebody gets ahead,” Jeanie Saum says.

The convention was organized by The Triplet Connection, a nonprofit group based in Spring City, Utah. Janet Bleyl founded the connection 22 years ago after giving birth to identical triplet boys. She has seven other children.

“It’s about families getting together to share in the commotion, the ups and downs,” she says.

Dorothy Giafes says raising triplets is a lot of work. But, she quickly adds, “we get three times the hugs and kisses and smiles.”

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