And yet the extended web has its benefits: "I find it comforting to know that Dylan's siblings have similar challenges," Gwenyth says. "It tells me that there's nothing I did that made this happen to him. This is just the luck of the gene pool." She and Theresa see themselves as the driving engine of the Donor X families. Or is it one big family? In January many of the parents met for the first time—a great thrill. The kids are still young, and it remains to be seen whether or not they will decide to forge ties with one another as they grow older.
In the meantime, it's the mothers for whom these relationships are paramount. "Are you excited to see your brothers and sister?" Gwenyth asked Dylan three times when Theresa and her kids were on their way over the afternoon that I spent with them. Dylan didn't answer, and it was hard to imagine what he thought about the idea of siblings. But Gwenyth's feelings were clear. She and Theresa hugged and kissed and traded new observations. "See how much better his eye contact is?" Theresa asked Gwenyth, motioning to Joseph. Gwenyth nodded, and then they stood back while the children sang a naming song with Terri Trent, a special education teacher whom Gwenyth had asked to help with the visit. When it was Joseph's turn, he looked directly at Terri and said, "My name is Joseph." Theresa beamed.
Dylan played his part in the song, too. Last year, when Terri started working with him in preschool, he was isolated and couldn't find the words to talk to other children, despite his advanced reading and cognition. At almost 5, Dylan made his first friend in preschool. Socializing still isn't easy for him. He got upset when the triplets wouldn't sit still and listen to him play an eight-song concert on his keyboard. But before that frustration came a peaceful interlude. All four kids played on the keyboard together. Anna and Anthony and Joseph tapped away. Dylan held down a bass note. Gwenyth and Theresa drank in the music. The notes weren't in harmony, exactly, but then families rarely are.