Born in 1934, the Dionne quintuplets were the world's first known quintuplets to live past infancy. Annette, Cecile, Emilie, Marie and Yvonne were taken from their parents by the government of Ontario and made into a tourist attraction: Quintland.
Quintland (technically, the Dafoe Hospital and Nursery) was incredibly lucrative -- for the government. The girls spent their time, day in and day out, being displayed on balconies and watched by strangers as they played. A trust fund was set up for them, but when they reached adulthood, less than half the money was left: $800,000 for the children who'd brought in $500 million in 10 years. (The government settled with them later in life for $4 million.)
They Dionnes wrote an autobiography detailing their sheltered existence and misery growing up, both in Quintland and in their parents' home. They described their lives as "ruined" by exploitation.
In 2007, the world met a new family of multiples through their TVs: the Gosselins. A set of twins, sextuplets and their parents lived their daily lives on a TLC show called "Jon & Kate Plus 8." The show was a smash hit, but it didn't take long for the backlash to arrive. Questions were raised about child labor laws. Jon and Kate's marriage disintegrated on TV, and the show had to be rebranded "Kate Plus 8" as the two went through a very nasty, very public divorce. The Gosselins fought back against criticism, saying they needed the money from the show to raise the children.
MOST's statement on multiples and media exposure cautions, "All parties should appreciate that the potential impact of having an audience closely following the intimate details of a family's life, including the ups and inevitably the downs, may not be clear until years later."
Media attention is natural for multiples. So is extra attention from friends, family and strangers. But it's important to remember that your kids are all individuals (even if, as babies, they may not have all that much personality yet). Don't call them "the triplets," call them Larry, Moe and Curly -- and encourage others to do the same. This is why dressing them alike can backfire. Not only is it potentially confusing, it sets up the child as a member of a unit. It can be tough to find your own way in later years when you have no sense of "you."
We've prepared you as best as we can with an article. Now it's time to get out there and start getting ready for your big, beautiful family.
- DePalma, Anthony. "The Babies of Quintland Now: Broke, and Bitter." New York Times. March 4, 1998. (Feb. 21, 2012) http://www.nytimes.com/1998/03/04/world/st-bruno-journal-the-babies-of-quintland-now-broke-and-bitter.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm
- Gaffney, Dennis. "The Story of the Dionne Quintuplets." Antiques Roadshow Online. PBS. March 23, 2009. (Feb. 20, 2012) http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/fts/wichita_200803A12.html
- Keri, Jonah. E-mail interview. Feb. 19, 2012.
- Mothers of Supertwins (MOST). http://www.mostonline.org.
- Terry, Haley. E-mail interview. Feb. 21, 2012.