Note in August 2018 and November 2022: It has now been several years since we have heard about any of this activity. However since there is no way to know that it has stopped, we’re keeping this as advice to those who are getting involved in networking.
We regret having to mention it, but over the years we have seen the importance of letting people know that – strange but true – there are actually people out there in “the big world” who would impersonate a parent with multiple birth loss. Not many, but just enough to cause situations that are anywhere from awkward to very painful if people and groups are not aware of this. Though they have not bothered CLIMB for some time – partly because we have made our members aware – there are so many of our members as well as many other bereaved multiple birth parents who are participating in chat rooms, starting or joining e-mail lists, online groups, and other contacts of various kinds (as well as in media articles) that we want to take this opportunity to help you prevent this problem.
The “hoaxes” that we have known of are mainly women, and seem to have some psychological problems and are looking for new sources of attention and sympathy, or activities of some kind, as well as being attracted to multiples. We have found it helpful for people to simply use their sixth sense in any contacts with others, and if something makes you feel odd or uncomfortable, check it out a bit before going ahead. We are all strangers until we meet and – even though we have multiple birth and loss in common and really need and want to talk with others – it’s wise to observe all the usual cautions that you would with anyone you’ve just met, and get to know someone before revealing highly personal information, including your location. Even though these contacts with others are so important, you should never feel that you “must” reveal personal information.
We also strongly recommend that you never give personal or contact information about anyone else you may happen to know, your loss friends or contacts – even if it seems like a good idea, or is more convenient, or the person who has gotten in touch with you is insisting. It’s best to check with your friend or contact and let them be the one to give it if they choose to.
The other situation is the well-known “Phone Caller,” a man who apparently lived in Southern California and contacted many thousands of multiple birth mothers around the United States, Canada, and beyond beginning in the mid- to late 1980s. He did this to talk with women about their unusually large tummies, and was especially interested in those who have had Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, or triplets or higher (or both). He contacted many bereaved multiple birth parents even though he was well aware of our suffering. He quickly fooled the unsuspecting and people felt victimized afterward when they heard from others who he was. With the age of e-mail and the internet, he was able to “be” a woman and more easily access various sites and lists and seek off-list contacts. He also often requested photos. The best way to spot his contacts, if he is still operating, is to know that any talk about large tummies, no matter how innocent it may seem, is 99% (or more) sure to be him. With some information, he can be spotted ahead of time when he joins lists.
We strongly encourage everyone who is involved in any way in contacts, groups, or publicity of any kind – and especially those involved with TTTS or supertwins – to take heed and take a matter-of-fact attitude towards this unfortunate matter. We feel that anyone starting a group needs to be responsible for knowing about this and for allowing members to know so they can protect themselves and the group. If you are starting a group of some kind, you are welcome to check with us on some further tips. By working together we can all do what we need to do, without these problems!