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Philadelphia Daily News from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania • Page 5

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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NEWS Brood awakening for 7 siblings Raised separately as kids, they gather for the first time mm" t04 Meghan Bredell, 27, in Rittenhouse ma as a teenager, met a guy she loved in South Jersey and married him. They scratched through life, together and apart, in different towns in Camden County, and made decisions that didn't make life any easier. Peggy worked at McDonald's, Target and nursing homes, never making more than minimum wage. Her husband was a dreamer. There was a passion, obviously, but when Peggy got pregnant it always put a fear in him.

"He would come and go," she said. "Every time I got pregnant, he would leave." The first two children, Jacob Hall and Mary King, had a brief semblance of the "nuclear family" with their parents in Camden before being sent out to live with Peggy's father in Oklahoma. King, whose book is being released today, said she remembers going to visit potential adoptive parents with her mother when she was pregnant. She saw it as 'sharing' "I remember thinking of it as sharing, that we had more babies than we can handle, so we shared them," King, 32, said recently from Los Angeles. Becca King, 31, was third, and she grew up in Oklahoma.

Lisa Frerking, 30, was fourth and adopted by a family in Toms River, Ocean County. Rebekah (yes, two sisters with the same name) Henson was adopted by a family in Medford Lakes, Burlington County, and now lives in Mana-yunk. She was adopted through a church in Gibbsboro, Camden County, that her parents and her biological parents all attended. Henson always knew that she was adopted, but her mind was blown in first grade when she BY JASON NARK Daily News Staff Writer, 215-854-5916 A FAMILY is unfolding in a rented flat in Los Angeles for the first time right now six sisters and their big brother, crying, laughing, confiding and bumping shoulders in all the bathrooms they never got to fight over. They have the same parents, similar features and talents, and some even had shared the same weird dreams about their teeth falling out.

Sometimes they'd lie awake at night under different roofs in adoptive homes in South Jersey or out in Oklahoma with a loving grandfather, wondering where the others were and why it had to be this way. The woman who gave birth to all seven is smiling in South Jersey, knowing that her children are together for the first time. Those decisions tore her heart up every time, she said, and she doesn't believe she could have given them a better life. "I felt like I was giving up their past for their future," Peggy, 54, said, choking up in a recent interview. "They weren't given up because they weren't loved.

They were given up because they were." The story of the seven siblings, who collectively call themselves "the Bananas" or, as the oldest sister's recent memoir is titled, The Bastards, is both confusing and simple to understand if you're able to withhold judgment. The children say the story has no villains. Peggy, whose real name is not used in the book, ran from Oklaho Rebekah Henson, 29, and sister learned she had siblings. It gnawed at her for years, she said, and she began searching for them earnestly in high school. "I had held them in my heart for so many years before we met," said Henson, 29.

Henson and her sister Meghan Bredell, the sixth born, both spoke to the Daily News recently at a Rittenhouse Square coffee shop. It's easy to see that they're sisters and it makes them happy to hear it. Bredell and the final child, Lesley Bredell, both grew up in the same household in Gibbsboro. They knew they were adopted but didn't know they had other siblings until college. Describing their lives to strangers, navigating all the new people coming in and out while fully loving the families that adopted them, has been a whirlwind, Meghan Bredell and Henson said.

"It's like living in an alternate universe," Henson said. ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Square. each other's makeup," said Frerking, who grew up an only child in her adoptive family. Some of them wonder whether it could have worked, all seven of them together in a tiny apartment, in some other universe.

"Sometimes I feel like I'm mourning a childhood I didn't have," Meghan Bredell said. That's why they're all in a sunny, eclectic house in L.A.'s Los Fel-iz neighborhood for a few days, making up for lost time and cramming in birthdays with hundreds of candles, bunk beds and an outdoor swing. They've all met one another separately in tearful reunions over the last decade, but they've never been together as seven. "It's so hard to find the time," King said. "We need a new holiday just for the seven of us." JasonNark All the children have met Peggy and stay in contact with her, but they are not quite as close with their biological father.

Peggy said she only wants them to be happy. "I told them all I never expect them to call me she said. Peggy believes that trading the past for the future paid off for them, and the children who spoke to the Daily News agreed, mostly. Most of them graduated from or are finishing college, and they are working or raising families. The youngest, Lesley, is living a "nomadic, fairy life" in Hawaii, Henson said, and everyone's jealous.

Some of the seven can't help but let their minds drift back. They've read stories about the effects of birth order, studies that have shown that siblings shape your life and they get pangs of sad ness. "We missed out on sharing Monday, June 22, 2015 PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS Pages.

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