I just heard a story on the radio show The World that made me pull over in the nearest parking lot. I wanted to concentrate on the story and wasn’t sure I could trust my driving until I’d gathered my thoughts. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
A young American man, Dan Matthews, was adopted from South Korea when he was an infant. After many years of choosing not to, he decided to see whether the adoption agency involved could help him locate his birth parents. When they responded, he learned that not only were his birth parents still married, he had a sister and a twin brother. Genetic testing eventually found them to be identical twins.
I confess that I’m as fascinated as the next person by stories of twins separated at birth. I often wonder about how many of my identical daughters’ similarities can be chalked up to simply being raised in the same home with the same set of expectations. Looking at twins who never crossed paths between birth and adulthood is a window into what sorts of things genetics can contribute to. That said, I expect those stories to be about older people, from a time before people understood how much a newborn can understand, from a time before people understood that the twin bond starts in utero.
I look at my daughters, M and J. I see the primacy that Sister holds in their lives. As they tell me, frequently, “Sissy is the importantest person in my life.” They get on each other’s nerves more often than I like to admit, but they share a bond that I can only watch and wonder at. I will never experience anything so visceral, intense, and beautiful. The mother-child bond comes close, but the twin bond as something else.
Separating multiples, whether identical or fraternal, seems to me to be a form of abuse. Dan, the American brother, is impressive in his forgiveness. He says that although he’s never asked directly why his birth parents chose to relinquish their rights to raise him, he suspects that they were unable to afford his early medical care.
The two brothers-by-birth-only are both rappers. They share quirks such as the way they eat. It sounds like Dan’s parents are wonderful ones, supportive and accepting. Perhaps he wouldn’t have survived had his birth parents been responsible for his infant medical care. Perhaps separating the brothers was the right call.
What I know is that I, having seen twinship up close and personal, would never in a million years want my daughters or any other multiples to be raised separately unless they so choose. When my ex and I divorced, there was no question that the girls would stay together, whichever parent were to raise them. My sister is adopted. Her biological mother was a child herself, so my sister probably has biological siblings out there in the world. I don’t consider that separation to be abusive. There is something special about multiples. I’m pretty sure I thought that even before I got to join the exclusive club that is the twin universe.
What are your thoughts on separating twins to be raised by different parents? Does it make a difference if they’re fraternal as opposed to identical?
Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school in order to better protect their privacy and was delighted to have the opportunity to keep a foot in the blogosphere through HDYDI. She also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.