Identical Twins, Separated at Birth by 7000 Miles

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Categories Adoption, Identical, Multiples in the News

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 and Multicultural Mothering.

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Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 10-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. They live in the Austin, TX suburbs, where Sadia works full time in information technology. She contributes to a number of parenting websites and magazines and also runs The Mommy Blogging Guide, where she answers mommy bloggers' technical questions.

4 thoughts on “Identical Twins, Separated at Birth by 7000 Miles”

  1. Wow that is something. I have twins to, but not identical. They are always together. We tried to put them in different classrooms when they started school and it did not go well. Now they are together all day every day. My son will play barbies with his sister, and she will play trucks with him.

  2. I don’t have any siblings, so I don’t have a personal point of reference, but I love to observe the way my girls revolve around each other. That’s really the best word I can use to describe their relationship…they are not always playing together, but I know they are always in each others’ periphery in one way or another.

    These separated-at-birth stories are always amazing to me as a case nature vs. nurture. Before I had children, I think I thought that nurture played the bigger role in development. I wouldn’t venture to suggest a percentage, but I now see with my girls — and certainly via stories like this one — the role that nature plays, as well.

  3. I’m 16 years old, almost 17, and I’m doing a college application essay on twins. More specifically, twins separated at birth. You see, believe it or not, I have an identical twin and we were separated at birth. We live over a 1,000 miles away from each other, but still keep in contact. We were adopted into separate families, but luckily, the Chinese orphanage we were adopted from notified our parents of a possible relation before leaving China. So our parents had a DNA test, which proved our relation. Of course, any look at the two of us together would confirm it also. Our twin bond, though it spans over 1,000 miles, is no less strong than the bond that your twins have. We weren’t as close when we were younger, but now we are as close as we were in the womb (though not as physical). I read the post, and I think that splitting up twins, from my perspective, is not entirely bad either. At first glance it is inherently wrong, and I think that twins should be kept together if possible, however I don’t discredit mothers who have decided to give their twins up for adoption. In fact, they deserved to be praised and congratulated because more often than not, the decision to give up your children is probably one of the hardest decisions a mother can make. I don’t know about our biological mother–we were abandoned so the orphanage has no information on our past. However, I don’t believe she made the decision lightly, and I am glad that she decided to give us up. My life in America is no doubt better than what I would have received in China. My sister would agree with me. My parents (adoptive parents, but my real parents nonetheless) have spoiled me and loved me. I have amazing opportunities here–I am applying to colleges currently and might(hopefully) be attending an Ivy League Institution next Fall. I think Dan forgives his biological family so easily because he knows that he got the better end of the bargain. I know that’s why I forgave my biological mother, whoever she is.
    My sister and I are very similar–in personality, style, intelligence, and disposition. However, we have slight differences in music taste, clothes taste, and writing style. She is slightly taller than I am (though that isn’t saying much) and she has shorter hair than I do. She even wears contacts, while I wear glasses. Our environment has shaped us just as much as our DNA has.
    I just decided to respond to the post because I wanted to let you to understand Dan’s situation from a different perspective: the perspective of the twin. I don’t blame my biological mother for abandoning my sister and I, or the orphanage for separating us. Being separated at birth was truly one of the best things that ever happened to me.
    Thanks for reading!

    1. Samantha, thank you so much for your perspective! What a unique and wonderful gift you have in both wonderful parents and your bond to your sister.

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