Twins Separated at Birth

James Woodson / Stockbyte / Getty Images

In February 2014,  a set of twin girls discovered each other on Facebook and reunited in an amazing story of twins separated at birth. Samantha Futerman, an actress from Los Angeles, received a message from Anais Bordier, a French fashion designer living in London. The two girls realized that they looked exactly alike, were both adopted, and were born on the same day in the same city.  After meeting and undergoing DNA testing, they confirmed that they were twins separated at birth.

The University of Minnesota’s Center for Twin and Adoption Research studied more than 100 sets of twins separated at birth. The results of their study revealed many fascinating details about the individuals, but also interesting patterns about human development. Studying twins allows researches to evaluate the influence of genetic and environmental factors. The concept of nature vs. nurture addresses the debate of whether various traits are determined by genes or other factors. Twin research, especially on twins separated at birth, helps identify and confirm whether certain traits are innate, or predetermined by genetics, or attributable to external influences. Monozygotic -- or identical -- twins who are separated present a unique scenario of two individuals who have the same genetic background, but experience different environmental influences as they grow up in different families.

Most stories of twins are separated at birth due to circumstances related to adoption into different families.

In the book Entwined Lives, Nancy Segal describes some of the reasons for separation as death of a parent, divorce, poverty, wartime crisis, or “switching” babies. She recounts one incidence of twin girls in China in the 1940s who were separated due to political circumstances that forced the family to leave with only one baby.

Sometimes, adoption agencies were sometimes forced to separate twins because adoptive or foster families could not afford to care for multiple babies. There is also some evidence that suggests some sets of twins were purposely and secretly separated in the 1960s in the interest of research.In generations past, when attitudes about adoption often mandated secrecy about the circumstances, many individuals were unaware that they had a twin sibling. Often the revelation of a twin was a huge surprise. The subsequent reunion was a life-changing event for these individuals. Said Samantha Futerman after meeting her twin, Anais, "Realizing I have a sister, identical twin sister, everything and anything is possible in the world."

More: Read stories of twins separated at birth.

Continue Reading