New Documentary Explores Twins Secretly Adopted Separately for Clandestine Study

Imagine you are a grown adult who may be driving down the road or in the grocery store, and you get a phone call informing you that you have an identical twin who was secretly adopted separately. How would you react? Would you believe the person you were talking to?

That is what happened to over 15 people who were adopted as infants from the same adoption agency. Neither they nor their adoptive parents were ever told they had a twin or were part of triplets.

In the 1960s, Louise Wise Services, an adoption agency, was separating identical twins and in one case, triplets, for adoption. However, the children were placed only if the adoptive parents agreed to be part of a “study” and allowed people to come to their home regularly to monitor the children—according to this news article. The parents agreed to this because they wanted to adopt a child and felt like the agency wasn’t giving them a choice.

In reality, a secret study was taking place to see how the behavioral traits of the twins differed when growing up in different environments.  The study was based on theories presented by a Yale University psychiatrist. At age 35 Mr. Burack, adopted in 1963, contacted the agency and was told that he had an identical twin brother, but New York law prohibited any additional information. He went two years before a phone call provided him with an answer that would help him find his brother.

Fortunately, many of these twins and triplets are now finding each other and meeting. A 20/20 documentary, The Twinning Reaction, was recently produced and documented the negative effects of splitting twins. Lori Shinseki, the filmmaker, stated that “The easiest way to explain the twinning reaction is that it is the twin bond that’s so obvious to us today, in the womb together, in their crib together, as touching and holding each other, looking to each other, interacting from a very, very young age,” as reported in this article. The documentary has helped many multiples find answers and explain reasons for their feelings. It related the stories of separated twins and the impact on their lives that they were not told about their sibling. It verifies the importance of the relationship between twins.