Separating twins…

02 Nov


Separating twins and triplets in adoption (both domestic and international adoption) has been going on for years, I’ve written about it several times, and it’s a travesty to me.  Right now there are several sets of separated twins growing up whose stories have been made public, so just think of how many there could be right now that are kept private, or who don’t know it yet, if they ever do.  I looked back through my posts and can’t find that I talked about the first documentary done in 2010 on Mia and Alexandra meeting for the first time (Norwegian version), although I remember talking, and thinking deeply about it.

Red Thread Broken has an amazing post on the current documentary Twin Sisters, it’s a great response that I hope you will take the time to read.  I couldn’t have done it the justice she has.

Twin Sisters + Response 

Below is the 2010 first meeting between Alexandra and Mia when they were about six, I think.  It’s in two parts (combined is about 15 minutes).  It has both Norwegian and English and subtitles, and is easy to follow, I’m still trying to decide which documentary I prefer.


Posted by on November 2, 2014 in Adoption


Tags: , ,

19 responses to “Separating twins…

  1. iwishiwasadopted

    November 2, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    How can those women call themselves mothers? Who could keep identical twins apart. It’s monsterous. I hope when those girls grow up they will finally be together.


  2. 我是收养

    November 3, 2014 at 3:42 am

    Those videos are so heartbreaking. Parents often say they love their kids so much they would be willing to die for their kids, but these parents weren’t willing to sacrifice or inconvenience themselves at all for their kids? What kind of love is that? School Year in U.S., summers in Norway. One of the families physically moving to the same area as the other and having a split custody arrangement (preferably the Norwegain family, so the girls would have grown up in a more racially diverse area)… There were so many ways both families could have stayed involved while keeping the girls together.


    • Tiffany

      November 3, 2014 at 7:40 pm

      I don’t believe the area where they live in Norway is racially diverse at all. Sacramento, however, is quite diverse. I touched on why this kind of solution probably wouldn’t work in my response below, but I just wanted to note that Sac is a very diverse city.


  3. 我是收养

    November 3, 2014 at 3:43 am



  4. Tiffany

    November 3, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    This makes me so sad. But I think the adoptive parents were caught between a rock and a hard place, and still are. It isn’t so simple as just one picking up and moving since they are not in different states, but in completely different countries. There are visa requirements for both countries, and this just may absolutely not be an option. The same could possibly be true regarding longer visits or going to school in one country and spending summers in another. Again, this would be far easier if talking about one family in California and one in New York, but still fraught with many legal complications. Not to mention the issue of different parenting principles and beliefs. I wouldn’t be comfortable with other people raising my children who may not share our parenting ideals and philosophies, not to mention our moral and religious beliefs. And they didn’t know the DNA results until the children had been with them each for six months. Although it would be nice to think one could just “give up” a child to the other to keep the kids together, again, it is just not that simple. Set aside the unbelievable emotions involved in that, and from a legal standpoint, it might not even be possible.

    The tragedy feels harsher in that these are twin siblings, but I do wonder at the outpouring of anger over the separation of twins from one another compared to the separation of mother and child, child and other full siblings, child and grandparents…. Speaking as an adoptive and biological mother, I feel a lot of grief over the loss of the mother-child bond that occurs with adoption. I truly believe there is a deep and sacred bond between mother and child, one that is not meant to be severed. Adoption destroys all of these familial bonds, and it is an overall tragedy that this occurs. My daughter may not have a twin, but she has a family that she lost, and all my efforts could not have fixed that for her. It is a deeper societal issue at work that is a stronger force than one person. The same is true in China, where thousands and thousands of children have been separated from not only family but culture and heritage. I don’t think these adoptive parents could have done anything- had they disrupted, the children would have simply gone to another family. DNA tests take weeks, even under the best of circumstances, and China’s adoption program would not have allowed the potential parents to do so. They should have never been offered separately in the first place, but that is where our culture of corruption in adoption has brought us. The lure of two adoption fees is too strong for most agencies… why do the “right” thing when you can do the lucrative thing? Laws should be in place preventing the separation of twins as the majority of adoptive parents check the “twins are ok” box when completing the paperwork anyway. A large sibling group can be difficult to get adopted out, but not two young twin babies/toddlers. This was about money.

    Would I have done the same in their situation? I don’t know. I do know this is why I am against international adoptions (for the most part), and this is why my husband and I would not consider one. I did not want to be in any kind of position like this. The ethics become so blurred and you have to depend so much on an agency to do the right thing, which we all know is not their top priority. I feel for all the parties involved, but mostly, my heart breaks for two little girls who were never give a choice. My heart breaks, though, for every child who is adopted who was not given a choice, who was born into a family unable or unwilling to care for them.


    • TAO

      November 3, 2014 at 8:30 pm

      Tiffany – quarterbacking after the fact is easy – living it is hard. I do know that the US is a sending state, and as such, Mia could have been adopted by Alexandra’s parents as both the US and Norway are signatories to the Hague Intercountry Adoption Act. I don’t think Norway is both a receiving and sending country like the US is so going the other way probably wouldn’t have been possible. Would that have been the right solution – no idea – but it could have been done at the beginning. How China would react – don’t know because there are post placement reports so …


      • Tiffany

        November 3, 2014 at 8:50 pm

        Tao, my point is that is only supposition, not fact. It’s easy to say, “Oh, the other family could adopt her” (which does also bring into question for me the idea that children are so easily interchangeable….) but it isn’t necessarily legally true. We have no real way of knowing if that would have been feasible or not.


        • TAO

          November 3, 2014 at 9:17 pm

          I agree Tiffany, it’s far easier to be an armchair quarterback than make that decision in real life.

          I think though that sitting in the middle and watching expectant mothers being solicited to think of what is best for the child and put what is best for her to the side – should also be the same requirement for parents who adopt – what that best ends up being is anyone’s best guess…and I think that is what bothers me is that it isn’t part of the discussion on the adoptive side (you’ve witnessed that) near as much as it is seen on the other side.

          (shouldn’t be commenting today because I have splitting headache and that makes me grumpy)…


          • Tiffany

            November 4, 2014 at 9:09 pm

            I hope you are feeling better and that I didn’t contribute at all to your headache.

            I think we are saying the same thing. I think this is just as awful as you do, I just also think the agency and adoption industry deserve so much of the blame for creating a system where prospective adoptive parents end up in these situations with no time or support to figure them out. I am not trying to say PAPs have an automatic out because they do not. In their shoes, I would have some very grave concerns and fears about what my daughter would think of all this when she became a adult. Both girls have every right to be really angry with their parents. A major problem is that when adoptive parents speak out about ethics in adoption, we are shut up. So situations like this keep happening because PAPs aren’t prepared and aware. They have culpability in unethical situations (like this one) because they aren’t educated on the pitfalls and dangers. It’s easy to let them pass on this, but I’m not trying to say that at all. I just think that this particular situation was really hard to deal with in the moment, and even afterwards, it’s hard to know what the right and best thing to do is.


            • TAO

              November 4, 2014 at 9:22 pm

              No, you had nothing to do with the splitting headache – it was a result of days of insomnia combined with falling asleep in a chair which never bodes well…

              I get the being shut down. To some the definition of support means cheerleading right down that slippery slope they will likely come to regret. This whole who are you to judge what I want to do BS…

              Support is telling the truth – whether they want to hear it or not…


  5. dpen

    November 4, 2014 at 12:05 am

    Again, what kind of adoption agency seperates them in the first place..oh wait A typical one. I suppose having twins or triplets is quite the boon to an agency. This makes me so sad for the children. As far as it being any other sibling, bioparent, grandparent…no….it is not the same. Being a twin and born at the same time, from the same parents is HUGE to an adoptee.(or any twin ) There is absolutly no one else that can understand each other and be totally for each other then the ones that adoption happened to at the same time for the same reason.


  6. Beth

    November 4, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Hey dpen! good to see ya!
    I agree, what kind of agency, what kind of people separate twins in the first place?
    Greedy ones, just follow the money to find the motive.

    Who would trust an adoption agency? That’s my big question. Are people really hung up in the rainbow that much?

    I can’t imagine being a PAP, noticing the sister/twin thing is in the air, and choosing to go ahead with everything anyway. Now there is a mess made, a big mess for the twins. Good luck cleaning that one up, it’s not possible. And people wonder why we ‘preach’ this so much, why we hold PAP’s responsible for their choices in obtaining a baby. They say, but we didn’t know – I say – BS, you ignored the red flags and did what you wanted to do, you made a mess.

    I can’t imagine NOT teaming up as parents to the twins and finding a way to sue for fraud, for damages to the twins, and the afamilies. If enough attempted it, and if enough won, it would put people out of business, or put them in prison.
    Wouldn’t it? Is it possible for them to sue the liars for fraud?

    I wish people would stop messing with the twins. It’s not such an uncommon thing I think.
    It would be interesting to collect all of the “Twin Stories” and list them in one place.

    I have read many studies on twins separated at birth, on purpose, to see what happens. I remember reading about a place in Colorado, I think, that 40/50 years ago did testing like that. I lost the link a long time ago, it was too disturbing to keep, may have even been the cause death of my last computer LOL


    • Jess

      November 5, 2014 at 3:15 pm

      Beth, I’m not minimizing the awfulness of the situation, but as I said on RTB, agencies have no control over China when it comes to international adoption. Agencies remain toothless in the process. It has now been known (and documented) for some time that international adoption from China amounts to human trafficking but absolutely no one has been able to make headway with reform there, so a lawsuit is probably not an option. As someone from Human Rights Watch once told me, when you are looking in from the outside, your traction is going to be nil–they basically do whatever they want and don’t answer to you and me. The reason these babies were sent to different families is money. Someone on RTB disputed that, but the fact is that if you are assigned twins as ONE family, you only pay one orphanage donation (used to be $3000USD, is now $5000USD); however, if you are TWO families, China gets double the money.

      I doubt the a-parents could have stopped the process once they got there. For one thing, China is a culture where face-saving is the social glue. These girls were obviously separated for a reason (see above) and for the PAPs to point it out to the officials (the process there runs like an old-fashioned communiust bureaucracy) would have resulted in loss of face, the adoptions being halted immediately, the girls returned to their respective orphanages or foster parents, and the orphanage directors proposing the girls all over again to two different families–and you can be certain no one would be the wiser the second time around. Better for the PAPs to have gone through with the process and then discussed how to deal with it after IMO since they were open to the girls meeting and having a relationship–and let’s face it, some a-parents wouldn’t be. I know that’s a very unsatisfactory answer to many people on the other thread or perhaps here. I make no judgement about that; just commenting on the process and the fact that those red flags cropped up at the time when the PAPs were probably feeling the most stressed. Would you trust your eyes in a matter of minutes? Would you say something? I honestly don’t know what I would have done.

      I notice there are a lot of bogeymen in adoption. Sometimes they are not who we think they are and the path to more fairness and transparency is less obvious than we imagine. Don’t adopt from China? Don’t adopt internationally at all? Yes, that is my position today. But it isn’t everyone’s and it’s not up to me to tell a family facing a situation that I have never faced what to do. I hope the a-parents see that it is inevitable for this relationship to develop and as the girls mature, I hope they will engage in frank conversations with them about what THEY want and feel they must do. Spending whole school years with one another would be an option to consider, one would think. But as the girls reach adolescence, they should be calling the shots. Of course, money is probably a barrier. Nothing is simple.


      • Jess

        November 5, 2014 at 3:31 pm

        Update: Someone on RTB has posted that families proposed twins do pay the double fee but I have heard bloggers say the opposite–people who are in the middle of the process. So this may vary from region to region in China.


  7. Beth

    November 5, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    It’s not simple that’s for sure.
    The thing I keep coming back to tho is, American Adoption Agencies have total control in their choice to do business in China with adoption professionals there, and other countries that don’t smell so well. Their hands are not tied. American Agencies have mouthfuls of teeth to utilize, and sharp ones, yet they keep their mouths, and other’s that they possibly can, shut tight.

    Many choose to do business like this, like you explained, they choose to put PAP’s in these type of situations, and it’s not all about saving an orphan, it’s about business. They nearly have total control, they have the money, the buyers.
    Is that really the only way they can stay in business by dealing with organizations like this? They have free choice to say no to the known unethical. They absolutely know the unethical exists, and has existed previously in their own cases, yet they still participate in it.
    And so do many people seeking to adopt, those who choose to have a blind eye from the very beginning.
    And this is just another case to add to the very long list.

    Part of the problem imo, like Tiffany mentioned above, and I understand too well from an adoptees experience with it “A major problem is that when adoptive parents speak out about ethics in adoption, we are shut up. So situations like this keep happening because PAPs aren’t prepared and aware.”

    Yeah, I can understand why the ‘make the best of a mess made’ answer wasn’t swallowed so easily.
    Hey, life ain’t always perfect, we all know that. As well as some people suck, some business’ will cheat you, and Buyer Beware.

    Maybe the Chinese adoption professionals could better save face by not participating in unethical adoptions, and expecting their buyers to go along with whatever no matter what. I’d guess they know they don’t have to bother with that, since no one can say anything if they really want to take baby home, and don’t want to walk away from money and time spent.

    I think it is really sad that hopeful parents are being railroaded in this way. It really ticks me off.
    I think it’s super sad that so many people seem to choose to say nothing, ever, even after the fact, even worse is when many argue that these situations are really not what they often really are, or have been proven to be. It is how it is, no hope of change, everyone will adapt, the mess will be cleaned up good enough. Good enough to continue to keep doing it. over and over and over again

    I know there must be a good solution to this problem that so many find to endure.
    It just really seems like looking for a solution, let alone actually finding one, is not a priority for most, especially those in the biz.

    In this sad case, since it’s done, I hope the twins get to know each other, at the least. It really is sad and very disturbing what was done to them, on purpose, by “professionals”.


    • Jess

      November 5, 2014 at 10:13 pm

      Absolutely, agencies that know about the China process and continue to “do business” with the PRC have not made an ethical choice. The writing has been on the wall for six, seven years.

      Who gets babies is decided by one central government agency along with the orphanage directors. There is much less influence from outside agencies–they just take orders from China. It’s all one big system and everyone plays along because it’s worth a great deal of money. When I was home with my daughter for a few years I saw down and calculated what the government had made in just in orphanage donations by 2001 and it was something like $100 million (this excludes the revenue from the mini-tourism that occurs at the time of the adoption: you are taken to various cultural sites, restaurants, and shops to spend more $$). And the money just kept pouring in until adoptions started tapering off after 2005. Honestly, the only thing that has truly slowed the process is that the “orphans” just aren’t there anymore and even if they were at one point in the 1990s, we know these relinquishments were made out of duress.


  8. Valentine Logar

    November 9, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    I am ill, watching this. That is all, just ill.

    I do have a story to tell you though. I met (e-mail and phone only) another sister in the past six weeks. She found me through 23 And Me, it is very cool. Honestly, my bio father he spread himself far and wide, now we are all coming together.


    • TAO

      November 9, 2014 at 3:23 pm

      I’m so happy for you. It’s wonderful how people can connect now days. When I see so many looking and find out they’ve been looking for 40+ years it just seems so overwhelming. Love to hear the stories of wins.


      • Valentine Logar

        November 9, 2014 at 5:00 pm

        It is really rather fun, she and I are only two years apart and just getting to know each other. She is younger, born before my mother and father married, though she has a different mother.



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