Sunday, May 4, 2014

"Twin Sisters"

Dh & I stayed up last night to watch a fascinating, award-winning documentary on CBC News Network.  "Twin Sisters" is about two couples -- one from Sacramento, California, and one from a remote, tiny village in Norway -- who both travelled to China at the same time in 2004 to adopt babies from the same orphanage -- and through sheer coincidence, met, and eventually learned the baby girls they had adopted were in fact identical twin sisters.

The girls are being raised by their respective families in California and Norway -- but despite the geographic and language barriers, the families have maintained contact over the years and have travelled to visit each other. The documentary follows the California family on a visit to Norway -- just the second time the girls have met since they were adopted in China. It was both heartwarming and heartbreaking to watch. 

I keep wondering what bright bureaucrat in China made the decision to separate the girls (they probably though nobody would ever be the wiser), and how amazed their birth parents would be to find out what has happened to them. I sympathize with both sets of parents, who desperately wanted a baby, tackled the complex (and expensive) solution of international adoption -- and then found themselves facing yet another huge complication and dilemma. The Norwegian mother admits she hesitated to make contact initially, fearing the American parents would try to get custody of both twins.

Instead, both families have opened their hearts and homes to ensure their daughters grow up knowing each other. The girls speak frankly about missing each other when they're apart, and watching the American family's departure at the Norwegian airport had me reaching for the Kleenex box. 

It would be interesting to do a sequel in another 10 years or so and find out what has happened, whether the families have continued to remain close, how the girls feel about their unusual upbringing. I think the families have made the best of a very complicated and difficult situation.

The documentary is available online for a limited time to viewers in Canada, here. You can also find clips on YouTube (albeit some appear to be in Norwegian!!). 

I was reminded of a book I read several years ago by and about Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein -- identical twin sisters who were adopted separately and then learned of each other's existence and reunited as adults. It's called Identical Strangers.  Well worth a read.  

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