Join 3,382 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


You look familiar.
June 1, 2008 11:20 PM   Subscribe

Two Spanish women meet in their late twenties and realize that they're identical twins. The hospital had accidentally swapped one with another random newborn, and each family had unknowingly taken home the wrong baby. Now all three women - the two actual twins, and the one fake twin - are suing the hospital, who seriously did not have their act together. But there are all sorts of ways this could happen. For example...

Others:
Tom Patterson and Steve Tazumi
Jim Lewis and Jim Springer, the "Jim Twins"
Daphne Goodship and Barbara Herbert, the "Giggle Twins"
Debbie Mehlman and Sharon Poset
Roger Brooks and Tony Milasi
Sharon McKendrick and Susan Evers
And:
1997 Psychology Today article
The Minnesota Center for Twin & Family Research
posted by granted (28 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
great post.
posted by cell divide at 11:43 PM on June 1, 2008


great post.
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:47 PM on June 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


great post.
posted by farishta at 11:50 PM on June 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


There was a period when some adoption agencies with twins given up by young mothers would separate them, because it was thought that it would be easier to place single babies than twins. Often those didn't know they were twins; some never found out.

There was a case I saw on TV. Two young men started attending the same college. They didn't know one another but they were identical, so it isn't too surprising that eventually one of them ran into a friend of the other, who greeted him by the wrong name. After some confusion, they were brought together, and it became apparent they were twins.

Their picture got put into the newspaper. Then one of them received a phone call. Turns out there was a third. Friends of his saw the picture. At the time that the three of them did the TV interview (this must have been 25 years ago) they were wondering if there might even have been a fourth.
posted by Class Goat at 11:51 PM on June 1, 2008


Class Goat-- I was just thinking of the same story!

Also, great post.
posted by maryh at 11:59 PM on June 1, 2008


I was kinda expecting that they both independently took up a career in marine biology, married guys named Jose and used identical wallpaper for their bedrooms, or something like that.

Still, great post.
posted by sour cream at 12:06 AM on June 2, 2008


Fascinating stuff. It made me wonder - these two stories from the hospital have only been discovered because there were identical twins involved. How many individual babies were misplaced, and will never find out because they have no identical twin to run into one day?
posted by jacalata at 12:31 AM on June 2, 2008


This also happened to me.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 1:32 AM on June 2, 2008


Yes, but which one is the evil twin?
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 2:43 AM on June 2, 2008


The one with the goatee, of course.
posted by djfiander at 4:30 AM on June 2, 2008


Who invented the idiocy of separating the mother and newborn in hospitals in the first place? My baby was snuggled in my arms the entire time that we were there.
posted by dabitch at 4:48 AM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Fantastic post! I read Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein's book Identical Strangers a few months ago and I was completely intrigued by it the entire time - couldn't put it down.
posted by mewithoutyou at 5:07 AM on June 2, 2008


I'm not sure that bankrupting a hospital is the right way to get compensatred for years of living apart.

Also, things must get earily weird for the newly discovered "non-twin", what a loss of identity!
posted by Vindaloo at 6:00 AM on June 2, 2008


As a human being, the most remarkable thing about watching the birth of my sons was watching the birth of my sons. As a lawyer, the most remarkable thing (in both cases, I don't have twins) was that the hospital started hanging tags off their limbs before the entire baby was even out of my wife. The very first bit that emerges gets tagged and each bit that emerges after that, regardless of the order in which they emerge, gets tagged as well -- as if the kid were Voltron and the hospital were afraid he was suddenly going to fly apart into component lions.

It's truly amazing the things U.S. hospitals go through to make sure that (1) this kind of thing doesn't happen and (2) no one makes off with a baby.
posted by The Bellman at 7:08 AM on June 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


Who invented the idiocy of separating the mother and newborn in hospitals in the first place?

People without effective antibiotics and vaccines who didn't like seeing babies die from infectious diseases?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:15 AM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


You forgot another possible scenario. Sometimes identical twins are born and the parents divorce soom thereafter and each takes one of the twins and raises her without knowledge of the other. It's happened twice to my knowledge.

Luckily they are usually reunited at camp.
posted by Bonzai at 7:26 AM on June 2, 2008 [10 favorites]


I suspect the practice of separating the mother and newborn came about in the days when they'd also knock the mother out for the delivery. Afterwards, she wasn't coherent enough to care for the infant.
posted by onhazier at 7:27 AM on June 2, 2008


...And I said, "Thanks! People say that a lot in these dreams."
posted by SlyBevel at 7:52 AM on June 2, 2008


These Shakespeare fans are getting out of hand.
posted by GuyZero at 7:52 AM on June 2, 2008


Unfortunately the case of the reunited triplets didn't end well:

1980: Separated Triplets Reunite

When Robert Shafran of Scarsdale started college upstate, people mistook him for a student from New Hyde Park named Eddy Galland. A friend of Galland’s learned the two men shared the same birthday and introduced them. Not only did they talk and laugh alike, they even had the same birthmarks. After hearing about the "twins’" reunion, David Kellman of Howard Beach, a Queens College freshman, contacted them. The three learned they were identical triplets who were born on July 12, 1961 and separated at birth. They later found out they had been part of a government child development study, although their adoptive parents had never been told of the existence of siblings. After their brief celebrity, Kellman opened a restaurant and Shafran studied law. Galland later committed suicide.


http://www.newsday.com/other/special/ny-iholi0328story,0,3322911.htmlstory
posted by etaoin at 8:35 AM on June 2, 2008


dabitch - kids who need to be in isolation for health reasons (like I did).
posted by small_ruminant at 9:47 AM on June 2, 2008


...the hospital started hanging tags off their limbs before the entire baby was even out of my wife. The very first bit that emerges gets tagged and each bit that emerges after that, regardless of the order in which they emerge, gets tagged as well...It's truly amazing the things U.S. hospitals go through...

Actually, this practice goes way, way back.
posted by Asparagirl at 10:35 AM on June 2, 2008


(Hey Bonzai - last link in the "Others" section.)
posted by granted at 10:47 AM on June 2, 2008


Double.

Kidding! Great post. If you read Fortean Times on a regular basis, you find that stuff like this happens a lot more often than you'd imagine.
posted by SPrintF at 12:46 PM on June 2, 2008


Awesome links. Thank you!
posted by The ____ of Justice at 2:17 PM on June 2, 2008


As a mother of four, three born at home, one before the midwife arrived, I find it hard to imagine mistaking another's baby for one's own. On the other hand, pregnancy and childbirth so prepare one to welcome a newborn that maybe one could be blinded to that switched baby's (obvious?) otherness.

As an adoptee, married to another adoptee, my feelings and thoughts on subverted/substituted identity run large. And twins are particularly interesting not least for all their experience can show in the nature/nurture debate (which will probably never end). I know my husband is not really my twin, but I have sometimes thought of him as such, another misbegotten givenaway child.

Discovery of deception, however numbingly cruel it can seem at the time, can also be liberating.
They never told me I was adopted!/I have a whole other genetic identity!; They never told me I was a twin!/I have a twin (double)! Or, as in my case, They told me my birth parents were dead! I have a whole other family/families to discover! (And I did.)

My heart goes out to those who experience the shock, seismic shift, whatever you want to call it when the truth comes knocking.
posted by emhutchinson at 6:26 PM on June 2, 2008


You forgot another possible scenario. The father might have kept one twin locked up underground for 24 years, and raised the other in his own home, claiming that his daughter had left the baby on the doorstep whilst on weekend leave from the secret cult complex.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:37 PM on June 2, 2008


as granted's own twin who looks nothing like her, sometimes I wonder....
posted by changeling at 11:18 PM on June 2, 2008


« Older In 1961 Albert Bandura published a study titled "T...  |  page2rss is a simple, effectiv... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments