Fifty-four-year-old Michele Mordkoff, from New Jersey, was on her way to work when she saw something on her phone that literally floored her.
It was a documentary movie, a true story, about three identical triplet boys, around the same age she was, all of whom had been adopted, separated, and sent to live with three separate families, to lead separate lives.
Like the triplets in the movie, Michele, too, was adopted.
The three boys had no idea that they had, in fact, been part of an unethical scientific study under the direction of late psychologist Dr. Peter Neubauer, where dozens of adopted twins or triplets were separated from each other and placed into different families of varying socioeconomic backgrounds. Then, under the guise of monitoring their emotional development, Neubauer periodically studied them.
The name of the adoption agency that participated in the study was Louise Wise Services—the very same agency that had placed Michele with her own adoptive parents around the same time.
The movie documented the reunion of the triplets after DNA tests had determined that they were, in fact, brothers. Michele’s heart started pounding.
After learning about their story, something compelled Michele to go have her DNA tested also. A short while after, a message popped up on her phone indicating that a match had been found, an “immediate family” member by the initials “A.K.”
After a quick Facebook check, Michele located one Allison Rodnan Kanter from Calabasas, California, who had the same features as Michele, with the same birthday, May 12, 1964. Michele collapsed to the floor.
Not long after, journalist Lisa Belkin, who had initially investigated the illegitimate study done on the triplets, helped Michele get in touch with the film’s maker, Tim Wardle, and they arranged a meetup between the twin sisters at the Kimberly hotel in New York. Wardle’s camera crew would be there to document the occasion.
Michele was nervous at first. When they eventually met in the hotel room, though, it was a “transcendent” experience as the twins compared their same “little girl’s hands,” same arms, and same facial features. “It is a good thing,” Michele told Allison.
“We totally got screwed out of twin popularity,” Michele joked. “I mean, think about it. We would have been ‘the twins.’”
Wardle’s new short film “Two identical strangers,” released in October 2018, featured here, tells their story:
“I’ve been struck by how instinctive, magical, and moving genetic reunions can be,” Wardle told The Atlantic after the film’s release. “[…] there’s something extraordinary and almost transcendent about observing the interaction between two people who have never met before but share the same DNA. It defies rational explanation.”
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