KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 21 — Have you ever met someone who looked just like you? A doppelganger maybe, or could it be a long-lost twin?
For Samantha Futerman and Anaïs Bordier, two twin sisters separated at birth and later reunited via Facebook, truth is certainly stranger than fiction.
The girls were born in Busan, South Korea, and were later adopted by families from different continents. Samantha grew up in the United States while Anaïs spent her childhood in France. Thanks to the power of social media, the sisters reconnected 26 years later against all odds.
This is their story.
The sisters’ journey to being reunited started when Anaïs saw a YouTube video of Samantha. A friend had sent her a screenshot of the video juxtaposed against her own photograph. Here was another girl who looked almost identical to her!
Anaïs says, “After the first YouTube video I could not yet find Sam’s name, although I was already quite sure we were related at some point. Then I saw her in a trailer, which helped me find her name and date and place of birth via IMDB.
“I was super excited – how often does someone stumble upon a doppelganger born on the same day, same year, from South Korea, and also adopted? It was the most jaw-dropping moment of my life.”
Serendipitously Samantha had made a YouTube called How It Feels to Be Adopted. She says, “I just wanted to repeat the questions I was asked as an adoptee back to those who had asked. I never felt animosity towards them because the truth is they did not know the answer. Also, I never had other adoptees to look up to and laugh with as a kid, so I figured, why not be there for the young adoptees today?”
After watching Samantha’s How It Feels to Be Adopted video, Anaïs became convinced she had to get in touch with this other girl. Reaching out via Facebook, she overcame her trepidation and sent a message to Samantha.
Once Samantha replied, the girls decided to “meet up” via Skype. According to Anaïs, they talked about everything. She says, “We were jumping from one subject to another – anything and everything. It was so strange as we discovered we had eerily similar mannerisms. This made us believe we were twins for real.”
The experience was equally exciting for Samantha. “We talked for three hours! It was super bizarre to look into the screen and see yourself staring back... with a different accent. We talked about how we found each other, how crazy it was, our friends. We even compared our facial features.”
Since that first meeting, the girls have met up face-to-face, first in London and then again in Los Angeles. They even undertook a trip back to their city of birth and attended a conference for adoptees in Korea.
On growing up in New Jersey, Samantha says, “There was lots of amazing pizza! Seriously though, I never felt ostracised as an adoptee or as an Asian child. Everyone was very accepting. If anyone made me feel bad about myself, I had already been seasoned to shake it off by my older brothers. I have always known I was adopted. It was not positive or negative, it just existed.”
Anaïs also had a happy childhood growing up in the suburbs of Paris, although her school was predominantly Caucasian. She says, “Sometimes it was hard to be one of the only Asian kids in the class. Being adopted was never really the main subject with my friends. My parents have always been very open-minded on the subject.”
Both girls’ adoptive parents and families have embraced this unexpected reunion. Samantha says, “They could not be happier. My family loves Anaïs and family! Our parents email almost every single day. Anaïs is always texting my brothers (now her brothers too) and we all get along like peas in a pod.”
Anaïs adds, “It is a bit strange if you think about it. Our families could have not gotten along, but they definitely do, very well, in fact. I can see my parents looking at Samantha like another daughter, with love.”
The girls are now reaching out to other adoptees around the world to share their unique journey. Samantha says, “I want other adoptees (and everyone else) to understand that we as human beings have the strength to overcome any experience, no matter how great or small it may seem. Not everyone has a long lost twin, but my sister and I are exploring the most basic human desires: family, love and connection.”
For Anaïs, the ability to stay open-minded to whatever change in the future helps the process. She says, “I hope all adoptees know how much love is involved with adoption and that they will understand the circumstances that led Korea to put so many children up for adoption. Adoptees don’t have to feel angry, lonely or abandoned. We can enjoy the love and happiness that exist in our families, both adoptive and biological.”
To that end, the girls have collaborated on a book chronicling their journey called Separated @ Birth: A True Love Story of Twin Sisters Reunited. Besides the book, Samantha is also in midst of directing and producing a documentary called Twinsters about their experience.
“The documentary will cover every moment from our first Skype session through meeting in London for the very first time to our first visit back to Korea,” says Samantha. “We had two successful Kickstarter campaigns and will finish the film by the end of this year so it is ready to premiere in 2015.”
The book Separated @ Birth: A True Love Story of Twin Sisters Reunited is out at all good bookstores now. To learn more about the documentary Twinsters, visit www.facebook.com/twinstersmovie.