Social media has once again connected long-lost relatives as a set of identical twins separated at birth have discovered each other again after seeing a YouTube video. Ever since the early days of sites like Friends Reunited, the internet has opened up the hitherto uncharted territory of forgotten, unknown or abandoned relationships. In the case of Anais Bordier and Samantha Futerman, they were separated at birth, adopted, and had never known of each other’s existence. It is like a real-life version of the well-loved movie The Parent Trap.
The identical twin girls were born in South Korea, but adopted out to families in different parts of the world. Samantha grew up in New Jersey, USA and Anais outside Paris, in France. Neither had any idea they were originally a twin, let alone one half of identical twins. The babies were only three months old when they were sent to their new adoptive homes by different foster agencies.
Samantha decided to make and post a YouTube video expressing her feelings about how it feels to be adopted. She is now an LA based actress and had a part in last year’s 21 and Over. Thousands of miles away, Anais Bordier was scrolling through YouTube clips, looking for something to watch and the title caught her eye. After viewing the 3 minute film, Anais was astounded. The girl in it looked so much like her.
Curious, Anais then turned to Samantha’s Facebook page. What she saw on there was even more astonishing. “I was completely blown away,” Anais admitted. Looking at Samantha’s photos was like looking at herself in the mirror, “…except, it wasn’t me.”
Anais took some time to mull this over, then she carefully composed a message. It started, “Hey, my name is Anais, I am French and live in London.” She went on to explain how a couple of months earlier, she had been watching Samantha’s video with a friend and he had thought they looked very similar. As Anias put it, “…like….VERY REALLY SIMILAR.” Anais continued her letter by talking about how she found Samantha’s videos quite hilarious (having stalked her, just A BIT) and that she could not help wondering (as Samantha was adopted), when and where she was born. She signed off “don’t freak out.”
Anais told Samantha her own date and place of birth, which was November 19th, 1987 in Busan. Her official papers documented her birthplace at the Holt Children’s Institute in Seoul and her Korean name had been Kim Eunwha. Nothing on the paperwork suggested she was a twin, but she was following her gut instinct.
When Samantha read this, it was her turn to be in shock. As her sister had done, she went onto Facebook and quickly saw how their looks were identical. “It felt like having a heart attack,” Samantha said, adding it was also the happiest moment as a whole new world began to open up. The pair, now 26 years old, began to message. After five days they had their first ever conversation, via Skype. These identical twins, separated at birth, were beginning to connect at last, all thanks to the YouTube video.
The pair then spent some time getting to know each other through Skype conversations. They really wanted to meet in person, but lacked the funds for such an expensive trip. Once more harnessing the power of modern technology, they turned to Kickstarter and began a campaign. They raised enough to eventually meet each other in London, where Anais works in fashion. They took their respective families with them too and finally met in May of 2013. The Kickstarter campaign is ongoing as the twins would now like to finish off by making a documentary about their unique experience.
They were convinced that they were biological twins, but they had blood tests to prove it. The results of these will be revealed in the film. Samantha and Anais are now as close as twins that were raised together so often are. They have travelled to Korea together, they share their birthday and other holidays, and have discovered their similarities go way beyond how they appear. Both are Harry Potter addicts, and haters of cooked carrots.
They confessed that they had already taken advantage of their extreme similarity to play tricks on their parents, just as the Lindsay Lohan characters do in The Parent Trap.
Samantha’s moving appeal written for the Kickstarter page speaks volumes about the importance of this new-found sisterhood. She said she had “an innate unconditional love towards this stranger.” She noted that the electrical communication they had used in the early stages was “arguably beautiful,” but also offered a “slightly eerie – and slighty French” level of protection.
Strangers no more, Samantha and Anais are now free to explore their twinship in all its depth, all thanks to the various vehicles of the internet that brought them back together.
Identical twins separated at birth and raised in different environments are of great interest to sociologists as they give valuable data about the effects of nature versus nurture in upbringing. Bordier now says she always felt “there was something missing” from her life. There are numerous remarkable stories emanating from studies. The serendipity of similarity sometimes stretches credulity, even for the scientists doing the research. Identical twins are genetic photocopies of one another, but how does that explain giving birth on the same day, as happened to Aimee and Ashlee Nelson of New York last New Year. Their due dates were a week apart.
Like Samantha and Anais, Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein were separated at birth. They did not meet for another 35 years, but in the meantime, they both were editors of the high school paper, studied film at college and went on to become writers. Unbeknownst to them, they had been purposely separated as part of a Yale University study. Their adoptive parents had not been aware of this either. The controversial research remains unpublished, but the twins are convinced that genetics are much more than 50 percent of their basic personalities.
The “twin Jims” are another infamous twin story. Again separated at birth they grew up only 45 miles apart in Ohio. Both were named James and both were married twice. Remarkably, in both cases each was first married to a woman called Linda and then a woman called Betty. Both had a dog called Tony and a son they called James Allen. They had identical medical records and the same hobbies. Both had a wood workshop, liked Chevy’s and took their vacation in Florida. At the same beach. Jim Lewis and Jim Springer, born 1940, finally met up when they were 39 years old and amazed scientists with the closeness of their life histories.
For identical twins separated at birth, to find each other again is a beautiful happenstance. Thanks to Youtube, Samantha and Anais will always now be able to cherish their long-lost sisterhood.
By Kate Henderson