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Woman Discovers She Has a Twin after Taking a DNA Test Out of Curiosity

Ayesha Muhammad
Feb 08, 2022
10:20 P.M.
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In an emotional reunion 54 years in the making, two sisters embraced each other after one of them took a DNA test and discovered they were twins. They were separated because of a controversial "nature versus nurture" experiment at birth. 

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Imagine spending a significant part of your life not knowing details about yourself, only to stumble upon them later. After discovering that an integral part of your existence was snatched away from you, how would you feel? 

Of course, one would experience indescribable emotions — anger, frustration, betrayal, and even numbness — before making peace with their past. Michele Mordkoff from Wayne, New Jersey, and Allison Kanter from Calabasas, California, underwent something similar.

Fraternal twins Allison Kanter and Michele Mordkoff. | Photo: twitter.com/CNN

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SEPARATED AT BIRTH

Fraternal twin sisters separated at birth reunited over five decades later after one of them saw a shocking documentary that made her curious about her own history. 

Mordkoff and Kanter were only five months old when they were adopted by different families in New York, two days apart, in mid-October 1964. Unbeknownst to the infants and their adoptive families, the girls were, in fact, twins.

It was summer 2018, and Mordkoff sat watching Tim Wardle's hit documentary, "Three Identical Strangers." The film revolved around three identical brothers separated at birth as part of a contentious twin study.

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TAKING THE DNA TEST

Mordkoff had always wondered about her identity, and something struck her when she discovered that the triplets in the documentary were adopted through the same agency as her — Louise Wise Services. 

They couldn't stop comparing their subtle similarities, including their faces, arms, and hands.

After watching the documentary, Mordkoff felt compelled to learn about her lineage and took a DNA test. Then, she learned about her twin sister, Kanter. She also unearthed that her adoption agency had a history of separating siblings. 

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THE SHOCKING RESULTS

A few weeks later, Mordkoff received her Ancestry.com results which said she had an "immediate family member." The match was identified as "AK," and a California man ran the account.

Mordkoff found the man on Facebook and tracked down a page belonging to his mother, Kanter, who looked just like her. The resemblance was uncanny, and Mordkoff was taken aback.

She quickly sent the man a message, which said, "Hi, I'm adopted, and you matched with me, as well as your mom. Please write me back." Mordkoff added that she kept the message straightforward, even though she wanted to say more. 

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54 YEARS IN THE MAKING

Soon afterward, Kanter received a message from her son, who told her about a woman who contacted him and said she and Kanter were related. Then, he asked Kanter to check her birth certificate number. Kanter further recounted:

"I was just shocked. I thought someone had assumed my identity. I didn't know what was happening. Then I read him the numbers - the last four numbers - and he said, 'Mom...she's your twin sister."' 

Like Mordkoff, Kanter was baffled to discover she had a long-lost twin sister. After 54 years, the sisters reunited in New York on August 10, 2018. The Atlantic captured their reunion on camera, featuring teary-eyed moments, tender hugs, and heartfelt conversations. 

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THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS

A month after the release of Wardle's documentary, "Three Identical Strangers," a journalist, Lisa Belkin, contacted him and related Mordkoff and Kanter's story. Resultantly, Wardle reached out with his crew to record the twin sisters' heartwarming reunion.

"She is a stranger to me, but she's also a part of me—I mean, we shared a womb," uttered Mordkoff the moment she saw Kanter for the first time. After seeing his film, Wardle mentioned that Mordkoff and Kanter were the first twin pair to reunite. 

Wardle's documentary told the heart-wrenching story of three 19-year-old boys, David Kellman, Eddy Galland, and Bobby Shafran, separated at birth and adopted by different families. The three of them suffered from long-term mental health issues.

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THE CONTROVERSIAL STUDY

Sadly, Galland committed suicide in 1995. The long-lost brothers discovered their connection after two of them met as students, and the third stepped forward after hearing the story in the media. 

The identical triplets were unknowingly part of an unethical study conducted by Louise Wise Services and designed by the late psychologist Dr. Peter Neubauer. He studied the emotional development of newborn twins placed in families with varying socioeconomic backgrounds.

Many identical twins born between 1960 and 1978 were separated to test the "nature versus nurture" theory. Mordkoff and Kanter were also mistaken as identical twins but were excluded from the study once Neubauer realized their DNAs didn't match.

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TILL WE MEET AGAIN

Mordkoff and Kanter made peace with their past and termed their reunion "magical and unbelievable" despite leading separate lives, unaware of each other's existence. They couldn't stop comparing their subtle similarities, including their faces, arms, and hands.

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In a short time, Kanter and Mordkoff developed a profound sisterly bond. Tragically, Mordkoff died of pancreatic cancer on June 1, 2021. She talked to Kanter on FaceTime eight hours before breathing her last breath. 

Kanter continues to be a loving aunt to her late sister's children. Mordkoff and Kanter showed that time means nothing when hearts are connected. 

 Here's another story that mirrors a similar theme, and it's about a Korean woman adopted in 1975 who discovered something unexpected while looking through old childhood pictures — she had a twin. Find out the complete story here. 

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org.

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