A Korean Aussie adoptee goes back home for the first time. Hilarity ensues?
There’s no shortage of unbelievable true stories that come from adoptee family reunions. As adoptees dig deep into names, places and dates, secrets come tumbling out.
Two of my favourite adoptee reunion stories at the moment are about adoptees finding their long lost identical twins.
Dan Matthews is a rapper and music producer based in Los Angeles. He’s worked with acts like the Far East Movement who produced “Like a G6”, or as I like to call it, “the Asian drinking song”. After performing at the International Korean Adoptee Association Gathering in Seoul last year, Dan decided to search for his birth parents through his adoption agency. One day, an e-mail changed his life. Although he was told that his parents separated when he was born, it turns out they were married and living on Geoje Island. He also found out that he had a younger sister and a twin brother.
Why did the twin brother stay while Dan had to go? Well, Dan and his brother were born prematurely. The twins were sick – but Dan was in worse shape than his brother. His parents, unable to afford healthcare, put him up for adoption in the hope he would be well-cared for.
Dan, being a multimedia-savvy guy, decided to film a documentary about his reunion in Korea and successfully funded his project through Kickstarter. The documentary launched last week and Dan is currently touring the US.
I heard about Dan through one of the G.O.A.L volunteers around when I visited Geoje Island to search for my own parents. Our stories were so similar – a false story about married parents, sickness, secret siblings. It’s surreal to think that we were born on the same obscure Korean island a few years apart and adopted out to completely different countries and lives (though I’m sure I could be a badass rapper if I applied myself). Dan’s sister is the same age as me.
Loads of friends sent me the remarkable story of the Twinsters.
It all started on Facebook. Korean adoptee Anais Bordier, living in London, received a Facebook message from a friend. The message was screenshot comparing Anais with a woman in a YouTube video who looked strikingly similar to her. Curious, Anais searched and eventually identified her doppelganger – an Asian-American actress named Samantha Futerman. Anais noticed a few more eerie similarities: Samantha was also born in South Korea. And they had the exact same birthday.
Anais sent Samantha a message on Facebook and the two started talking on Skype. Their similarities ran deeper – they were both born in Busan, adopted through the same agency, and shared interests and mannerisms. Finally, they met in person, visited each other’s families and even went to Korea together.
The two creative girls, with Anais working in fashion and Samantha in acting, decided to film their story. They’re also running a Kickstarter to fund the production of their film.
Having a twin sister was not mentioned on either of the girls’ adoption files.
Most people grow up knowing where they inherited their nose, eyes and mannerisms from. But adoptees grow up in families that look different to them. When I was a kid and didn’t understand genetics, I very seriously explained to people that I inherited my adoptive mother’s (short) height, her brown hair and love of reading.
A conversation came up on a Facebook Korean adoptee group about whether adoptees are particularly interested in looking for similarities between people. I must admit, I’m always fascinated when I meet my friends’ family members. I’m amazed that brothers and sisters, daughters and fathers, sons and mothers, nieces and uncles, grandsons and grandmothers, can somehow look alike. When two completely different-looking people laugh the same laugh, smile the same smile, have the same mischievous twinkle in their eyes.
So finding a sibling – especially an identical twin – is a surreal experience for an adoptee. I don’t have a twin, but having sisters is a huge, alien concept I’m still getting used to. Hearing Umma say “you’re just like your third sister” was one of the strangest things I’d ever heard, having been an only child in an Anglo-Australian family up until that point.
Meeting someone who shares the parts of your genetic code that make you laugh, move, feel wonder at the same things – despite your links severed by culture and geography – is like magic.
And magic makes for a damn good movie.