Why Were These Identical Triplets Separated At Birth?

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Separated at birth and reunited by chance, you’ll be amazed at the true-life story of Robert, Eddy, and David and the many twists and turns that they took while on a quest for answers.

Three Identical Strangers

You can imagine the surprise three identical strangers felt when they realized they were triplets at 19 years old. Upon discovering each other, the trio found themselves amidst secrets, betrayals, lies, and even manipulation.

Strange Behavior

The story kicks off with Robert Shafran, who showed up for school at Sullivan County Community College in 1980 to find many people acting more familiar with him than you would expect from total strangers. Maybe they were all just being friendly, he thought. However, he couldn’t shake the feeling that there was more to the situation than that.

Extremely Popular

Robert was trying to process the over-the-top friendliness of his schoolmates when he noticed that people kept getting his name wrong and calling him Eddy instead of Robert. Again, Robert figured it was a coincidence and thought maybe he just looked like someone else on campus, but he had no idea just how right he was about that.

Getting Very Curious

As Robert went to go meet his roommate in his dorm, he was more and more curious about who the real Eddy was and just how much he must look like Eddy in order for so many people to call him the wrong name. He felt like the situation was quite strange, but had to have a clear explanation. Little did he know that he would soon have a surprising answer to his questions.

Meet The Roommate

When Robert got to his dorm and met his roommate, Michael Domitz, Michael thought that Robert was playing a prank on him. After all, Robert looked just like Michael’s previous roommate, Eddy Galland. Michael explained that he didn’t look a little like Eddy, but exactly like him. Still, Robert thought he was likely exaggerating, but wanted to meet Eddy nonetheless.

Funny Feeling

For two people who just met for the first time to feel like they’re looking in a mirror is a crazy feeling. That’s how Robert felt when he finally met Eddy. Suddenly, Robert understood all of the cases of mistaken identity throughout campus. He found out that Eddy shared the same birthday as him, too, which made him even more curious.

Virtually Identical

As Robert and Eddy got to talking, the similarities only became eerier between the two of them. They realized they were born in the same city, had the same mannerisms and sounded the same as they laughed. They also shared the same walk, facial expressions, and much more. When Robert and Eddy realized they were each adopted, they decided to dig further into the issue.

So Many Questions

Eddy and Robert decided to take a DNA test, but such tests were not quite as quick in those days and they had to wait for what felt like years to get the results back. As they waited, they couldn’t help but wonder aloud about their histories and what might have happened to separate them if they were actually brothers.

But Wait…There’s More!

Sure enough, the DNA test results came back and showed that Robert and Eddy were actually identical twins. However, the real surprise was yet to come. After they published their account in the newspaper, a man named David Kellman said that he looked just like them and shared their birthday, too. Another DNA test was done and it was discovered that David was their triplet!

Upside Down

Now that they knew that they were actually triplets, Robert, Eddy, and David suddenly had even more questions. How had they gone so long without knowing? Why didn’t they know all along? Who were their biological parents? And of course, what were they to do now that they knew?

They’re Everywhere

The triplets’ story was an intriguing one, and they got much more media attention now that everyone knew there were three of them instead of just two. They started to get interviewed by the likes of Tom Brokaw and Phil Donahue. They were featured on news programs and in newspapers. They definitely enjoyed the extra attention – especially from the ladies.

Getting To Know Each Other

Even though the triplets immediately shared a strong bond with one another, they had a lot of catching up to do after 19 years of not being in each others’ lives. “Once we got together, there was a joy that I had never experienced in my life and it lasted a really long time,” Robert said. They were unsurprised to find that they had similar preferences when it came to food, women, drinks, and other things.

No Longer Alone

Robert, Eddy, and David were very happy. They now had the close relationships with each other that they missed out on when they were children. The three shared a friendship that many people could only dream of. However, there continued to be lingering questions about their pasts and why they were split up in the first place.

Livin’ It Up

The triplets were definitely enjoying their time in the spotlight, even with a bit of a mystery looming over their heads. They could be seen on talk shows, in magazines, and even on TV in Madonna’s 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan. They also regularly went to the hottest nightclubs, including Studio 54, and opened a steakhouse together.

A Steakhouse For Brothers

Bobby, David, and Eddy opened Triplet’s Old New York Steak House in the New York City borough of Manhattan. The restaurant was a success right away, whether it was because the food was great or because they wanted to meet the brothers. Either way, customers were flocking to the restaurant and business was going quite well.

Wanting The Truth

Amid all of the excitement and whirlwind of coverage, however, the brothers were still left with many questions about why they were separated. First of all, they found out that there was a fourth brother who unfortunately died at birth. Sadly, that wouldn’t be the only unfortunate thing they would learn during their mission of discovery.

Such Coincidences

Of course, the triplets of this story aren’t the first siblings to be separated at birth. The circumstances that can lead to this happening can include divorces, a death in the family, or other controversies, including hospital mix-ups. In one similar story, Adriana Scott and Tamara Rabi accidentally met after a mutual friend said they looked identical.

Starting From The Beginning

Back to the triplets now. They knew that if they were going to figure out the mystery behind their separation, they’d have to start with their birthplace and adoption agency. They were born at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center and their adoptions were done through Louise Wise Services. In 1980, the boys and their adoptive parents went to the agency.

More Than Meets The Eye

Although Louise Wise Services was founded in 1916 and had a good reputation for years, there were also rumors that they sold off infants from a Staten Island home for unwed mothers that they also ran. Also, it was said that the agency lied to birth and adoptive parents about health information and also withheld information at times.

Not Buying It

When the boys and their adoptive parents confronted Louise Wise Services, the explanation that they got was unsatisfactory. The agency said they liked to split up siblings to avoid rivalries over the affection of adoptive parents. The boys did not buy the explanation and began to suspect that there was much more to the story than what the agency was letting on.

A Surprising Twist

In a twist straight out of the movies, one of the adoptive fathers realized he left his umbrella in the adoption agency and went back in unexpectedly to retrieve it. What he saw was shocking, as he said that the administrators were opening a bottle of champagne as if they had dodged a close call. Now the boys were sure something was up.

What’s Going On?

Robert, Eddy, and David had the same reaction when they heard about the apparent celebration: they wanted to know what the administrators were celebrating. Obviously, something was being hidden from them. They felt that the agency was up to no good and knew much more than what they had been letting on.

Disturbing Details

The triplets learned quickly that their adoptive parents never knew they had brothers. They further learned that during infancy, each of the three boys had shown symptoms of separation anxiety during a child development study. However, this information was also withheld from the boys’ adoptive parents.

Different Strokes

The boys had wildly different backgrounds growing up. In fact, Robert grew up with a father that was a doctor in a wealthy home, while Eddie’s father was a teacher and his home was middle-class. David grew up in a working-class home with a father that was an immigrant store owner known to customers as Bubba.

A Calculated Choice

Many times when twins or triplets are separated, the parents are chosen somewhat randomly, but in this case, the parents were chosen in a calculated manner that made it seem like a pre-determined decision that had some sort of significance. It was pretty clear that nothing at work here was a coincidence.

Experiments

When author and journalist Lawrence Wright got involved, he discovered evidence of a controversial psychological study that would measure whether nature or nurture was most important in shaping an individual. The way the boys were assigned to families of different socioeconomic backgrounds struck him as funny. He realized that the adoption agency was using orphans as test subjects for the study, with five other sets of twins involved.

A Scientific Experiment

Every scientific experiment must have a control and a set of variables. For the boys, there were many similarities: their genes, for starters. They also were all adopted into two-parent families with a sister two years older than them. The different socioeconomic backgrounds would provide the major variable for the sick experiment.

Nature Vs. Nurture

This experiment was set up so that the adoption agency could monitor and track the boys as they continued to develop, charting their growth, maturity, personalities, and other factors. This is generally not done because it is considered inhumane and immoral to split up twins for ongoing experiments in this manner.

Experiments With Kids

This experiment was the brainchild of Dr. Peter Neubauer, a child psychologist and psychoanalyst. Neubauer, who has since died, was a World War II refugee from Austria who later became the director of Manhattan’s Child Development Center. He obviously did not note the irony of a WWII survivor carrying out human experiments with unwilling participants.

What Was The Effect?

It is extremely hard to guess at what kind of effect being separated from their other siblings may have had on Robert, Eddy, and David. However, scientists have stated that twins, triplets, and other identical siblings have an “imprint” of sorts from the womb that can exacerbate separation anxiety issues as they grow apart.

Something Was Missing

David’s adoptive mother, Claire Kellman, said that the revelations started to help her make sense of some memories of David. Claire said that David would always say that he had a brother, and she began referring to him as David’s “imaginary brother.” Once she knew the whole story, of course, it all became crystal clear.

Negative Effects

The type of separation anxiety that Robert, Eddy, and David went through as a sick experiment can lead to many other effects. Some of the negative effects are social isolation, low self-esteem, a poor sense of independence, inability to have healthy relationships, and the development of many mental health conditions.

Triplets Have To Be Together

Triplets and twins are definitely more happy when they’re together. Many times, they will feel separation anxiety after just a few hours apart. You can imagine, then, the pain of growing up separate or even seeing one another as they grew up independently. They couldn’t help but think about the lives they could have lived together.

A Troubled Past

At least one of the twins had a very troubled past. Once the trio started to get some notoriety, it became known that Robert had a troubled past that included a role in a 1980 robbery that ended in the death of an 83-year-old woman. The judge said Robert had a “minimal” role in the crime and allowed him to just be sentenced to community service, however.

The Troubles Continue

Robert wasn’t the only one of the triplets with problems, though. In 1995, Eddie sadly took his own life at his Maplewood, N.J., home. Eddie was only 33 years old and left a wife and daughter behind when he departed. He did not leave any kind of reason behind his decision, but his brothers believe that their separation was a key factor that led to some of his psychological problems.

Bad Excuses

The adoption agency continued to offer really bad excuses as to why the triplets were separated. They even said that they separated siblings to help give more families babies. But once the truth came out about the experiment, the brothers and their adoptive parents demanded that the Jewish Board take responsibility of the actions of the Child Development Center.

Paying For Their Sins

As the truth behind the actions of the Louise Wise adoption agency came out, many people wanted to see them punished for what they did. Who knows how many brothers, sisters, twins, and triplets were affected by their experiments over the years? Most people would say that no experiment is worth ruining the lives of defenseless children.

Time To Speak Out

In 2018, the brothers were the subject of Three Identical Strangers, a documentary about their upbringing and the controversy of their adoptions. Director Tim Wardle’s film tracked the boys from back when Robert first went to college in 1980, raising awareness of the terrible way that the boys and other orphans had been treated.

Do The Right Thing

Even all these years later, David and Robert are lobbying for the Jewish Board to do the right thing and make amends for their wrongdoings. Robert said that after the movie’s release, the board should have reunited any surviving twins and informed twins who have deceased siblings of their identities.

A Sad Tale

One of the most upsetting parts of the story is that the Jewish Board has not even admitted wrongdoing, let alone apologized for what happened. The sad thing is that Robert, Eddy, and David were far from the only ones to be affected by the policies of the adoption center. Many twins and triplets still have not met their siblings.

He Didn’t Care

Psychologist Nancy Segal met with Dr. Peter Neubauer before he passed away and was not happy with the results. “What struck me most was he showed absolutely no remorse for what he had done,” Segal said. “He still felt he had done the right thing.” Segal did say that the experiments showed that separated siblings still end up being quite a bit alike.

The Jewish Board’s Statement

The Jewish Board has said that they had “no role” in twins being separated through the Louise Wise adoption agency. “The Jewish Board does not endorse the study undertaken by Dr. Peter Neubauer, and is appreciative that the film has created an opportunity for a public discourse about it,” the board said, adding that they hoped others would come forward and access their official records.

Still Brothers

Even with the tragic end of Eddy’s life, Robert and David are still very close today. Robert has become a lawyer in adulthood, while David is now an insurance consultant. Robert and David have recently spent much of their time promoting their documentary and raising awareness for siblings that are separated by adoption agencies.

Anais Bordier And Samantha Futerman

As remarkable as the triplets story is, they are one in many likewise cases. Anais Bordier and Samantha Futerman have their own shocking tale of separation and unity. Anais Bordier was a French student studying Fashion in the United Kingdom. While doing so research on youtube, she came across Samantha Futerman, an American girl’s channel. She was immediately taken back by how much they looked alike. It was more than just a similar, the two were identical.

The Reunion

What was even more strange was that the two shared a birthday and were born in the same place. Through Facebook, Anais reached out to her twin. They chatted back and forth for awhile before finally deciding to meet in person. After meeting, two decided to take a DNA test and the results determined that they were identical twin sisters. They even got a documentary named after them called Twinsters.

Jack Yufe And Oskar Stohr

It was a nasty divorce that saw Jack Yufe and Oskar Stohr separated at birth and sent away to live two very different lives. Jack was brought up Jewish in Trinidad, while Oskar was living a very different life in Germany. He was brought up during the heights of WW2 and was a Nazi. They met when they were both 21-years-old and were blown away.

The Similarities

These remarkable twins became subject to an endless amount of studies. They were the first set of identical twins to be studied at the Minnesota Twin Family Study. The difference in an environment that they were raised in was a huge reason why people were so intrigued. When they met at 21, they both had the same jackets on, the same hairline and both sneezed in a loud manner. They also both flushed the toilet before using the restroom.

Jim Springer And Jim Lewis

They grew up worlds apart but somehow they were both named Jim. There was Jim Springer and Jim Lewis. They were both well aware that they had identical siblings. Springer was told at a very young age that his identical twin died at birth. Lewis, on the other hand, was well aware of a separated twin out there, but he had absolutely no desire to meet this individual.

Two Mind But One Life

While they didn’t know each other, they lived very similar lives. Lewis found this out when he had a change of heart and decided to embark on a journey to find his identical twin.  Imagine how strange it would be to get a knock on the door and see someone who looked identical to you on the other side. This is exactly what Springer felt when he opened his door to Lewis one day.

The Shocking Reveal

Once they talked, they found that the similarities between the two of them were crazy. For instance, they both had a pet dog named Toy. Even creepier is perhaps that they were both married twice to women who shared the same names. They ever drove the same kind of cars and chain smoked the same cigarettes. The biggest difference between them is that one of them is a city guy while the other loves the country.

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