Finding Your Best Friend in “Separated @ Birth”
The journey of two Korean adoptees who found each other across the world.
I’d heard the story before, way back in 2014, about a Korean adoptee who found her long lost twin through a YouTube video. Sam Futerman, the LA actress and Korean adoptee, was in the old KevJumba video when a continent away, a student in London recognized her face.
Imagine one day opening Facebook and reading a message from a stranger that says, “I think we might be twins…don’t freak out…”
Anais Bordier was living in London, finishing her degree in fashion and design, when one of her friends sends her the link to KevJumba’s video. In it she sees Sam and instantly recognizes her… because she looks just like Anais! That moment sparks the rest of their story, one of the most amazing adoptee stories ever: identical twins separated at birth in South Korea as they’re brought together by a series of coincidences, gut feelings, and lucky chances — or is it all fate? I have no idea, but I can’t recommend this story enough, both the documentary Twinsters and book Separated @ Birth.
What struck me the most about reading the book (versus seeing the film) was how fast the sisters bonded once they realized the other was real. The initial shock of discovery propelled both of them to find out all they could about the other, make contact (which both of them did a great job conveying how simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying that whole process was), and immediately realize how connected they were. Call it twin sense or chalk it up to how alike they both are, it was a genuine and pure friendship that became its own page turner.
Writing the book also gave each sister a chance to better tell and reflect on their side of the story. Writing everything down has more of a reflective, fond recollection feeling to everything versus the raw emotions that documentaries catch. Anais mentions how she’s less comfortable in front of the camera, and her chapters really give her the chance to take her time with her words, feelings, and reactions. Sam’s boisterous and excited energy also come through, almost like a journal, whereas the documentary was definitely more where she expressed herself through of a professional (passion) project. Together both mediums work to tell one incredible whole story.
I would recommend the book and film to anyone because it’s a great look on the adoptee experience. But more importantly I would highly, highly recommend adoptees check out their story. They both talk abut some of the small nuances and experiences that make up our everyday, and it’s nice to hear the little experiences aside from the normal existential-adoption-crises we have on the daily. There’s a lot of books out there for millenial-aged adoptees about the history, the mother’s perspective, or taking the “it’s so sad and melodramatic” angle, which gets old. Separated @ Birth not only acknowledges the hardships, but also celebrates life’s crazy coincidences in a fresh look at adoption.
Also, both of them continue to champion adoptee stories and families, and Sam went on to found the non-profit Kindred: The Foundation for Adoption with actress Jenna Ushkowitz.