At first glance, Jim Lewis and Jim Springer appear to have nothing in common… except for their names, of course. Although they don’t look alike, the Jims are identical twins who were separated when they were just three weeks old. Each baby was adopted by a different family back in 1940 and didn’t see each other again for 39 years. The entire time, they were unknowingly living a mere 40 miles apart from each other.
When Jim Lewis was five years old, he found out he had a twin, but he explained that the notion never really “soaked in” until he was 38. Jim Springer learned about his twin when he was eight, but for some reason, his adoptive parents believed his twin had died. When the twins eventually reunited, they quickly realized they have way more similarities than just their first name.
Imagine discovering you have a long lost twin. Now, imagine meeting him/her and realizing you basically lived the same exact life. This is precisely what happened to Jim Lewis and Jim Springer when they reunited after spending the first 39 years of their lives apart. Even though they were essentially strangers, the similarities between the two were uncanny.
They are identical twins, so it shouldn’t be such a shock that they share some similarities. When they met, the brothers were 6 feet tall, both weighing exactly 180 pounds. However, since they didn’t grow up together, studying this case really gave researchers insight into the ongoing debate of ‘nature vs. nurture.’ Is it genetics that makes a person? Or is it the environment they grew up in?
Okay, so let’s start with names. When the two Jims met, it seemed like a funny coincidence that they were both named Jim. I mean, what are the chances, right? Well, as it turned out, way more important names in their lives were the same. When they were both kids, each Jim had a dog named Toy.
If the dog’s name was Scruffy or something a little more common, we could write it off as a coincidence, but not many people name their dog Toy. It’s pretty interesting to find out that you and your long lost twin had a dog with the same name, but it quickly changed from a fun coincidence to something more shocking.
So, the dog thing was weird, but things were about to get even weirder. Each Jim married a woman named Linda. That seems like a rather odd resemblance, but Linda is a common name, right? You could say that. However, Both Jims divorced their Lindas, and each married someone else.
Believe it or not, both Jims remarried a woman named Betty; this can’t be just a coincidence anymore! How could that even happen? That’s not even the strangest part. One Jim named his first son James Allan, and the other one named his first son James Alan. At this point, the weird part is that they didn’t spell the name exactly the same.
There were other commonalities between the long lost brothers. Each twin went to Pas Grille beach in Florida for family vacations, driving a light-blue Chevrolet. That means they had the same car in the same color. Both Jims drank Miller Lite beer and smoked Salem cigarettes.
They even both held part-time jobs as sheriffs. What are the chances that they choose the same career path? Can nature really overpower nurture? Growing up, both of the boys bit their fingernails and suffered from migraines. Sure, these things seem a little common, and I probably wouldn’t question it if they didn’t give their firstborn child the same name.
Jim Lewis and Jim Springer both liked to leave their wife notes around the house. This is a sweet gesture that doesn’t seem common among men. Both brothers enjoyed woodwork and mathematics; however, they disliked spelling, and it wasn’t their strong suit.
Okay, before you start thinking that this is the same person in two different bodies, I should acknowledge the fact that they are two different people with two separate personalities. Despite being identical twins, they are not carbon copies of each other. They don’t look much alike, and they have some distinct differences that were discovered while they participated in the “Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart.”
Physically, Jim Lewis and Jim Springer don’t look identical. They also choose different hairstyles. One Jim combed his hair straight over his forehead, and the other one sported sideburns and combed it back. One Jim liked to express himself through words and conversation, while the other one was more comfortable writing.
Although both twins were married twice to women of the same name, only one Jim walked down the aisle for a third time (with a woman named Sandy). The parallels between the Jims are certainly eerie, but they aren’t the only similar twins who were raised apart. Tamara and Adriana were also separated at birth but met by pure coincidence.
Twenty years ago, twins were separated at birth in Mexico, and after one of the girls enrolled at University in Long Island, the girls had an unexpected reunion. Tamara Rabi had absolutely no idea that Adriana Scott even existed until the kids in school began confusing her with some other girl.
After the twins were born, they were adopted by two separate families in the United States. The girls coincidently lived in the same region. However, Tamara was raised by Jewish parents on the Upper West Side, while Adriana was raised Catholic in a Long Island suburb. But neither of these girls even knew they had a twin until Tamara moved to Long Island.
People who Tamara never even met claimed to know her, and she was understandably confused. A friend told Tamara that she looks so much like a girl she knows, and they could be sisters. The girl’s name was Adriana, and she was in college near Long Island. Behavioral psychologists also studied this case to help settle the nature versus nurture debate.
The internet was a good way for Tamara and Adriana to connect at first. As they exchanged a few details about their lives, it turned out that they were both adopted and happen to be the exact same height (just over 5’3”). Then, the girls emailed pictures to one another.
As soon as the twins looked at the picture, there was no doubt in their mind that they were sisters. Tamara’s friend Christie explained their shock when they got Adriana’s photo: “The picture came up and our jaws just dropped. We didn’t know what to do.” The twins planned a reunion to finally meet.
While describing their meeting, Adriana said, “I’m just standing there looking at her. It was a shock. I saw me.” Naturally, the girls had some things in common and became friends. They were both dancers and shared verbal traits. Strangely, both of their adoptive fathers passed away from cancer. The uncanny similarities didn’t end there.
Another similarity that helped bond the girls was when they auditioned for a DJ company looking for dancers. The twins were hired at the audition and were given strict instructions to always dance together. However, the discovery made Adriana’s mother, Diane Scott, uncomfortable. She knew her daughter had a twin, but didn’t want to tell her. Apparently, she didn’t know how to track her down.
Diane said the only information she had about her daughter’s twin was that she was either adopted by a rabbi or had the last name, Rabi. When she heard the other girl’s name was Rabi, all Diana could say was, “Oh my gosh, this is it!” Tamara’s mother, Judy Rabi, on the other hand, was skeptical. When she saw the twins together, she said, “It was just incredible. You just blink and say ‘This can’t be real.’”
CBS’s 48 Hours interviewed five sets of identical twins who were separated at birth. Plus, we gathered a few more for you!
Barbara Herbert and Daphne Goodship spent the first 40 years of their lives separated. The pair was nicknamed the “giggle twins” because they laugh and fold their arms the same exact way. Just like the Jim twins, upon meeting, the girls discovered some incredible parallels in their lives.
One of the scariest yet remarkable commonalities was their children’s situation. Barbara and Daphne both unfortunately suffered miscarriages. But then, they both gave birth to a boy, another boy, and then a girl. Considering the twins didn’t grow up together, do you think this was a random thing that happened to both sisters? Or is there a genetic component here?
Tom Patterson and Steve Tazumi are another set of identical twins that had completely different upbringings. Tom was raised by Christian parents who were janitors in rural Kansas, and somehow, he still ended up choosing the same career path as his brother.
Steve was raised completely differently in a Buddhist household in Philadelphia. He was a fitness trainer, and once he discovered he had a twin, one of his clients helped him track him down. When they finally reunited, Steve realized he wasn’t the only gym owner in the family. Tom was also a fitness trainer and owned a gym for 15 years. I always thought your life goals come from external influences, but maybe it is DNA after all.
Just like the other twins we spoke about, Debbie Mehlman and Sharon Poset were separated at birth. The girls were raised in different households with completely different faiths. Still, the twins had a rather unusual habit of crossing their hands when they got excited. It wasn’t just other people that noticed their bizarre commonalities.
The sisters were 45 years old when they finally reunited, and they noticed their similarities real quick. Debbie explained that “when we saw each other, and it was unbelievable how even though we had never seen each other, we had the same hand gestures and expressions and voice. It was amazing.” I wish I have a long lost twin out there that’s looking for me.
The Minnesota study didn’t just use twins; they also included a set of triplets. Bobby Shafran, David Kellman, and Eddy Galland were, of course, raised separately. Still, the three brothers shared resembling personalities. All the boys were described as “intelligent, extraverted and slightly rambunctious,” in the book Entwined Lives.
The first to meet were Bobby and Eddy, who were introduced by one of Eddy’s college friends. When he saw a picture of his brothers in the newspaper, David immediately contacted the pair, and the triplets were finally reunited. It’s so crazy to really see the role that genes play in your personality. It almost seems as though twins who were raised together act more differently.
Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein are another pair of identical twin sisters and wrote a book called Identical Strangers, detailing their unique experience. The girls were separated by an adoption agency in New York. They separated the twins as babies on purpose and followed them to conduct a developmental experiment.
The girls were adopted in 1968 and had no clue they were part of this experiment; in fact, they didn’t even know the other twin existed. It was after 35 long years when Elyse started to research her birth family and discovered that she even had a sister. Both girls studied film in college and discovered more remarkable similarities once they finally met.
In 2006, Anna Kandl and Ella Cuares were adopted from China and grew up in the United States. Although they were raised in different homes, the girls’ adopted parents commented on how similar they are (the families stayed in touch after meeting at the adoption agency). But once they discovered that they were born on the same day at the same time, they suspected that they might be related.
This was easily confirmed by DNA testing; the girls were fraternal twins. Despite living in different states, the families support the sisters’ relationship. They were just 7 when they met. Ella’s mother, Teresa, told Fox Carolina, “It’s a connection we can’t give her. It’s something we can never ever provide, and now we have one.”
A lot of times, separated twins are able to find their siblings and reunite through the wonders of the internet and social media. This means geographic locations are much less relevant when it comes to finding your long lost relative. The twins were born in South Korea; Samantha was adopted by a family in the United States, and Anais was adopted by a family in France.
In 2013, Anais was living in London and randomly came across a YouTube video starring Samantha, who was an actress in Los Angeles. Anais was amazed when she saw how much they looked alike. When she researched Samantha, she found out they had the same birthday and were both adopted. They got in touch, and a documentary was made about their experience called Twinsters. It’s available on Netflix.
Mark and Jerry are another set of twins that didn’t grow up together. They were separated following their birth in 1954 and had no clue they had a twin until meeting thirty-two years later. The brothers were firefighters when they finally reunited in 1985. The way they met was really random. Some of Mark’s colleagues from the firehouse went to a convention where they noticed Jerry.
Interestingly, their same career choice brought them together. Twin study researcher and specialist Dr. Nancy Segal expressed that their similarities were the most surprising she’s seen: “Both were volunteer firefighters, carried big key rings on their belts, which each had big buckles. And they both drank Budweiser beer.”
Ann Hunt and Elizabeth Hamel were separated as babies. Their mom, Alice Lamb, was working as a live-in servant in the United Kingdom when the twins were born in 1936 and planned to put both sisters up for adoption. Sadly, Elizabeth had a cultivated spine, and her mother was told that no one would want to adopt her. So Ann was adopted and never knew about her sister.
Elizabeth stayed with her birth mother and knew she had a twin sister… she just didn’t think there was any chance that she would find her. Ann’s daughter, Samantha, dedicated years of her life investigating her mother’s background, and in 2013, she learned about her sister. The sisters met the following year when they were both 78 years old!