How We Are Un-Twinning Our Artificial Twins.

Artificial Twinning can be a hot button subject within the adoptive community. Artificial twins or virtual twins are two non-biological siblings who are born within the same year. Most adoption experts caution against this practice, sighting the potential for damage to the individual child’s identity. We had never giving the subject much thought until we adopted our first daughter.

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Our adoption agency was adamantly against artificial twinning or adopting out of birth order. We listened and absorbed that wisdom and agreed that our daughter would always remain the oldest child in our family.

However, just a few years after our daughter was born we were faced with the choice to take in two children who were born within a year of our daughter, one older and one younger. We weighed the risks of artificial twinning with the risks of leaving two children without a home. We knew what we had to do and brought the children into our home as a foster placement. Four years later they were still with us and when they came available for adoption there wasn’t a question in our minds that they were meant to be ours forever.

The same year that they were adopted, we decided it would be best to retain our older daughter who was currently in 1st grade. This magnified the twin relationship that had been kept at bay by the separation of grades. Our daughters had always shared a bedroom but once they were in the same grade, they also joined the same girl-scout troupe and played with the same friends in the neighborhood. They have always loved sharing but as they have grown older the resentment toward being known as “the girls” has grown as well.

This year they are in 8th grade. For a while they were attending the middle school together. One daughter was doing well and loving all the time for social interaction, the other was floundering. While one was talking and laughing each day on the bus ride home, the other was hiding her face in a book and praying for the trip to be over soon. We noticed that not only were they not happy with each other at school they were not friends at home either. Recently they both agreed that it would be better to sleep in the cellar than share a room with each other for one more day. We agreed to separate them. We live in a pretty small house so it took some creative thinking. Finally we converted our loft into a tiny bedroom using curtains. Our daughters were ecstatic. A few days after the move, I heard a commotion coming from upstairs long after I had tucked them in, I angrily went to see what was going on and found both of our daughters in one room giggling and talking. I smiled and walked quietly away.

When our introverted daughter begged to finish the year as a homeschooler we hesitated. “What about your sister?” We worried that they would miss each other or that they would need each other more. They both agreed that they were fine with the decision to do something different. We allowed it and when it came time for theater auditions (something our family has done together for years) our older daughter decided to try out for cheerleading instead. Our younger daughter got a lead in the play and they both began to thrive separately.

This fall our daughters will begin High School. This is the moment I’ve been dreading and anticipating for the past 14 years. This is the beginning of their last four years under this roof and I have been keenly aware of each passing moment. I’m beginning to see who they are going to be. Their character is forming; their gifts and talents are making themselves known each day. My older daughter will attend the local public school and my younger daughter will attend a charter school. They are both so excited about their individual choice.

The other day I ran into a friend and as we chatted for a minute she said, “Two at the high school this year! Are the girls excited?” “Actually Jaala is going to the charter school and Noelle is going to the High school!” I responded. That’s when I realized; they aren’t “the girls” any more. We have begun the process of un-twinning our artificial twins.

Question: Are you an adoptive parent with children close in age? Have you faced this issue? Share your story with us in the comment section. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Angelina Denver

    It is funny we have fraternal 14 year old twin girls in 8th grade that we brought home at two days old. In 7th grade they got their own rooms for the first time ever. In 8th they picked classes that weren’t together too. I think it happens for many twins around this time, as they explore their own identities. Very healthy! Way to go guys!

    • Thanks! So glad it resonated. 🙂

    • Kristin Berry

      I’m so glad to hear of someone else going through this same stage! Good luck with your girls too 🙂 It’s so great that you are allowing them to do this in their own time. I wasn’t so graceful. I just kept crying thinking they would never love each other again!

  • Nicole

    I love this. Three of my kids are very similar in age and people used to refer to them as “the triplets.” However, they have ALWAYS reminded us (quite loudly) of their differences. Due to their obvious disinterest in being “triplets,” it was more simple for us to naturally treat them as individuals (something that I realize now SHOULD have been obvious, but still took us some time).

    • Nicole, we are so glad to hear that the post resonated with you. 🙂

  • Kaitlyn Smith

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I knew about keeping birth order but I had never heard the term artificial twinning. We just welcomed a new foster placement who is one month younger than our youngest so it seems we have twinned them:). They’re both 1 and reunification seems likely, but I’m thankful for your thoughts on this subject in case these two do end up as permanent “twins”
    Also, I love the podcast!

    • Hey Kaitlyn, we are so glad to hear this. You will love this week’s Podcast… 🙂

  • Chip LaRiviere

    hello, I have adopted 5 children. our last two we have had since they were two weeks old and are not biological but are 3 mo apart. they pretty much are twins at this point (5years old). I have already thought about putting them into different first grade classrooms so they can develop into individuals. I just heard a few weeks ago about adopting in birth order. i’m not so sure if i agree with that. In our case, we adopted privately our first daughter at birth. 3 years later, we adopted a sibling group of 2. my son was 2 years older and his bio sister was 2 years younger than my first daughter. they have forged a great relationship and are very close. Thank you for your blog, and i look forward to reading more of it.