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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Having a rough day? Well, look on the bright side: At least you didn't find out that your new wife or husband is your twin, thus making your romance about as incestuous as is incestuously possible. Say that three times fast. I know that's ridiculous, but it also happens to be horrifyingly based on fact.

Yes, two newlyweds in Britain recently discovered that they were fraternal twins separated by adoption.

A person who only knew of their past decided that each one deserved to know about the other's existence. When he went to contact the first, he found out he only needed to make one trip to tell them both. Talk about awful.

What makes this more than shallow sensationalism is that the phenomenon is not unique.

The tale of the lovers' woe and the annulment of their marriage was told by Lord David Alton in a session of England's House of Lords - roughly equivalent to our House of Representatives.

But, he was not interrupting a parliamentary meeting just to say, "Hey guys, how freaky is this?"

The real issue was embryology, specifically adoption rights pertaining to in vitro fertilization.

Lord Alton's provocative point was that if adoption is less regulated - and we do not recognize a person's right to know his origins - this could happen more often.


Tell that to fellow American Gary Klahr. It was not until late in adulthood that he discovered that he was adopted and had a sister. She turned out to be his ex-girlfriend of six months.

"My relationship with my sister is the kind of thing that could have you jumping out the window. But we didn't know. Thank God we didn't get married," Klahr told The Sunday Times of England.

Klahr's story doesn't end there, though.

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Like most guys, he always looked at his best friend like a brother.

It turned out he was unbelievably accurate in that assessment. That's more of a heartwarming Lifetime movie than a tabloid headline, but it still had to be shocking to discover they shared the same parents.

Ultimately, I think there have been enough documented cases of this to warrant its consideration when writing adoption laws. The Times article alone refers to three other cases.

I also hope this might serve as a jolting invitation to think about what the proliferation of in vitro fertilization means ideologically.

I prefer adoption to in vitro, and mandatory full disclosure to all those adopted by their 18th birthday.

Also, as the social construct called a "family" is discarded, I think the eventual consequence will be the need for a genetic test at the beginning of every romance.

For example, Fairfax Cryobank, a Virginia-based sperm bank, actually has a higher-priced selection called the "Fairfax Doctorate."

It is called such because the donors of the sperm hold a Ph.D., medical degree or law degree.

Customizing your teddy bear is one thing, but we're talking about a little human.

Call me old-fashioned, but I like the notion of the man with the sperm and the woman with the egg actually knowing each other.

Still quainter, after combining the two cells, maybe the two people could stay near each other - and the resulting human - even after gestation is complete.

Is that so crazy? As crazy as marrying your twin?

Gerald Liles is a history and religion senior. His column appears on Tuesdays.

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