My Account



by Patricia Irwin Johnston, MS


The Issue

Artificial twinning, false twinning, virtual twinning, and pseudo-twinning are synonymous terms coined to describe the increasingly frequent situation of genetically unrelated children born very close in age (less than eight months apart) to different birthparents being raised as siblings by the same social/legal parent(s). Though this definition can include children of any age, this article is about unrelated healthy infants who are raised as siblings from their very first year of life.

Let me be absolutely clear: This section of Adopting: Sound Choices, Strong Families is directed specifically at prospective parents; I've no intention of scolding families who have already made the choice to adopt two newborns during the same year (and indeed I have some positive advice for them later in this section). Moreover, I am not talking here about families who propose to adopt a toddler or older child whose age happens to match a child already born to or adopted by the family many months before. I'm not speaking to families whose children are close, but are more than nine months apart in chronological age. Nor will we talk about prospective families who want to adopt a close-in-age birth-sibling group, or about interim care givers of special needs babies who decide to adopt their charges. Neither is this section directed at those families who travel abroad to adopt and bring home two close-in-age toddlers or older children at the same time (though I do direct it at families traveling abroad to adopt two unrelated children under the age of nine months).

Not that families like the above don't have issues. They do. But my position against pseudo-twinning focuses narrowly on the unique issues of genetically unrelated healthy infants-babies less than nine months apart in age, who, during the cognitively, physically, and emotionally crucial first year of their lives, become "twins." My goal is to help parents-to-be see that creating families in this way is not in either baby's best interest.

7 "Instant Family? A Case against Artificial Twinning" appeared in articles in Adoptive Families magazine, Pact Press, and Serono Symposia USA's newsletter Insights into Infertility before becoming part of Launching a Baby's Adoption and then this book.


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