When she had written me, the director of postadoption services at Louise Wise had enclosed a sibling registration form to send in to the New York State Registry, where I had made my initial request. As she provided me with no other feasible lead, I decide to begin there, though I realize that the chance of a reunion is nearly zero unless my twin somehow also knows of my existence. Perhaps, I think, the agency can do no more than hint and they know that my twin, also looking for her birth parents, has registered. My mind is racing. Is it possible that my birth mother kept my twin and only abandoned me? Why were we separated?
As elation is overtaken by confusion, I call my dad in Oklahoma. Though we live thousands of miles apart and have differing ideas, especially about how to handle my nephew, we share a mutual respect. I find it unlikely that he would have known the truth all along without revealing it to me, but I have to be sure.
"Hello?" By chance, I catch him at a rare moment when he is not busy at work.
"Dad, I got a letter from Louise Wise."
Silence. Having offered to help me search for my birth mother when I turned eighteen, Dad knows the significance of this name. I continue. "Are you busy? Are you sitting down?"
"Yeah. What's up?"
"I have a twin." I can picture his clear baby-blue eyes on the other end of the line.
"We have to find her," Dad says, without a pause, as if this conversation had been scripted thirty-five years ago. Though I can tell by his voice that it is a shock to him, I am taken aback by his lack of hesitation. The fragile tenor of his voice speaks volumes. "It's wrong to separate twins."
My father is indignant that Louise Wise hadn't offered both twins to him and my mother. He had trusted the agency, which he held in such high regard. Though Dad was not responsible for separating me from my twin sister, an illogical feeling of guilt weighs upon him. He must realize the magnitude of my dual losses -- the loss of a twin, compounded by the death of my mother when I was so young.
Even if my twin is alive and well, I know in my heart that I need to follow my own life's design. I can't renounce the first thirty-five years of my life to live in a hypothetical tandem. I am reeling in reverie about my twin, but I will try to focus on my own path, which at the moment means preparing for the CAPES, the notoriously difficult French teacher's exam.
My father and I decide to track down my twin and plan a trip to New York, during my spring break, just two months away. It has been a long time since we have been back to New York together.
Copyright © 2007 by Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein. All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Random House, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House Inc., New York.