Like it or not, our pasts are one of the most important factors in shaping who we are as people. Even as adults, we often find ourselves drawing on memories and past experiences to understand the world around us.
For one man, however, everything he thought he knew about his past turned out to be a total lie. Although one of the greatest surprises of his life came as a result of this revelation, he also discovered a dark secret that would change his life forever…
Howard Burack was born in 1963 in New York City and put up for adoption through Louise Wise Services, considered to be one of the most prestigious adoption agencies in the country.
At 6 months old, Howard was adopted by an upper-middle-class family and raised just north of Manhattan. Though his childhood was a normal one, Howard always felt that there was something missing in his life.
When Howard reached adulthood, he decided it was the right time to learn more about his personal history. And so, Howard contacted Louise Wise Services in the hope of finding his birth mother.
Howard got in touch with the agency, but their records didn’t shed light on the identity of his biological mother. However, as Howard pressed for more information the adoption agent revealed a shocking secret that turned Howard’s life upside down.
According to the agency, Howard was an identical twin! His brother, whose information couldn’t be disclosed by the agency, had been adopted by another family as an infant and the two had been separated.
Stunned at this revelation, Howard immediately began searching for his long-lost sibling. But how would he find a man he knew next to nothing about? As it turns out, Howard wouldn’t be the one doing the finding after all…
In 2000, two years after Howard’s discovery, a former agent of the now-defunct Louise Wise Services on their deathbed made one fateful call that would change everything…
But Howard wasn’t the one who received this call: instead, a man named Doug Rausch was on the other end. Despite the possible repercussions she could face, the agent revealed that he, too, had an identical twin brother. His name? Howard Burack.
Luckily, the agent was able to pass Doug’s information on to Howard, who contacted him without hesitation. After only a few minutes on the phone, the brothers instantly felt as if they’d known each other their whole lives.
The twins resolved to meet at an airport in Columbus, Ohio shortly after that first phone call. Reuniting after almost 40 years apart, Howard and Doug felt their bond almost immediately. But that wasn’t the craziest part.
As the two men compared their lives, they found striking similarities: both men were married in 1992, hated condiments, had kids that played hockey and coached hockey despite never playing it themselves.
Even stranger, their wives were also eerily similar in their interests, careers, and personalities. There were also similarities in both of their pasts that were deeply unsettling….
Throughout their childhoods, both men were visited regularly by strangers, who would film and test their behavior. They also discovered that, despite being adopted around the same time, their adoptive parents were never told that either brother had a twin.
Eventually, they learned that Louise Wise Services had told both families that the boys were part of a follow-up study to see how each child was progressing in their adopted home. This, the brothers would soon discover, was a complete lie.
Cummings Center Blog
In 2017, director Lori Shinseki released her documentary “The Twinning Reaction”, which sought to reunite twins separated by Louise Wise Services as well as expose the true purpose of their study.
According to the documentary, Louise Wise Services purposely separated twins in order to study the effects of their separation. But as Howard and Doug pressed further, they ran into a major problem: the study itself couldn’t be found.
As it turned out, the contents of the study were being kept at Yale University and were sealed until 2066. Unwilling to let the injustices done to them go unanswered for any longer, Howard and Doug hired a lawyer in an attempt to have the results of the study revealed.
Patrick Bouchenard / Flickr
After a hard-fought legal battle, the truth about the trauma Howard and Doug’s suffered as infants came to light. Kept together until they were 6 months old, both twins showed signs of distress and developed motor skill issues after separation. One twin even began to bang his head against the wall until he was two years old.
Howard and Doug were able to compare stories with other multiples separated by Louise Wise Services. They learned that many others involved in the study still lived with severe mental issues, including one of the famed “Three Identical Strangers” triplets Eddy Galland (left), who committed suicide in 1995.
New York Post
Though it’s hard for the two brothers to forget Louise Wise Services, they’re both focused on moving forward. “It would have been awesome growing up together,” Howard mused, “but I believe we were both very lucky and are not looking backward.”
ABC News / YouTube
After all that they’ve been through, it’s remarkable to see Howard and Doug making the best of their situation. What would you do if you discovered you had a long-lost twin?
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