After 78 years, twins Elizabeth Hamel and Ann Hunt were reunited in Los Angeles, California. The twins have earned a place in the Guinness Book Of World Records for the longest separation of twins before a reunion. The twins were born from an unwed mother in Aldershot, Hampshire, a town near London. Their single mother, Alice Lamb, was struggling on her own and tried to give both twins up to be adopted after their birth father fled upon finding out his lover was pregnant, according to The Daily News.
Elizabeth knew she had a twin out there, and prayed to be reunited with her for many years. Elizabeth was born with a curvature of the spine and Alice couldn’t find adoptive parents for her because of it. Elizabeth ended up staying with her birth mother and always wondered about her twin sister, even after she moved to America.
Ann, who was adopted, stayed in the city her entire life, but was never told that she had a twin sister. Ann discovered she was adopted when she was 14-years-old from her aunt, according to the Sudan Vision Daily. In a bizarre choice of words, Ann went home and asked her adoptive mother, “Were we adopted, mum?”
Ann’s mom remarked to her adopted daughter, “You and your ‘we’!” Then she told Ann, “No, you were a chosen child. God sent you. Your mother wasn’t able to keep you, so she allowed me to look after you and to adopt you as mine – someone to love.” Ann had no idea at the time why she so often used the word “we” to describe herself. She does not believe that her adoptive mother ever knew that she had a twin.
Ann’s adult daughter Samantha Stacey was tracing her family tree, searching through birth records, trying to learn more about her mother when she discovered Ann’s biological mother’s name. Eventually, Samantha figured out that her mother had a sister who was living in America. Samantha told her mother, “We’ve found your sister but there’s a bonus – she’s your twin sister.”
Ann said, “I had to pinch myself because I realized that I’ve got a sibling, a sister. It’s so wonderful I’m not on my own any more. I’ve got no words to say. I’m so happy – I have Elizabeth.” They located Elizabeth’s address and Ann penned her twin a letter. When Elizabeth received the letter from her twin, she immediately called her. The two talked over the phone for a year before they were finally able to be reunited thanks to the help of the twin expert at California State University’s Twin Studies Center, Dr. Nancy Segal.
Coincidentally, Ann and Elizabeth both married men who were called Jim. Ann married Jim Hunt, and three years later, Elizabeth married Warren Hamel whose mother preferred to call Jim, so he was always called Jim. “I feel like I’ve known Liz all my life now,” Ann says now that the two have met. According to The Orange Count Register, the twins are waiting on DNA tests to confirm their suspicions that they are fraternal twins, like the presume, given that they do not appear identical.
Dr. Segal said that even with different totally cultures the twins, as many sets of twins do, had similar attitudes in religion and politics and similar social behavior. She found the pair fascinating. Dr. Segal does not believe that Ann had any memory of her twin, Elizabeth, when she would refer to herself as “we,” saying that people over romanticize the bonds of twins, but she does find the similarities among twins fascinating. Segal stated, “Where do these things come from? It’s difficult to know exactly, but it seems that their genes linked to intelligence, personality and temperament just lead them to have similar types of world views.” Segal, who funded the twins reunion told The Orange County Register, “These are rare cases packed with human interest and scientific value. This was a very unique opportunity.”
Do you think it would be romanticizing the reunited twins’ bond too much to say that when Ann called herself “we,” deep down, she remembered Elizabeth?
[Photo from BBC video documenting their reunion]