Three Identical Strangers - Nature vs. Nurture

Three Identical Strangers - Nature vs. Nurture

I have an adopted brother and when I tell his story to people, their reaction is sometimes that truth is stranger than fiction. The same goes for the new documentary by Tim Wardle, “Three Identical Strangers.”


In 1980, Robert Shafran arrived at his small college and was confused when people started treating him like they all knew him. The problem was they were calling him “Eddy.” When a friend of Eddy Galland’s finally caught on, he took Robert on a drive and introduced him to an identical twin he never knew he had.


The story of Robert and Eddy made it into the newspapers in New York and David Kellman saw their picture. He looked exactly like them. It turned out they were triplets separated at birth, now meeting each other for the first time. A big news item, they made the circuit of talk shows, letting people know how similar they were, having the same mannerisms, smoking the same brand of cigarettes, and having the same taste in women. They even made a cameo in Madonna’s film, “Desperately Seeking Susan.”


This almost-too-good-to-be-true story deserves to be seen and really showcases what good moviemaking can do for society. Having said that, I don’t want to spoil the film so I’ll only say that things were going great for the triplets until they weren’t. Their adoptive parents had questions about how they came to be separated and the whole issue of nature vs. nurture makes a disturbing appearance. The answers to the parents’ questions take the story to a dark, heartbreaking place.


As a person of faith watching this film, especially with an adopted brother of my own with his own amazing story, I was moved by the love the brothers in each other after so many years apart. One of the central themes of Catholic Social Teaching is the inherent dignity of every human person, created and loved by God. Someone, somewhere in the story of Robert Shafran, Eddy Galland, and David Kellman forgot that. Whenever we have choices before us, always remember that people come first, people – no matter who they are or how different from us they might be – who are loved by God just as much as we are. If we are motivated by always wanting to uphold the dignity of the human person, then our choices and actions will reflect the heart of our loving God.






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