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JAMA Letter from Bioethics Alum Revisits Research on Separating Adopted Twins at Birth

Adam M. Kelmenson, an alumnus of the M.S. in Bioethics program, has published a letter to the editor in JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association. The letter, in response to an earlier article on Dr. Peter Neubauer’s ‘A Longitudinal Study of Monozygotic Twins Reared Apart,’ questions the ethics of mid-century adoption practices and critiques the response to ongoing strife of surviving study participants. Neubauer’s work became the center point of several recent films and concerns a controversial project that involved the separation of twins put up for adoption and studied through longitudinal psychological research.  

Co-authored with Ilene Wilets, PhD, Kelmenson’s letter concerns a previous study of the separation practice and the way it had been characterized by the authors of another article. 

"To the Editor Drs Hoffman and Oppenheim discussed Peter Neubauer’s study of twins separated at birth in an Arts and Medicine article reviewing 2 documentaries on the 1960s practice of separating identical twins and triplets put up for adoption as infants.1 Their defense of the controversial research rested on an explanation of mid-century adoption views and research practices. The authors contended that the practice of Louise Wise Services, the now defunct adoption agency that separated identical siblings, was “characteristic of the era’s thinking.” Our research on Neubauer’s study produced evidence to the contrary."

Kelmenson is affiliated with the Department of Bioethics, Chinese University of Hong Kong Faculty of Medicine.


Learn more about the M.S. in Bioethics program.