There are two different possibilities when a woman gives birth to twins. The most common type of twin is the fraternal twin, which happens when two eggs are fertilized by different sperm. They are no more genetically alike than any other sibling with the same mother and father in the family. Then there are identical twins. This is a little more rare because in order for a pair of twins to be identical, a single egg needs to have split after being fertilized, which results in two people with the exact same genetic makeup. Being an identical twin is rare considering the splitting of a fertilized egg is more of a fluke than a common occurrence.
When I was young, I saw the movie Big Business which was about two sets of twins who were switched at birth; each being separated from their own identical twin and sent home in the wrong pair. Of course, they weren’t aware of the mix-up until they ran into their own doppelgangers as adults and deduce what must have happened years before. I haven’t watched this movie for many years, however, I do recall thinking it was very funny, if not just a bit unrealistic. Little did I know that the year Big Business was released in 1988, there was something very similar happening in the city of Bogotá, Columbia.
The Velasco Twins – William and Wilber Velasco were born in a very rural and remote village called Santander. They were two of six children who worked on the family sugar cane farm. They were taken out of school when they were 12 years old because the nearest school was a 5 hour walk away. In order to attend school further, their family would have had to pay to let them board near the school which they could not afford, especially since school would also include the added cost of uniforms and losing the labor they would provide on the farm itself.
William Velasco – Unfortunately, this lack of a high school education had a negative impact on William, who while serving in the army with his brother, Wilber, earned a full-ride scholarship to attend petty-officer training which would have elevated his status in the world, but he was ineligible because he didn’t have the equivalence of a high school diploma.
Wilber Velasco – William moved to Bogotá, the largest city in Columbia in 2009 with Wilber following shortly after. William was a hard worker who soon became the manager at a butcher shop. Wilber also worked with William at the shop, as well as their cousin Brian, who had a hand in the fraternal twins discovering what they couldn’t have imagined was going to happen.
The Castro Twins – Carlos and Jorge Castro were born in December 1988 in Bogotá, Columbia. They had an older sister and were raised by their mother who was a housekeeper. The family of four lived in a single bedroom in a house owned by their grandmother. However, they didn’t feel like they were deprived growing up because they lived near good public schools, which enabled them to complete their educations and they were able to cram a TV and a refrigerator into that small room!
Jorge Castro – Jorge worked as an engineer at a company where he designed pipes for oil transport, whereas his fraternal twin Carlos worked at an accounting firm. Both brothers were also taking college courses to continue their education while living together in a 2 bedroom apartment in a middle-class neighborhood.
Carlos Castro – Carlos and Jorge’s mother passed away 4 years earlier due to stomach cancer and the brothers, along with their older sister, were disappointed they weren’t able to provide her with a better life while she was still alive. They were not well to do, but they were able to provide themselves with a better home than that which they had been raised in.
The Initial Realization For Jorge
Because the Castro brothers were not aware of the Velasca brothers and vice versa, they didn’t know such a huge part of their lives was missing. And if not for a coincidence of fate, they still might not know they each had an identical twin that was being raised apart from themselves.
One day, William was working in his butcher shop when his cousin’s girlfriend, Janeth, stops by with a friend to get some ribs for a BBQ they were both attending. Her friend recognizes William as someone she works with and wonders why he would be moonlighting as a butcher, and she also wonders why he was pretending not to know her. She mentions the oddity to her friend who corrects her assumption by telling her it was not Jorge behind the counter, but William whom she was very familiar with.
Several months later Janeth got a new job working at the same company where Jorge Castro was working. She was shocked by the similarity and shows a picture of her co-worker Jorge to her boyfriend’s cousin William. When William sees the picture of this eerily similar stranger he thinks it’s hilarious! However, other than showing the picture to some of his grocery store co-workers and laughing about the coincidence he dismissed the man in the picture as just that, a coincidence.
On September 9, 2014, almost a year after showing William the picture of Jorge, Janeth was still wondering if she should discuss the matter with Jorge and tell him about the man who shares his looks. Jorge was amazed by the likeness of William to himself. However, it wasn’t until he was flipping through William’s Facebook photos and saw a picture of William taking shots with someone who looked identical to his own twin brother that he realized they had more of a connection than just looks.
Jorge told his brother Carlos that he had a twin that evening by opening the subject with “‘‘What would you say if I told you I had an identical twin?’’ which failed to amuse his more serious brother. He followed up with, ‘‘Do you believe in telenovelas?’’ A telenovela is a soap opera. This question only caused Carlos to lose his patience, so Jorge finally stopped beating around the bush and showed his brother the picture of the identical strangers. Carlos’ reaction was slightly different from Jorge’s. He wanted nothing to do with William and Wilber and felt that investigating would only invite trouble. They both knew that Carlos, must have been the switched twin because he did not fit in with their family in looks or personality. When Carlos learned the truth he hugged Jorge while saying, “I want to be your brother”.
William Learns The Truth
The day after Jorge and Carlos discovered they were not fraternal twins, but rather each a part of a set of identical twins, William’s cousin showed up to work with the strange story. William investigated how a switch might have occurred after seeing proof that he was most likely related to the man in the picture. He discovered that, although ‘he’ was born in Santander, he was shortly sent to Bogotá after his birth due to some digestive problems from being born at 28 weeks. The hospital he was sent to happened to be Matron Infantil where Carlos and Jorge were born. The infant from Santander was switched with one of the Castro babies becoming Carlos Castro, fraternal twin to Jorge Castro. And the true Carlos was raised as William Velasco with his fraternal twin Wilber Castro in Santander.
When William confirmed the truth of the matter, what started off as an amusing coincidence swiftly brought him to tears where he exclaimed that he was a, “missing person that no one had known to miss.”
William quickly called Wilber, who was working at another butcher shop and broke the news to his brother by showing him pictures. Wilber caught on immediately and his response in discovering the mix-up was, “I don’t care who they are. You’re my brother. And you’ll be my brother until the day I die.”
Thus the fraternal twins discovered that they actually have identical twins and had the switch not happened William and Carlos would have lived vastly different lives.
Carlos Castro With His Identical Twin Wilber Velasco
Jorge Castro With His Identical Twin William Velasco
Jorge and William, although raised apart are both excited to meet one another, whereas Carlos and Wilbur are more reserved and reluctant to further a relationship with the identical strangers. However, William called on his brother for moral support and the two went together, along with Janeth and their cousin to meet Jorge. The meeting had to be strange. Not only to see someone you hadn’t known existed who looks exactly like you, but to also see their brother that looks identical to your own. It would be impossible to wrap your mind around it.
They eventually all met up at his and Jorge’s apartment where all four were together for the first time.
They visited in the duplex for some time, discussing their upbringing and comparing themselves to their identical twins. They discovered that Carlos and Wilber were the cry-babies. Jorge and William had sweet tempers. Carlos and Wilber were organized and were also known to chase girls. whereas Jorge and William were the strongest. They also found out that both Carlos and Wilber were slower to show their affection. Carlos also noticed that Wilber had a speech impediment, which he too had as a child, but it was corrected with speech therapy.
There were differences between the identical twins as well… Wilber was quicker to laugh and liked small children, whereas Carlos was more cynical. It must have been an amazing night discovering who their missing twin was and seeing how similar they were. It would have been so difficult as well to see what they were missing all their lives. Especially William who discovered his biological mother had passed away before he could meet her. It was especially difficult for William to come to terms with the fact that he would have finished school had he been raised with his biological family instead of on the small sugar cane farm.
These are the biological parents of Carlos Castro and Wilber Valesco in the home where William and Wilber were raised.
Carlos Sitting On The Porch Of His Would Be Childhood Home – Carlos felt like more of an outsider than he had ever felt growing up because his fraternal twin was developing a relationship with his own identical twin and he felt as though he was being left behind. The group agreed to be a part of a study of identical twins that were raised apart, which involved a trip to the Velasco’s home town where Carlos was able to see where he might have grown up had the switch not occurred.
After learning of his identical twin, Jorge honored his fraternal twin, Carlos, by adding his portrait next to one of their mother.
Because Carlos was so down about the growing relationship between Jorge and his identical twin William, Jorge gave him an amazing gift. Jorge had the portrait of Carlos, his brother, tattooed on his chest next to the portrait of their mother. When Carlos saw the tattoo it brought tears to his eyes and he claimed it was the best present anyone had ever given him.
Although Carlos and Wilbur were nervous to include strangers in their lives, it all worked out for the best. The brothers have even been part of a research project studying the effects of raising identical twins in different environments because of their extremely unique situation. It’s amazing that they are able to turn such a life-changing experience into something good.
“All that has happened is that our families have gotten bigger.” ~ Jorge Castro
Their story is something you would think only happened in the movies. It is amazing that they ever found each other. Hopefully they all stay close together as one big happy family. My hope for them is that they don’t look back and think of what might have been, but look forward and concentrate on where their lives can go from here!