In the 1960s, adoption agencies did not make it a priority to keep siblings together. In fact, it wasn’t until the early 1980s that officials from the state of New York began recommending, but not requiring, that adoption agencies in the state work to place siblings with the same family. The adoption agency that had placed Robert and Eddy with new families in 1961, the Louise Wise Agency of Manhattan, which specialized in adopting the babies born to unwed Jewish women, had a policy in place for the separation of twins and other multiples.
This policy was established upon the recommendation of a child psychiatrist who explained that adoptive children already had a difficult time vying for attention and love from their adoptive parents. Having to compete with a twin or sibling for that attention, he believed, would make it even more challenging and difficult for the adopted child. Years after the fact, the Louise Wise Agency’s chief psychiatric consultant, Viola Bernard, admitted that she was trained to encourage birth mothers to separate their twins or triplets, telling the mothers that the babies would lead happier lives if split apart. She once confessed to reporters, “In those days, we were playing God.”