More than a dozen sets of identical multiples from Louise Wise Services were adopted separately, then tracked -- ostensibly for a "child development study" led by Manhattan psychoanalyst Dr. Peter Neubauer -- from the 1960s until as late as 1980.
Perhaps the most famous were identical triplets Eddy Galland of New Hyde Park, Robert Shafran of Scarsdale and David Kellman of Howard Beach. They reunited at the age of 19 when Shafran enrolled at Sullivan County Community College in Loch Sheldrake, N.Y., in 1980 and was greeted so warmly it soon became obvious his new classmates were mistaking him for someone else. That someone was Galland, who had been enrolled there the previous semester.
Once the headlines broke, Kellman, a student at Queens College, contacted the presumed twins, explaining he looked just like them, too.
Tapping into their natural sense of humor, the triplets made the talk-show rounds and even landed bit parts in the movie "Desperately Seeking Susan" and on that television chestnut "Cheers."
But the laugh track went silent in 1995, when Galland committed suicide at his Maplewood, N.J., home.
Shafran, now an attorney in Brooklyn, declined to speak to a reporter, other than to note that, unlike him and his siblings, Schein and Bernstein were not part of the study.
Another Long Island-based reunion of identical multiples took place in 2002, when Mexican-born 21-year-old twins Adriana Scott of Valley Stream and Tamara Rabi of Manhattan met in the parking lot of an East Meadow McDonald's in a meeting orchestrated by mutual friends. The Scotts had wanted to adopt both girls when the couple had arrived in Guadalajara to finalize the adoption of Adriana and learned about the second baby, but ultimately their attempts were unsuccessful, and they never told their daughter about her sister.
Scott grew up Catholic in a suburban house with a white picket fence, while Rabi was raised Jewish on the Upper East Side. Intercollegiate cross-pollination eventually brought them together, after Scott attended Adelphi and Rabi enrolled at Hofstra.
Today, just a month away from turning 25, Rabi is in advertising, and Scott just finished her master's degree in forensic psychology at John Jay .College and works as a post-adoption social worker.
"We've definitely gotten closer, especially in the past few months, now that Adriana is working in the city," says Rabi, noting that they e-mail every day.
As for their lost-and-found .storyline, "Everyone else seemed so much more excited," she says. "We were just kind of like, 'Cool.'"