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Identical Twins Reunited in Philly

July 10, 1999 GMT

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ One glance at Thomas Patterson told Steven Tazumi everything he needed to know: This stranger, from whom he’d been separated for nearly a lifetime, had to be his twin brother.

The identical twins, now 40, were reunited Friday night at Philadelphia International Airport amid a crush of friends and relatives.

Born in 1958 in a Japanese orphanage on the island of Kyushu, the two were adopted as babies by different families and raised in the United States.

Patterson lives in Liberal, Kan., in that state’s southwest corner, while Tazumi lives in Harrison Township, N.J., not far from the New Jersey town where he was raised.

Tazumi’s 20-year search for his twin ended last month when he found Patterson’s adoptive father, Claude Patterson, in Liberal, and the two brothers quickly made plans to meet.

At the airport Friday night, Tazumi began laughing loudly when he saw his likeness walking toward him _ and he couldn’t stop.

``I’m so excited, it’s wonderful,″ Patterson said. ``I didn’t realize he looked that much like me.″

Claude Patterson was an Air Force sergeant stationed in Japan in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He and his wife, Fujie Tomita, wanted to adopt both boys, but Thomas’ brother had already been adopted.

While Thomas was growing up in a Christian household in Liberal, where he was the only Japanese-American resident, Steven was growing up as a Buddhist, the adopted son of Tatsuo and Terry Tazumi of Bellmawr, N.J.

Both twins knew about the other. Patterson and his wife, Carla, made several attempts over the years to locate his brother but had no success. They were told the orphanage had been destroyed in a fire and records were lost.

Things changed last week when Claude Patterson received a letter requesting information about a Thomas Patterson of Japanese descent, who was born Nov. 25, 1958. ``His brother is desperately trying to locate him,″ the letter said.

That letter came from Shelley Engel of Huntington Valley, Pa., twin sister of Gail Geonnetti of Voorhees, N.J.

Geonnetti, a fitness-training client of Tazumi, had decided to help Tazumi search for his twin, and enlisted her own twin in the effort. It worked.

Tazumi, a weightlifter, is not the only one in the fitness business. Patterson was a fitness trainer who owned a Liberal gym for 15 years.

Tazumi said he thought the day would never come.

``I’ve been 20 years looking,″ he said. ``The nice thing is we haven’t had a fight in 40 years.″