Meet Carmen And Lupita Andrade, Twins From TLC's 'Conjoined Twins: Inseparable'

Photo: TLC
Who Are The Conjoined Twins From TLC's 'Conjoined Twins: Inseparable'? Meet Carmen and Lupita Andrade
Entertainment And News

TLC just dropped a new documentary about a pair of conjoined twins living in Connecticut. Carmen and Lupita Andrade are Mexican natives who were born conjoined in 2000 and survived despite all expectations to the contrary. The girls couldn't be separated and they have learned to adapt to growing up in a shared body, with two strong personalities.

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The cameras follow the conjoined twins as they navigate high school, drivers tests, medical exams, and the fear that their family will be denied a renewal of the visa that allows them to stay in the United States. Audiences also get to see them pursuing their dream of working in livestock management and starting their first year at community college in a vet tech program. All along the way, they respond with humor and good grace. 

Who are the conjoined twins from TLC's Inseperable: Conjoined Twins? Meet Carmen and Lupita Andrade:

Their mom knew she was having twins.

The twins' mother Norma Solis was in Veracruz, Mexico when she was pregnant with the girls. She knew she was having twins early on but everything changed at around five months into her pregnancy. She went to the doctor for her routine ultrasound and he had life-changing news for her. “He asked me, ‘You come alone?’ And I say yes, is something wrong doctor? And he say, ‘You have twins, but you have conjoined twins,” Solis told reporters.

The news was so shocking that Solis had trouble believing it. She went to several other doctors to get confirmation that her girls were truly conjoined. It was indisputable and she went into their delivery not being sure her children would survive. 

They moved to America for medical treatment.

After the girls were born, the doctors were afraid they would die; they were originally given only three days to live. Solis wasn't even able to see them for the first few days of their lives. In addition to trying to save them, doctors needed to know what organ systems they shared. The girls have separate torsos and arms but their bodies taper into a single set of hips and they have one leg each. Their spines come together near their pelvis. They each have their own heart and lungs but they share a reproductive system, digestive system, liver, and bloodstream. 

Doctors in Mexico determined the twins' bodies are too intertwined to risk a surgical separation. The surgery would have left one or both twins dead or resulted in them spending the rest of their lives in an ICU. Instead of moving forward with that, they applied for a medical visa to come to America to seek treatment and support here. They moved to Connecticut where the girls received physical therapy to learn to walk — they each control one leg so walking was a skill that took them years to master. They also have doctors who help them with ongoing medical issues, such as Lupita's lungs, which are compressed by the curvature in her spine. 

The twins as babies.

They're teenagers now.

TLC's cameras pick up the twins' story as they're 19-year-olds getting ready to graduate from high school. Apart from Carmen and Lupita's physical differences, they are typical teens. They have a group of friends and they attend high school. Carmen is the stronger student and has helped her sister along over time. Lupita took longer to learn to read and even now gets extra time on tests in school. They enjoy music but not always the same song at the same time. "If we are listening to alternative rock," Carmen says. "Maybe I want to listen to Panic! at the Disco or she wants to listen to Fall Out Boy."

They definitely have a typical teenage desire for independence. Their ticket to getting out of the house more often is a drivers license. Their dad has been teaching Carmen to drive for a while. Carmen has the benefit of controlling their girls' right leg, which makes pressing the pedals easier. She can also see over the dashboard more readily so she will be the designated driver. Lupita jokes that if her sister can drive, there's no need for her to learn anyway. 

The teens have their clothes custom-fitted to their shape. Starting from the time they were young, their mother would buy two shirts and have a seamstress sew them into a single garment. Lupita is the fashion conscious one and picks out their outfits day-to-day. Carmen doesn't care as much about clothing but she's the one more likely to apply make-up. 

The girls have their clothes custom-fitted.

They're funny. 

The girls have a great sense of humor and are often cracking jokes with their friends. They have a whole arsenal of snarky responses when people ask them about being conjoined. If someone asks if they're twins, they might respond that they're really just close cousins. They also might say that they were a science experiment that went wrong. But the jokes are how they deal with the stares and strange inquiries. They say they try not to let it bother them. 

What about dating?

Dating and intimacy are things that usually require the kind of privacy that the Andrade twins can never get. Moreover, the lower half of their body is joined in such a way as to make the anatomy of their reproductive tract unique. They each have a uterus but only Carmen has a cervix, which causes them painful issues with their menstrual cycle. Surgery to address the problem isn't a possibility for the twins: doctors don't know what amount of anesthesia is safe for them and both young women would need to be intubated for surgery. Instead, they opted to go on a medication regimen that stop their menstrual cycles. They joked for cameras that at 19 they were basically going through menopause.

If this bothers the girls, they're good at hiding it. When the producer asked about boys, Carmen said she wasn't interested. After some joking around between the sisters, they commented that they aren't interested in girls, either. 

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Immigration status looms over their lives.

Being a conjoined twin is a complicated enough situation but the entire family has the added burden of an unusual immigration status. The family was allowed to come to the United States under a program called deferred action for medical arrivals. They have temporary visas that allow them to live and work in the country while their children get medical treatment that they could not get at home.

They have to reapply for their status every year, which means they face an annual threat of being sent back to Mexico. The girls have lived in Connecticut for as long as they can remember and have no wish to leave the only home they know. Their visa program, as well as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has been under threat since 2016 when the Trump administration started making radical changes to the immigration system. For the moment, the courts have ensured that DACA stays in place and the White House backed off canceling the medical visas

The family would love to apply for permanent status but as we find out in the documentary, there's no path to a green card from a medical visa. Instead, they just have to keep reapplying for their status. 

What's next for the twins?

The girls explained to the cameras that they want to pursue a career in agriculture. After going to a high school with a hands-on agriculture program, they decided they want to be herd managers at a dairy farm. Their affinity for animals is what drives that ambition. 

"[Animals] don't talk," Lupita explained about why she likes working with livestock. "They know what you're feeling because they get [it] off of your vibes."

"[Working with livestock] is more therapeutic than actually talking it out with a counselor or things like that. I guess because they don't speak," Carmen says.   

The Andrade twins are currently enrolled in a vet tech program at a community college but hope to transfer to a four-year school in the future. 

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Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. She is the creator of the blog FeminXer and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.