Two half-sisters have been reunited after spending five decades apart.
Despite growing up just minutes away from one another, Diane, 57, and Mary, 55, had no idea of each other’s existence as they were adopted young to separate families.
Originally from Michigan, USA, the girls lost their birth mother to breast cancer and have spent a lifetime searching for a family connection
The state of Michigan has sealed adoption records, so Diane only had her biological mother’s name to go by to try and find her family. The search began when she was helping her husband, who is also an adoptee, to find his biological father.
Diane, who now lives in Devon, took a DNA test revealing she had family in Paragould, Arkansas, and made a connection with her half-sister Mary. She travelled to meet Mary for the first time this week, in North Carolina.
How did they initially meet?
Diane completed a DNA test from MyHeritage DNA as a Christmas present, and when the results came back she received a very high connection for a person that later appeared to be one of Mary’s cousins.
Excited by the prospect of finding her biological family, she sent a message via the online platform explaining she was looking for her family after not knowing her birth mother.
Shortly after, Diane received a message from the cousin and from Mary informing her she might be her half-sister.
The two organised a video call where they met for the first time and felt like they “had known each other for their entire lives.”
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the two siblings could not meet in person for three years, but were reunited in North Carolina in June.
What is MyHeritage?
Just like Diane, Mary had been searching for biological family members her whole life and was eager and excited to meet her half-sister, after her cousin reached out.
The 55-year-old ordered a MyHeritage DNA kit to double check the relationship between the two adopted sisters, following their initial video call, for it to confirm they were half-sisters.
MyHeritage is a global platform for exploring family history with 18 billion online records.
Founded in 2003, the online genealogy site and app allows people to build and find family trees, upload and search through photos while tracing their lineage. In addition, MyHeritage DNA is one of the world’s largest consumer DNA databases, and the most popular DNA test and family history service in Europe.
What did the sisters say after the reunion?
This week Diane travelled 5,000 miles to North Carolina for the long-anticipated reunion.
She said: “I should have been more nervous, but I was too excited to be nervous; and when we talked on the first video call, we talked for ages - I think it was about three hours.
“I expected not to find a match. When I found out that my mother passed away, it was really hard for me, but then I met Mary and I feel like I have everything.
“Mary looks like our Mum, and I just feel like my Mum lives through her, but I would have given everything just to have her here.”
Mary said that she was “so shocked yet sure” about their relationship when they met initially over the phone, before meeting at the Charlotte airport, for the first time.
“When Diane and I met over video chat for the first time, I just took one look at her and it took the breath right out of my lungs. I was so sure just by looking at her, because I saw so many of our family members in that face looking back at me,” Mary said.
“I think the most exciting moment in all of this, has just been putting my hands on my sister’s face, and giving her a big hug and a kiss. In that moment I felt a joy unleashed.
“We have a sense of each other that is so deep, it’s this sisterly connection that I have heard people talk about was never able to experience myself, so that has been amazing because from the moment we met, we sense each other’s emotions - from thousands of miles apart as well as in the same space.”