Last year, we shared the wonderful story of Diane Ward and Mary McLaughlin — half-sisters who found each other thanks to a MyHeritage DNA test. The sisters were eager to meet each other in person, but were unable to for several years due to pandemic-related travel restrictions. So they stayed in touch across the Atlantic and waited for the opportunity to arise.
That moment finally came in June: Diane flew to North Carolina to spend the weekend with her sister. Watch their beautiful reunion below:
Diane was adopted as a baby in the state of Michigan, where adoption records were sealed, so DNA was her only option for discovering her birth family. A few years ago, she decided to buy a MyHeritage DNA kit, and immediately received a close match — a cousin who led her to Mary. Mary had also been adopted when she was young, but she had known the sisters’ birth mother, who unfortunately passed away 20 years ago.
Where am I from?
“When my birth mother gave birth to me, the next-door neighbor agreed to babysit me,” says Mary. “One day [my birth mother] just did not come home from work. Because it was the 60s, it was much easier to say, ‘Are you willing to take care of this child?’ And they did.”
“When I got older, I did start wondering where I came from,” says Diane. She recalls being in school, in science class, where students were paired up and given projects to explore their family history and their roots, and Diane would have to raise her hand and say, “I’m adopted. I can’t do this assignment.”
Mary also describes wondering more about her roots. “When I hit about age 14, I realized that I had an identity crisis,” she says. She describes taking out the phone book and just calling up people who shared her last name. “I always had the same pitch when I called: ‘Hello, my name is Mary, I’m just looking for health information. I’m not looking to disrupt a life.’”
Diane tried to find more information about her biological family through the adoption agency that her parents had used, but the records were sealed. She tried to approach the court, but it was such a long, drawn-out process that she gave up — it was too much hassle.
MyHeritage DNA: a game-changer
Then, she came across MyHeritage and found that it was possible to find DNA Matches through the site.
“So I thought, well, that’s a game changer,” she says.
Diane took the test and sent off her samples — and very shortly received the results, which indicated that she had a close match. That match was Mary’s third maternal cousin, who connected between the sisters.
“It was absolutely a joy-filled moment,” says Mary.
“When we talked on the first video call, we talked for ages and ages and ages,” recalls Diane.
“I just took one look at her, and it took the breath right out of my lungs, I was so shocked,” Mary remembers. “So many of our family members in that face looking back at me.”
That sisterly connection
Both sisters agree that the similarities between them are uncanny.
“The similarities are so many, I don’t even know if we can quantify them,” says Mary. “Our personality traits are ridiculously similar. We have very weird senses of humor.”
“Like, when we showed up at the airport, I had all my flight information in a folder,” says Diane, “and her husband started laughing because Mary is just very organized like that.”
Beyond the similarities, the sisters feel a very strong connection to each other.
“It’s this sisterly connection that I’ve heard people talk about, but I was never able to experience myself,” says Mary. “We sense each other’s emotions from thousands of miles apart. We’re like peanut butter and jelly.”
“It just makes you feel like you know where you belong,” says Diane.
Diane was very sad to learn that her mother had died before she had a chance to meet her — but she sees her sister Mary as a way to connect with her spirit. “I feel that my mother lives through her,” she says.
“Our birth mother, until she passed, she was always in my life,” says Mary. “So finding Diane in the middle of all of this has just been such a blessing in the storms of life.”
“We’re like peanut butter and jelly,” Mary adds. “We’ll be eternally grateful to MyHeritage for that.”
Do you have a story about a discovery you made through MyHeritage that changed your life? We want to hear about it! Send it to us through this form or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Source: My Heritage