Here at Upworthy we love to bring you feel-good stories, and this one was just too good to keep to ourselves. Imagine growing up your entire life not realizing you had a sister out there. That’s exactly what happened to Diane Ward and Mary McLaughlin. The women were born three years apart and were adopted, but neither knew the other existed until submitting a DNA test through MyHeritage. It took them 56 years to learn of one another.
McLaughlin and Ward grew up visiting their adoptive relatives in each other’s respective city and never knew. McLaughlin lived in Detroit, Michigan, and would visit relatives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Ward lived in Pittsburgh and would visit relatives in Detroit. It was as if fate was itching to make them bump into each other. And it gets weirder. For a time, both sisters lived in Michigan as children and, strangely enough, they actually lived only a few blocks apart.
McLaughlin grew up with their biological mother off and on but, after being left with the babysitter when their mother didn’t return, the babysitter and her husband became her legal guardians. McLaughlin’s mother became a “peripheral figure” according to People. McLaughlin told the Mirror that she was never officially adopted as her mother refused to relinquish rights. Sadly their mother passed away from breast cancer when McLaughlin was 26, well before the two sisters were reunited through DNA.
Ward told People, “We were basically just crossing back and forth most of our childhood.” Evidently the pair even went to the same bakery, yet never met. Ward continued “It’s just weird. Creepy weird. Because we were just in the same circle the whole time.”
At-home DNA tests, which have become popular over recent years, have been known to dig up family secrets, confirm suspicions or, if your family is a little less scandalous, tell you where you originate from. You spit in a tube, then you wait. Eventually you get an email telling you your ancestry results with normally nothing more exciting than finding out that Grandma Gina lied and you aren’t Italian after all. Only a few DNA testers are like McLaughlin and Ward, finding long lost siblings or birth parents.
With the pair having been constantly in and around each other’s orbits, McLaughlin pondered the thought to People, “Maybe we did see each other. Maybe we were even sitting at the same ice cream stand. Who knows?”
After discovering the other existed, the sisters were finally able to meet up a few months later to see each other face to face. Ward was aware of her adoption from the start and used MyHeritage for the DNA testing to learn more about her ethnic heritage and possibly find her birth parents. It never dawned on her that she could have a sibling. According to the Mirror, Ward is the one that initiated the reunion after getting a familial match with a maternal cousin who pointed her in the direction of McLaughlin, who then took a DNA test.
In June, Ward and her husband flew to Charlotte, North Carolina, from the U.K. to meet McLaughlin and her family for the first time. The sisters enjoyed a vacation at Nags Head Beach in North Carolina. It’s amazing that these two were able to meet after so many near misses. Now then can start making new memories together.