If you’re lucky, you have a friend who has become so close that you think of them as a sibling.
That’s what it was like for Julia and Cassie, who first met while working at a bar about nine years ago. They quickly bonded over their shared Dominican heritage and the fact that they’d both been adopted by families in the states.
A Few Things in Common
It started when Julia noticed the tattoo of a Dominican Republic flag on Cassie’s arm. “Hey, are you from the Dominican Republic?” Julia asked
“Yeah, but I’m adopted,” Cassie said.
“Wait, wait, me too,” Julia said.
Then Julia told her she also had the same Dominican flag tattoo, but it was on her back. So clearly, they had a few things in common.
Beyond all that, the pair also looked a lot alike. They both have dark hair and brown eyes. And as they talked more, they hit it off and became friends. Customers at the bar in New Haven, would sometimes mistake Julia for Cassie or Cassie for Julia. This prompted the women to kid around that they were sisters, and they sometimes dressed alike. At one point, they even bought shirts: “I’m the big sister” was printed on Cassie’s shirt. Julia’s read: “I’m the little sister.”
It was all meant to be a joke, but earlier this year, they learned that it wasn’t a joke after all. Julia and Cassie are not just friends; they are sisters.
“What are the (expletive) odds?” Cassie said.
First They Were Friends
Julia and Cassie learned early this year through 23andMe that they’re full sisters, adopted about a year apart from the same family in the Dominican Republic.
They first shared their stunning story with us at 23andMe and on social media back in February, not long after making the discovery. Since then they’ve been on the Today Show, featured in Good Morning America and on Inside Edition to name a few outlets. Cassie has running updates on her social media channels, and they’re working on making a documentary about their story. We’re sharing it again here on Friendship Day, but the details are interesting enough that we don’t really need a reason.
Julia and Cassie’s story is a little complicated. Like many adoptees, they both wanted to know a little more about where they came from and who their birth parents were. However, during the eight years of their friendship, they did wonder if their joke about being sisters or somehow related might have been rooted in truth. At one point, they looked through their adoption records and saw different cities of origin and different family names. They assumed that meant it wasn’t possible that they were related and left it at that. Of course, it would have been cool if they were related, but that would have been too crazy to have been possible, they thought.
Cassie’s Finds Family
Cassie kept searching, however, and in 2018 after her mom gifted her a 23andMe kit, she opted into DNA Relatives and soon found a cousin in Connecticut. The cousin helped her find her biological family in the Dominican Republic. Soon, she connected with her birth father and her seven siblings. In 2019, Cassie traveled there and met them all in person. It was both overwhelming and joyous. She stayed three weeks. Her father, Adriano, cried a lot and kept telling her how sorry he was about giving her up. Still, Cassie knew that he and her birth mom were trying to give her a better life. Sadly, Cassie’s birth mother had died suddenly of a heart attack just four years before her visit.
Julia watched all this from the sidelines. She was happy for Cassie, but she didn’t have the same urge to jump into a search for her biological family. It felt overwhelming. This is where it gets a little complicated. Julia had another friend, a childhood friend, who’d also been adopted from the Dominican Republic. Her name is Molly. Molly and Julia were adopted on the same day. But last year as Molly was doing her own search she noticed that Julia and her adoption papers appeared to have been mixed up. There were two different last names in the paperwork. One of those was related to Cassie’s birth family. So filling in Cassie about what they found, Cassie turned around and called her birth father in the Dominican Republic.
“Papá did you give up another baby, a little girl?” she asked him.
He told her that he and her birth mother had given up another girl, about a year after Cassie’s birth. They were still struggling, and their older son was very ill, and they worried that they wouldn’t be able to care for her. Cassie wasn’t upset. She was thrilled. She called Julia. Maybe they are related after all.
Could it be?
Then a few days after Christmas, she drove from Virginia to Connecticut to bring a 23andMe kit to Julia and urged her to spit. A few weeks later, when Julia got an email notification that her results were in, she called Cassie, and her friend Molly before opening her results.
“Cassie, I am in fact, your biological sister,” Julia said.
Cassie broke down crying with joy. She shared the news with her birth father, who was equally overwhelmed. And then adding more good fortune came to her.
“Cassie is very pregnant with MY niece,” said Julia.
Julia and Cassie will be heading to the Dominican Republic in March so Julia can meet their entire birth family for the first time.