Love & Family

DNA Shock: My Bestie Was My Bio Sister!

Cassandra and her friend got the shock of their life
  • Growing up in America, Cassandra Madison, 35, always knew she had been adopted from the Dominican Republic.
  • A Christmas present in 2018 led her to finding her long lost family. 
  • Little did she know her best friend was about to become her little sister. 

Here Cassandra tells her story in her own words.

You have two mummies, a tummy mummy and a mummy that raised you,’ my mum Joan smiled.

I was two and it was Mum’s way of telling me that I was adopted.

After two failed rounds of IVF, Mum had adopted me in June 1988 from the Dominican Republic, in the Caribbean, when I was just six weeks old.

Growing up, I was never short on love.

Mum was always so supportive, and encouraged me to search for my biological family when I was ready.

‘They did what they thought was best for you,’ she said, if I ever got upset.

When I was 19 I had the Dominican Republic flag tattooed on my left arm to celebrate my heritage.

Working at a bar in 2013, aged 22, I was chatting to a colleague, Julia, then 21.

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Me as a baby (Credit: Supplied)

‘Are you Dominican?’ she asked, seeing my tatt.

‘I’m adopted from there,’ I replied.

‘Me too!’ Julia smiled, showing me a matching tattoo on her back.

Looking at Julia was like staring into a mirror.

We both had long dark hair, deep brown eyes and boisterous natures.

‘We could totally be sisters,’ I laughed.

Living 15 minutes apart, we started hanging out.

And we weren’t the only ones who’d spotted the similarities between us.

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Julia as a toddler (Credit: Supplied)

‘Are you sure you’re not sisters?’ people would ask.

Maybe we are, I mused.

I knew I’d been born in Jarabacoa, to my biological mum, Juliana Collado.

Pulling out our adoption papers a few weeks later, disappointment set in when Julia’s details didn’t match mine.

But best friends, we dressed alike, spent all our spare time together and even tricked co-workers and customers into believing we were sisters.

When I was 30 in 2018, Mum gave me a DNA test kit for Christmas.

Swirling the swab around the inside of my mouth, I sealed the package and sent it off.

By this time I was married to my wonderful hubby, Aaron, then 33.

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Us with the DNA kit (Credit: Supplied)

The results arrived in January and revealed a cousin named Jerry, who I reached out to.

I know exactly who your parents are, but your mum passed away a few years ago, he wrote.

Incredibly though, my dad, Adriano, then 52, was still alive and desperate to meet me. So too were my seven siblings – my older brother Willy, now 36, and younger siblings Yoelina, 33, Maribel, 29, Lorenzo, 23, Jazmin, 21, Adrian, 18, and Marlin, 16.

Sitting in front of my computer screen just 10 minutes later, I was so nervous to meet my family over video call.

As I didn’t speak a word of Spanish, Aaron’s friend Louis came over to translate.

‘There wasn’t a day that went by that we didn’t think about you,’ Dad stumbled through tears.

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Me and Julia (Credit: Supplied)

He also told me that my beautiful birth mum Juliana had died, aged 46, in 2015 after a heart attack.

I wish I could have met her, I thought.

Desperate to make up for lost time, I booked a plane ticket to the Dominican Republic.

Stepping into the arrivals lounge in March 2019, a crowd of people wearing T-shirts with my face on them roared towards me with open arms.

It was my family!

Back at my dad’s, we laughed, cried and used Google translate to talk.

I felt like I’d known them my entire life.

‘Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I’d see you again,’ Dad sobbed, explaining he and
Juliana had been very poor and wanted a better life for me.

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Me, Dad, my girl Catalina and Julia (Credit: Supplied)

‘You smile just like Mum,’ my siblings gushed.

In fact, we all looked like copies of one another!

One day when I happened to show Dad a picture of me and my bestie Julia, he acted like he’d seen a ghost. ‘She looks exactly like your mother,’ he said, stunned.

In the confusion of getting to know everyone, I didn’t think anything of it.

It was so hard saying goodbye a week on, but we all stayed in contact.

Then out of the blue in December 2020 my phone buzzed with a text from Julia’s childhood friend Molly.

Also adopted from the Dominican Republic, their families had become close friends.

Molly, who I’d met, had noticed I’d been posting pics with my birth family on Facebook.

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Our bio mum Juliana

She’d also recognised my bio mum’s surname, Collado.

According to our adoption records, we both had the same birth mother! However, when Molly did a DNA test we found out we weren’t siblings, but cousins.

The paperwork must’ve been switched, I realised.

Since Molly and Julia had been adopted on the same day, it made me wonder – could Julia be my sister?

Asking Dad, he told me he and Juliana had sadly had to give up another baby girl 17 months after my birth.

Remembering Dad’s reaction to Julia’s photo, I knew exactly what I had to do…

After I ordered a DNA kit for Julia, she humoured me and took the test.

Almost three weeks later, my phone pinged with a message from Julia.

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Our bio dad

You need to call me! it read, and I scrambled to dial her number.

‘Dude, we’re sisters!’ she exclaimed over the phone.

‘I knew it!’ I screamed.

We went to the Dominican Republic together in October 2022 so Julia could meet our birth family.

Seeing her hug our father for the first time was magical.

‘My daughter!’ he sobbed, wrapping her in his arms.

We took my girl Catalina, then one, along too – Dad’s first granddaughter.

After years of searching, I’ve finally found everything I was looking for!

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Our family is finally complete (Credit: Supplied)

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