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Love Stories

Sisters lived minutes apart never knowing the other existed, and finally meet after 56 years

The universe was just itching for them to bump into each other!

reunion; DNA test; sisters reunited
Courtesy of MyHeritage

Sisters meet after 56 years apart.

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.

Mary McLaughlin in kindergarten.

MyHeritage

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.”

Diane Ward at 2 years old.

MyHeritage

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?”

Diane Ward and Mary McLaughlin.

MyHeritage

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.

Mary McLaughlin and Diane Ward.

MyHeritage

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.

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See how the people of Yakutia, Siberia take showers, do laundry, go to school and more in minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit.

A man in the Yakutia region of Siberia takes an ice bath in minus 50 degrees Celsius.

For most of us, waking up to a temperature of minus 50 degrees would spell catastrophe. Normal life would come to a screeching halt, we'd be scrambling to deal with frozen pipes and power outages, school and work would be canceled and weather warnings would tell us not to venture outside due to frostbite risk.

But in the Yakutia region of Siberia, that's just an average winter day where life goes on as usual.

When you live in the coldest inhabited area on Earth, your entire life is arranged around dealing with ridiculously cold temperatures. Villages don't have running water because freezing pipes wouldn't allow for water treatment. Kids go to school unless the temp drops below minus 55 degrees Celsius (which is then considered dangerous). Showering involves spending hours stoking a fire in the bathhouse to create a steamy, warm room.

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Check out this video detailing a day in the life of a family in a Yakutia village.

Can you imagine going out to use an outhouse in minus 40 degrees? Oof.

Another of Kiun's videos goes into more detail about how people shower and do laundry in the region. You might assume they wouldn't line-dry their laundry outdoors, but they do.

Watch:

What do people wear to protect themselves from the negative temperatures? Frostbite is a real risk, so it's important to have the right kinds of clothing and outdoor gear to stay safe and relatively comfortable.

Kiun shared some frigid fashion norms from Yakutsk, which include traditional fur hats and boots as well as lots of layers and down jackets.

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