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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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1989 video brings back strong memories for Gen Xers who came of age in the '80s.

It was the year we saw violence in Tiananmen Square and the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. The year we got Meg Ryan in "When Harry Met Sally" and Michael Keaton in Tim Burton's "Batman." The year "Seinfeld" and "The Simpsons" debuted on TV, with no clue as to how successful they would become. The year that gave us New Kids on the Block and Paula Abdul while Madonna and Janet Jackson were enjoying their heyday.

The jeans were pegged, the shoulders were padded and the hair was feathered and huge. It was 1989—the peak of Gen X youth coming of age.

A viral video of a group of high school students sitting at their desks in 1989—undoubtedly filmed by some geeky kid in the AV club who probably went on to found an internet startup—has gone viral across social media, tapping straight into Gen X's memory banks. For those of us who were in high school at the time, it's like hopping into a time machine.

The show "Stranger Things" has given young folks of today a pretty good glimpse of that era, but if you want to see exactly what the late '80s looked like for real, here it is:

Oh so many mullets. And the Skid Row soundtrack is just the icing on this nostalgia cake. (Hair band power ballads were ubiquitous, kids.)

I swear I went to high school with every person in this video. Like, I couldn't have scripted a more perfect representation of my classmates (which is funny considering that this video came from Paramus High School in New Jersey and I went to high school on the opposite side of the country).

Comments have poured in on Reddit from both Gen Xers who lived through this era and those who have questions.

First, the confirmations:

"Can confirm. I was a freshman that year, and not only did everyone look exactly like this (Metallica shirt included), I also looked like this. 😱😅"

"I graduated in ‘89, and while I didn’t go to this school, I know every person in this room."

"It's like I can virtually smell the AquaNet and WhiteRain hairspray from here...."

"I remember every time you went to the bathroom you were hit with a wall of hairspray and when the wind blew you looked like you had wings."

Then the observations about how differently we responded to cameras back then.

"Also look how uncomfortable our generation was in front of the camera! I mean I still am! To see kids now immediately pose as soon as a phone is pointed at them is insanity to me 🤣"

"Born in 84 and growing up in the late 80’s and 90’s, it’s hard to explain to younger people that video cameras weren’t everywhere and you didn’t count on seeing yourself in what was being filmed. You just smiled and went on with your life."

Which, of course, led to some inevitable "ah the good old days" laments:

"Life was better before the Internet. There, I said it."

"Not a single cell phone to be seen. Oh the freedom."

"It's so nice to be reminded what life was like before cell phones absorbed and isolated social gatherings."

But perhaps the most common response was how old those teens looked.

"Why do they all look like they're in their 30's?"

"Everyone in this video is simultaneously 17 and 49 years old."

"Now we know why they always use 30 y/o actors in high school movies."

As some people pointed out, there is an explanation for why they look old to us. It has more to do with how we interpret the fashion than how old they actually look.

Ah, what a fun little trip down memory lane for those of us who lived it. (Let's just all agree to never bring back those hairstyles, though, k?)