Sometimes when you meet someone for the first time, you feel an instant kinship. That was the case for two Connecticut coworkers who later learned their sisterhood wasn’t just figurative—it was literal.
Julia Tinetti and Cassandra Madison were both born in the Dominican Republic and later adopted. Each woman had a tattoo of that country’s flag. The pair bonded over the coincidences while customers at the New Haven bar where they both worked teased them about looking and acting so much alike they might as well be sisters.
With similar stories, Tinetti and Madison compared notes on their respective adoptions, but according to the paperwork, they weren’t related. While the news was disappointing, it didn’t impact the relationship. Even when Madison moved to Virginia Beach, the friends remained in close contact.
After relocating south, Madison found herself hankering to find out about her origins. Tinetti, knowing not every story has a fairy tale ending, decided not to disturb the status quo. “Finding my biological family just wasn’t a thing for me. I grew up with a great family, so I just kind of left it to what it was,” she told Good Morning America.
In 2018, Madison’s adoptive mom gifted her with a genetic testing kit for Christmas. From there, Madison was able to locate several distant family members as well as a cousin back in Connecticut who was able to hook her up with her birth family in the Dominican Republic.
Sadly, her biological mom had passed away in 2015, but Madison was thrilled to learn that her father and seven siblings were alive and well and eager to meet her.
In 2019, Madison flew down for a reunion. “We bonded immediately,” she told The Washington Post. “It was like I had known them my whole life.”
The next part of the story sounds like something taken directly from the script of a telenovela.
In December of 2020, Tinetti’s childhood friend Molly Sapadin, who was now a friend of Madison’s as well, made a discovery. It seems Sapadin was also adopted from the Dominican Republic—on the same day as Tinetti. When Sapadin saw the surname “Collado” on Madison’s Facebook posts from the visit she’d made with her biological family it rang a bell.
Sapadin’s adoption papers revealed that she and Madison shared the same birth mother—only they didn’t. The adoption agency had, as subsequent DNA tests proved, accidentally switched Sapadin’s birth record with Tinetti’s.
As it turned out, Tinetti was Madison’s sister—and Sapadin was their cousin. (DNA testing also revealed that Sapadin has a twin sibling she’s yet to connect the dots with.)
When Madison spoke with her biological father, Adriano Luna Collado, he confirmed a second daughter had been put up for adoption when the family was facing dire financial hardship due to illness.
“He [told me], ‘It was just a difficult time for your mom and I. So, I don’t like to talk about it. I don’t like to think about it,’” Madison recounted in her interview with GMA.
Now, both sisters are hoping for a reunion when COVID-19 travel restrictions are eased. In the meantime, they’re getting to know their biological family in the Dominican Republic via video chat.
Thanks to a crazy wrinkle in the cosmos, two devoted friends are now two devoted sisters. But Tinetti, for one, believes in destiny. “Now that I look back on it, this had to happen. We were meant to cross paths like this,” she told the Post, adding with a laugh, “I will forever be her annoying little sister.”
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