Thanks To a DNA Test, These Two Women Discovered They Have More In Common Than Just Their Workplace

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When Julia and Cassandra started working together at the same bar in Connecticut, they couldn’t help but notice some striking similarities. Even customers and coworkers would comment on how much they looked alike.

For years, the pair just considered themselves best friends. Then they took a DNA test and their mysterious histories began to unfold.

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A Chance Meeting

Of all the eateries that someone could work at, Julia Tinetti and Cassandra Madison fatefully worked at the exact same one. The ladies both landed a job at the Russian Lady Bar in New Haven, Connecticut.

Two women work at an eatery.

Initially, they didn’t think anything of it. After all, how often does a coworker turn out to hold the key to your family history? Even after noticing some similarities, years would go by before the women took the coincidences seriously.

The Same Tattoo

Julia and Cassandra may have never bonded if it weren’t for one huge similarity they one day realized they had. Cassandra was hard at work when she quickly walked past Julia.

Three people have matching tattoos on their forearms.
Carlos Chiossone / Barcroft Media via Getty Images
Carlos Chiossone / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

When Julia looked up, she noticed a tattoo on Cassandra’s left arm that caught her eye. Unbelievably, Julia has the exact same tattoo on her back! Even more amazing is what the tattoo was of. It wasn’t a generic design that many people would likely have.

Both From The Dominican Republic

The tattoo that caught Julia’s eye was of the Dominican Republic flag. Typically, when someone gets a tattoo of a flag it’s because they are from that country or have some significant attachment to it.

Women hold a Dominican Republic flag at the Miami Book Fair International parade.
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

This was the case for Julia, who recognized it immediately as the same exact tattoo she’d gotten to mark the place where she’s from. Even though Cassandra was busy as she rushed past, Julia had to bring it up to her.

Both Were Adopted

As Cassandra rushed by, Julia asked if she was from the Dominican Republic, something she had deduced from her tattoo. Cassandra replied that she was, thinking nothing of it.

Mother and daughter lay in the grass smiling at one another.
Bence Halmosi/Unsplash
Bence Halmosi/Unsplash

She even added that she was adopted, insinuating that she had been raised in the states. This took Julia even more by surprise because she also was adopted! When Julia had a chance to get a word in edgewise, she revealed to Cassandra their unlikely similarities.

Bonding Over Their Childhoods

Julia and Cassandra started bonding over all the things they had in common regarding how they grew up. Both could relate to not only being adopted but also being from the same foreign country.

Two women talking while sitting on a windowsill.

To top it off, they both were raised by single moms! As the pair started hitting it off, it became clear that a friendship was started to blossom. They could relate to things few others could, which gave them plenty to talk about.

Instant Best Friends

Cassandra told News 8, “There was no like ‘she’s alright,’ like no we hit it off and it was like dadadada like it was non stop.” Some of us have been lucky enough to meet a friend like that, who you click with right away.

Two friends pose on the beach together.
Omar Lopez/Unsplash
Omar Lopez/Unsplash

While their similarities could keep them talking for some time, ultimately it was a deeper connection that kept Cassandra and Julia friends for years. Cassandra told Good Morning America that their bond was “very natural.”

They Even Started Dressing Alike

Cassandra and Julia already look noticeably similar to the point that coworkers mentioned it, but then they started dressing alike! Julia said on TikTok that the two “started twinning” by wearing the same clothes.

Two women wear matching outfits.
Bùi Thanh Tâm/Unsplash
Bùi Thanh Tâm/Unsplash

The ladies also started spending more time together, going out to dinner or to grab a drink and chat. They grew so close that they got matching shirts that read “I’m the big sister/ I’m the little sister.” As it turns out, they were also only a year apart in age.

The Adoption Paperwork Said They Weren’t Related

Being that Cassandra and Julia look alike, are from the same country, and were both adopted, it naturally crossed their minds that they could be related. There was just one problem.

Two women discuss documents.
Gabrielle Henderson/Unsplash
Gabrielle Henderson/Unsplash

When the ladies compared adoption papers, the information didn’t match. The documents indicated that both women had different last names, different mothers, and were from different cities. Cassandra and Julia shrugged off the possibility and believed instead that they were just meant to be great friends.

Cassandra Moved Away

After two years of working together and being close friends, Cassandra decided to move from New Haven, Connecticut to Virginia Beach, Virginia. Though she was moving about 400 miles south, the two decided to remain in touch.

A woman looks out a plane window.
Ethan Sykes/Unsplash
Ethan Sykes/Unsplash

Plus, that distance is only about an hour plane ride or an 8-hour drive. In the meantime, the women had social media and cellphones to stay connected and to swap updates on one another’s life. They kept in touch this way for years.

Cassandra Was Determined To Find Her Biological Family

Cassandra told Good Morning America that she was “going to die trying” to find her biological family. Her desire to put together the puzzle pieces had been strong for some time, which is why Cassandra’s mom gifted her a 23andMe DNA genetic testing kit for Christmas.

A woman works on her laptop.
Fabian Strauch/picture alliance via Getty Images
Fabian Strauch/picture alliance via Getty Images

It had been five years since Cassandra and Julia first met, and the test had nothing to do with determining their relationship. As far as they knew, they’d already ruled out any possibility of being related.

Connecting To Relatives

Cassandra knew that the 23andMe test would help her learn about her genetic background, but she didn’t realize it could also connect her to relatives. The way it works is that the system compares the DNA of each 23andMe member to find matches.

A person holds a 23andMe DNA testing kit.
Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg via Getty Images

This is how Cassandra was able to see various blood relatives who were also in the system’s database. One of these relatives was Cassandra’s first cousin, with who she was able to get in touch.

Meeting Her Father

When Cassandra got in touch with her cousin, she was able to bring up the subject of her biological parents. The cousin put Cassandra in contact with her biological father, Adriano Luna Collado.

He still lived in the Dominican Republic, so Cassandra traveled to her country of origin to meet him in person. She was also able to meet her seven siblings! The one person Cassandra couldn’t see was her biological mother, who had passed three years prior.

A Mystery Sister

Getting to meet Adriano enabled Cassandra to ask him lifelong questions she may have never had answered otherwise. He explained that one of her brothers was severely sick at the time Cassandra was born.

They didn’t have the means to provide for another child, so they put Cassandra up for adoption. That’s when Cassandra asked her father if there had been another sister put up for adoption. He confirmed that 17-months-later, they had another girl who they had to give up.

Julia’s Childhood Friend Held Some Answers

Now that Cassandra knew she had a mystery sister, she was more determined than ever to find out who it was. As fate would have it, Julia’s childhood friend, Molly Sapadin, was also adopted!

Two friends drink coffee.

Molly and Julia’s adoptive moms were good friends, so the girls grew up together. Molly and Cassandra decided to compare adoption papers, which revealed that they had the same last name and the same mother! As a result, Molly decided to take a 23andMe test, too.

Molly And Cassandra Were Cousins!

When Molly took the 23andMe test, the results weren’t as expected. Since Cassandra was already in the database, both of their DNA samples could be compared and analyzed.

Gracini Studios/Pixabay
Gracini Studios/Pixabay

Though the ladies matched, it wasn’t as sisters. The system revealed that Molly and Cassandra were actually third cousins! While it was wonderful to see they were related, it left more questions regarding Cassandra’s younger sister. It was then that Molly put the pieces together to come up with a possible explanation.

An Adoption Paper Mix-up

Cassandra was born in 1988, Julia in 1989, and Molly in 1990. All three were adopted from the Dominican Republic early in life and raised in the United States.

Two women look at a computer.

Since Molly’s paperwork falsely indicated that she was Cassandra’s sister, she started to wonder if there had been a mixup between her and Julia. Even more convincing was that Julia and Molly were adopted on the same day within close proximity of one another! The only way to know for sure was for Julia to take the test.

Julia Was Indifferent About The Whole Thing

While Cassandra was very adamant about solving this mystery, Julia felt differently about it. She told Good Morning America, “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.”

Even though Julia was indifferent about the situation, Cassandra was eager to see her test results. She was so eager, in fact, that she drove all the way back to Connecticut to have Julia take a 23andMe test.

Julia’s 23andMe Results

After being pushed by her best friend, Julia went through with the 23andMe test. When the results came in, she could hardly believe her eyes. She and Cassandra had a 57% DNA match!

Julia and I met in 2013 working at Russian Lady in New Haven, CT. Julia notices the Dominican flag on my arm and makes a…

Posted by Cassandra Raquel Madison on Thursday, January 28, 2021

Two close relatives popped up on Julia’s 23andMe account, and one of them was Cassandra, who was listed as her sister! All this time, everyone’s hunch about them being sisters was spot on. Some document errors had left them in the dark for years, but now they knew.

A GoFundMe Account For Julia

Though Julia was initially reluctant to meet her biological family, finding out that her best friend was her sister changed things. Julia and Cassandra ended up doing a three-way video call with their dad and all three couldn’t stop smiling.

Someone puts cash in a piggy bank.
Horst Koenemund/Pixabay
Horst Koenemund/Pixabay

While Cassandra got to fly to the Dominican Republic, Julia didn’t have the means to make such an expensive trip. That’s why Cassandra created a GoFundMe account to raise money for them both to fly there and spend time with biological relatives.

Helping Others Who Have Been Adopted

Cassandra and Julia shared their unlikely story on TikTok, which garnered a ton of attention. Before long, media outlets were spreading their story around the country. Julia even started a clothing line, Adoption Movement, based on their story.

The entrepreneur told Good Morning America, “People who were adopted are now reaching out to us, which is really special. That to me, [means] more than anything.” To top it off, Julia’s childhood friend, Molly, was able to connect with her biological twin!

Karyn Bailey

Karyn Bailey is one of the authors writing for Higher Perspectives