This article was originally published on 24/7Mirror
Two beautiful twin sisters, Rachelle Dyer and Kristelle Arthur Harrington, grew up together in a loving and caring environment on the west coast. As Rachelle decided to move to the east coast in her quest to take on new challenges, it also meant leaving her sister behind. It was a difficult move for her, but it was also full of opportunities to discover and gain more, pursue her career, and build a new community of friends. But Rachelle and her family didn't know that they were going to unravel an old family secret.
Making The Big Move
Rachelle Arthur Dyer worked as an elementary school teacher with full dedication and passion. As she grew up outside of Seattle, she had continued her career as a school teacher without thinking about going somewhere else. However, in 2004, she started to feel that she needed to take on new challenges in her life and pursue her career outside of Washington State.
The mere thought of moving somewhere else with career and better living opportunities excited her. She and her family began preparing the big move. Although it meant that she would be leaving behind her family and twin sister, she knew that it was a tough pill to swallow.
When it comes to leaving behind some physical objects like home and town, a person can get emotional. But it is nowhere near the feeling of leaving behind family, friends, and memories. The hardest part for Rachelle was to part ways and say goodbye to her twin sister, Kristelle Arthur Harrington. As both of them were raised together, it was going to be the first time that they were not going to be living together in the same state.
It was certainly an emotional time for both sisters, but they knew that moving is a part of life. Both of them knew that the decision of Rachelle was for the best. There were tears and smiles on the faces of friends and family members.
A Special Twins Bond
As twins share the same birthday and home environment, they do share a lot more than that as they get to witness life at the same time but through different perspectives.
Twins go through so many phases of life from potty training to puberty to even figuring out their future. They build a special sibling bond and they have a lot of fun. Rachelle and Kristelle had a very unique bond from the start and they knew that they would still be close no matter what happens.
Always Stayed Together
When Rachelle and Kristelle were born, they were adopted together. Although they were separated from their birth parents, they were by each other's side from the start. The twins were adopted by a loving and caring family and they were lucky to grow up with two younger brothers and an incredibly nurturing family.
Regardless of how loving and adoptive parents can be, the question about birth parents does come in mind sooner or later. Rachelle and Kristelle also wondered about their birth parents. So when Rachelle moved to a new state, she didn't know that she would come to know about her family history.
Moving to East Coast - Virginia
Rachelle and her family moved from the west coast to the east coast in search of new careers. In normal circumstances, even chasing a career in the state you grew up in can be difficult, but Rachelle was lucky enough to find a fulfilling job in Virginia Beach. She found a job as an assistant teacher in the Special Education Department at Tallwood Elementary School.
Although it was difficult for Rachelle and her family to adjust living in a new state, they were mentally prepared. It didn't take long for her to find a community of friends from work. But there was one unusual thing about her friends: most of them kept on asking her a strange question. Keep on reading to find out more about it.
"You Look Like Someone I Know"
As Rachelle made herself adjusted to the new environment and group of friends, she started to feel a bit awkward because of one thing. She met new people at the school and most of them asked her kind of the same question. People would tell her that she looks like someone they know.
There were questions whether she'd been around Tallwood Elementary before or she used to teach at the school before coming there again. She found those questions quite strange as she had lived in a different state and have never come to Tallwood Elementary before. But why was everyone so certain that they had seen her before.
She Looked So Familiar, But Why?
As Rachelle was getting to know unfamiliar faces and make new friends, most people she met were curious about why her face looked so familiar. At first, she thought that she has 'one of those faces,' but her friends were adamant about identifying the reason.
Finally, one of her friends said that she looks quite a lot like a former teacher who used to teach at that school and everyone agreed within seconds. They were keen to show her that teacher.
As Rachelle's friends were finally able to pin it down to who she looked like her, they showed her that she has an uncanny resemblance to a former teacher, Shannon Holley Nicoll. Shannon was quite well-known among the faculty and students.
Despite the resemblance, the difference was that Shannon was several years younger than Rachelle. The interesting thing was that Shannon had transferred from Tallwood Elementary School to King's Grant Elementary School (a local Virginia Beach school) and both of them worked in the same field as well.
The friends of Rachelle were super excited to discover her doppelganger and they knew what they needed to do next. After all, they weren't just going to show Rachelle a picture of someone that looks so much like her; they also wanted them to meet each other. It was a bit awkward at first, but the prospect of two familiar-looking people meeting was really exciting.
They couldn't decide how to put their plan into action. They could go for a movie night, a group dinner, or a girl's night with wine. Luckily for them, both Rachelle and Shannon had a lot more things in common than just looks.
Same Taste in Music
The mutual friends of Rachelle and Shannon decided that the best idea for the two women to meet was through their same taste in music. So, they arranged a group night in 2009 to see country star Kenny Chesney in a commemorative country concert.
As soon as both Rachelle and Shannon met, they couldn't believe their eyes. Both of them previously denied that they looked familiar, but not anymore.
But First, Let Me Take A Selfie
Although Rachelle and Shannon are not big fans of "But first, let me take a selfie" meme, they thought it would be best to take a selfie for proof. They were amused to see how right their friends were and they weren't fazed at all about the fact that they looked so much alike.
Rachelle already had a twin sister and she knew that there can be doppelgangers in the world. She just considered it as a happy coincidence. They took a selfie as a commemorative souvenir as they knew that they wouldn't see each other again.
As there have been advancements in technology, there have been some groundbreaking breakthroughs in science and medicine as well. And let's not forget the power of social media.
As genetic testing has become more known in the past couple of years, Rachelle's husband suggested it would be best to get the answers to some questions that she and her twin sister had in their minds for so long: who were their birth-parents. Genetic testing can help you find answers about your ethnicity and heritage as well. So, Rachelle thought, "why not?"
Time for Genetic Ancestry Test
Rachelle's husband encouraged her to try out genetic testing to find answers about their birth-parents. As she didn't know a lot about her biological ancestry, she figured it would be best to give it a try.
So, genetic testing works in two ways: It shows the results of your ethnicity in means of percentages and it can also show DNA matching. If you decide to go for DNA matching, the test will show the potential candidates with similar genetics.
As Rachelle's husband encouraged her to take the test, she decided to go for it without thinking too much about the results.
In March 2018, she got the results. Rachelle didn't take the test considering that she had the option of not choosing DNA matches. She just casually gave the test and didn’t pay close attention to the results as well. She didn't know at that time that genetic testing was going to appear in her life again later on.
Making a Family Tree
Once Rachelle received her results, she started focusing on her personal and professional life. A few months later, the school assigned a genealogy project for the kids. It is because DNA testing was going to help give a new direction to the concept of making a family tree.
It was a perfect opportunity for everyone to give it a try. Everyone was super excited to discover their ancestry. Rachelle took the genetic test at home, but it was time for her to give the test a second look at the workplace as well.
A Second Look
As the students were already doing the project, it was only fair that the teachers do it as well. The entire school was excited about the project and the principal even encouraged Rachelle to take a second look into her results, especially into the DNA matching option.
Rachelle agreed to it. After all, she had already seen her results and it wouldn't hurt to review them again. However, she didn't know that looking at her results the second time would unearth something that she completely missed the first time. She was about to find out something that would completely blow her away.
It's a Match!
Rachelle used a company for genetic testing which allowed her to view her potential DNA matches. So, the website works in a way that it shows how much Rachelle's DNA matched with the DNA of those who matched with her. The website also provided an estimate of how much related those matched candidates are to her.
To Rachelle's amaze, there was a match. She matched with a woman named Tracey Hall. According to the website's estimation, Tracy might have been the first cousin of Rachelle. When Rachelle contacted Tracey, both of them were amazed to discover something truly amazing.
Amazed and Excited
When Rachelle noticed that there was a match, she got surprised and thrilled to talk to Tracey. She didn’t know that the match was hiding a big family secret that was soon going to be revealed.
Rachelle and Kristelle didn't know that there was an important piece of information about their family that they couldn’t know before. Thanks to the DNA test, they were soon going to find out something truly extraordinary.
An Important Family Secret
Tracey's mother, Sue Hall, lived a few hours away in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She told her daughter a family secret that she had kept for her entire life. She first intended not to tell it to anyone, but she decided to share it with her daughter because she thought someone needed to know it in case she passes away.
She wanted her daughter to have the answers to some questions when someone knocks on their door for answers. But what was that big family secret that she had kept with her for so long?
A Look At The Background History
Sue Hall's sister, Janice, had been living on the west coast in the late '60s and then she went back to Virginia. When she returned, she married Dean Holley. The married couple had two beautiful daughters. As Sue also lived in Virginia, she and her sister spent a lot of time together.
One thing others didn't know that there was a secret both sisters shared. Sue knew that before her sister moved back and got married, she had gone through something significant on the west coast. What was it?
Remember the Genetic test estimated that the "matched" candidate was closely related to Rachelle. Well, Tracey was indeed Rachelle's cousin. Sue kept Janice's secret for many years until she decided that someone in the family needs to know it. When Janice was living in Washington, she gave birth to a set of twin girls. She knew what was best for her newborn daughters.
With a heavy heart, she made the toughest decision of her life and gave them up for adoption. She made that decision because she knew she was not capable enough to raise them. So, when Sue told her daughter about her cousins, she was somewhat happy and sad. After all, she didn't know the whereabouts of her cousins.
An Emotional Reunion
It took about 50 years for Rachelle to finally reunite with one of her blood-relatives. It was an emotional moment for Tracy and Rachelle. Genealogical testing helped two long-lost cousins reunite.
As expected, neither of them could believe what was happening. Credit goes to Rachelle's husband as well for encouraging his wife to take the test and also the principal for asking her to check her DNA matches in the report. But that's not the end of it. There was another piece of the puzzle that was still missing.
One Surprise After Another
Rachelle didn't know anything about her birth-mother and who knew she would eventually move to Virginia and find her biological family. She was already surprised and happy to meet her cousin and she couldn't believe her luck when Tracey told her that she has not one but two half-sisters.
It all seemed like a dream to Rachelle. To make things sweeter than they already were, one of her new half-sisters was living a few minutes away from her.
First Family Photo
The journey of Rachelle from making a big decision to move to Virginia and taking a genetic test seems quite long, but it was made possible due to her determination to live a better life. Her half-sister who lived in the very same town was none other than her doppelganger, Shannon Nicoll.
It all started to add up as Rachelle realized her friends were right all along. The mutual friends of Rachelle and Shannon had every reason to think that way. In some ways, the selfie at the concert was their first family photo. Keep on reading because there were other magical things as well.
Rachelle was already super thrilled to discover that her half-sister was living a few miles away from her. Her happiness doubled when she found out that Shannon had an older sister, Lisa Holley. Rachelle couldn't control her excitement and wanted to meet them as soon as possible.
The perfect combination of science and social media did wonders for Rachelle as she was soon going to meet her half-sisters. Tracey wasted no time and connected all three of them. It was surely a family gathering in works as Rachelle and Kristelle found their new half-sisters.
The Best Gift
As Rachelle was finding out more about her half-sisters, things were going differently cross-country. Kristelle returned from a trip to Australia for New Year's Eve because of emergency surgery. Her adventurous trip was cut short due to appendicitis.
As she was still in the recovery stages, she received text messages from her sister. She thought that her sister might be asking about how she was doing, but what she read next changed her life forever. In a matter of minutes, she went from having one loving sister to three sisters.
Kristelle was making a swift recovery and the sisters started to make a big plan of their reunion, which took decades into making. Their reunion wasn't like a normal meet up. It was the meeting between four adult women who weren't aware that half of them existed.
They were still thinking like they all were having a wild dream. As each one of them was eager to meet, they agreed on the reunion place.
First Complete Family Gathering
The first family gathering was full of emotions, laughter, and a few tears. Once they all met and got to know each other, they planned for another family gathering but this time all sisters had to bring their families. It was an incredible experience for all sisters. They knew that it was their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and none of them took it lightly.
As it is with children who are adopted, Rachelle and Kristelle always wanted to know about their birth-mother. They weren't going to let the opportunity go. As they came to know about their mother and half-sisters, what were their initial thoughts on their experience that felt no less than a miracle?
Frist Dinner Together
Rachelle, Shannon, and Lisa decided to meet for the first time at a local Virginia Beach restaurant for dinner. None of them knew that they would be meeting for dinner for the first time together as sisters ten years after their first meeting.
In February 2019, the three lovely sisters had a pleasant dinner in which there were other family members as well. It was a truly special event for all of them.
A Miraculous Discovery
Rachelle and Kristelle's initial thoughts were that it was a miraculous discovery. Shannon and Lisa's initial thoughts were a bit different. It is because Rachelle and Kristelle knew that they were adopted but they never thought in their wildest of dreams that they had sisters or they would one day meet their sisters.
Shannon and Lisa didn’t know that they had sisters. In an interview to Good Morning America, Shannon explained, “Lisa and I had no idea at all that our mother had even given birth to twins in the past,” she continued, “They knew that they were adopted all these years -- so for us, it was pretty mind-blowing."
Rachelle and Kristelle’s Biological Mother
Rachelle and Kristelle felt over the moon at gaining their new sisters, but they still wanted answers to questions about their biological mother. They wanted to know what happened to her. Unfortunately, their mother had passed away a year and a half prior to their reunion.
Their Aunt Sue gave assurance to Rachelle and Kristelle that their mother had to make a tough decision to put them up for adoption because all she wanted was a good future for them. She knew that she wasn't in the condition to give a proper growing environment to her little angels. So, she made sure her daughters grow up together in a Catholic environment. How did both sisters take that sad and heart-felt news?
If Only They Could Meet Her Sooner
When Rachelle met her biological cousin, she was jumping with joy. Both sisters were even more grateful to find that they not only have a biological cousin but two sisters as well. The news of their late birth-mother made them sad as they would've loved to hug their mother and spend time with her.
Rachelle told GMA, “I feel like I was a year-and-a-half too late because that's when our birth mom passed away… [however], all four of us feel like she's had a big hand in this." Rachelle and Kristelle were saddened to hear the tragic news of their mother's death, but they still found some positivity.
A Mutual Feeling About Their Mother
Both Rachelle and Kristelle felt the same way about their mother's demise. She explained on GMA that even their mother wasn't around anymore, but they believe that she is still watching them from above and smiling. Both sisters also believe that their mother had a significant role to play into their miraculous reunion.
Rachelle explained, “[Our mother] getting us all together at this time in our lives. We all really needed it. I've never had my own family in Virginia Beach. And Lisa and Shannon don't have the mom they grew up with there anymore.” On their journey to find their birth-mother, they learned a lot of life lessons as well.
What You Seek Is Seeking You
Out of their once-in-a-lifetime experience, the sisters learned that everything happens for a reason and it was destiny that brought them together. Rachelle explained as they were discussing their mother on GMA, “I like to think that now they have two new pieces of her in me and Kristelle."
If you come to think of it, this would've most probably never happened if Rachelle hadn't taken the decision to move to another state or not taken the genetic test. There is a quote by Rumi that, "what you seek is seeking you," and it holds so true here.
More Than Just Co-Workers
When asked, both Rachelle and Shannon admit now that they should've listened to their friends sooner. If you come to think about it, their mutual friends were right all along. Shannon explained on GMA, “The two friends that kept telling her that we looked alike were my childhood best friends.”
In a sense, they were quite right, both literally and figuratively. By the way, the sisters had another story that happened way back when they didn't know each other.
Social Media Interaction
Before the sisters came to know each other (thanks to the DNA testing), they actually had a little interaction on social media. It happened when Rachelle got remarried in Washington State and Shannon's best friends went to the wedding because they were also Rachelle's friends at that time.
As they uploaded the wedding pictures, Shannon and her sister Lisa were also liking and commenting on their friends' posts. All four sisters had a laugh when Shannon shared that she and Lisa commented on the picture saying "pretty bride." These sisters do look alike, but they also share something else; a special bond.
Good Morning America
The story of four sisters was so amazing that it wasn't a big surprise when Good Morning America contacted them. They invited the four sisters for a segment a few weeks after they had met for the first time. If you watch the video of their interview on the internet, you'd know why their story is so inspiring and heart-warming.
The best thing about the sisters is that they almost have the same sense of humor and sense of emotions and value. That's why the host didn't hold back from saying, “You can tell there is love here. A lot of emotions come with it, but there is complete love here.”
They Have More Things in Common
From watching the segment on Good Morning America, everyone can feel how much emotionally connected all four sisters are and it is truly amazing. Their story and personal experiences have touched so many people.
We urge you to watch the segment, but make sure you do it with a tissue box by your side. From their laugh to their way of talking, everything about them is so identical. Even their kids look at their mothers in awe as they look so similar. Now that they have met each other, what are their future plans?
Kristelle lives in another state and she has brothers who are very close to her. One thing that touched Shannon is the loving family of Rachelle and Kristelle. She mentioned on Good Morning America, “Such a great part of the story, to know that they had a good life.” They can always keep in touch and one of the best ways to do that is through celebrating holidays together.
“Holidays will be different,” Shannon explained, “For us, with losing mom recently. She was thanksgiving. She was Christmas. She was all of those things and made it everything. There was this void there, and now we feel like there is a piece of her.” No matter wherever they go, they will always remain sisters...they will always remain a family and that's what matters the most!