LEBANON, Conn. (WTNH) — “Cassandra and I were friends, working at a bar in New Haven, Connecticut,” said Julia Tinetti, not long after these friends of eight years found out they were much more, thanks to a 23andMe test.
“Sure enough, I opened it and hit DNA relatives and Cassandra was at the top, it said she was my sister,” explained Tinetti of her new sister, Cassandra Madison.
In the last year, these two sisters, just a year and a half apart, have been discovering a new dynamic, using Facetime to communicate from Virginia to Connecticut.
“It was not real for a really long time,” said Tinetti. “She was like, ‘Can we do sister things now, get pedicures.’ So, we’re figuring the sister thing out.”
And, in early October, a huge moment occurred. Tinetti took her first trip to their homeland, the Dominican Republic, and it was an overwhelming moment.
Not usually someone who cries, Tinetti became incredibly emotional.
“So, in the airport when they’re all waiting, there with t-shirts with your face on it saying, ‘Welcome to your family.’ It’s one of those ‘oh my God’ moments,” she said. “They look exactly like me. I never thought I’d ever meet my biological family.”
The most important connection quickly became the one with her father.
“I grew up without a dad. For me, that piece of it was a missing piece of the puzzle,” she noted. “He took me on a motorcycle ride, showed me the country, a house that he built he was so proud to have me there.”
Tinetti, a mental health professional, said she always struggled with identity and now has a much deeper connection to her roots and culture.
Her adoptive family has been supportive of this journey and Tinetti believes she has lived the life she was supposed to.
“Now I have the best of both worlds,” she said. “I’m going to just continue to enjoy this moment and this experience.”
Tinetti is looking to continue building a relationship with her dad and plans to visit her new family in the Dominican Republic about once a year.