The sisters meet for the first time at Thanksgiving; Separated all their lives, two women will spend the holiday catching up on what was lost
Posted at 6:00 am Thursday, November 24, 2022
Lisa Strang and Amanda Brooks had a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving – sisterhood and a serendipitous connection revealed by a DNA test. Strang and Brooks are long-lost sisters who found each other through DNA testing and adoption records. Earlier this week, they met for the first time in their lives.
Opening a connection
Forty-five years ago, Strang, of Chakawina, began researching possible genetic problems before starting to have children. Her godmother went to London, England to do research and came back with Brooks’ birth certificate. Strang and Brooks have a British biological mother; therefore, they both have British birth certificates.
Strang knew she had a sister, but he couldn’t find her until recently.
About two years ago, while on vacation, Strang received an email informing him that a close relative turned out to be Brooks’ son. Strang contacted Brooks’ children via Facebook asking them to contact Brooks. Brooks said one morning her phone kept buzzing with messages from her children urging her to contact Strang. Brooks was stunned by the news that a new relative had been found.
“It literally knocked me over, completely knocked me over. I never, ever expected to find a family — maybe find my mother, but I never, ever considered siblings,” Brooks said. She went on to say that what surprised her the most was that Strang, who three years older than her, was also adopted.
Brooks and her son used DNA tests from Ancestry.com to find out about his biological grandparents on the Brooks side of the family and confirm that Brooks and Strang were a match.
Strang’s information about their adoption confirmed what Brooks already knew. Neither of them had any doubt that they were indeed sisters.
Brooks is originally from Lancashire, England. She originally planned to go to North Carolina two years ago, but the COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on her plans. Instead, she made her first trip to the US a few days ago, wanting to spend Thanksgiving with her sister.
Strang described the scene when she picked up Brooks and Brooks’ husband at the airport. “I was looking at that screen, looking for them to come, and I was looking at him, my knees started to go weak, my heart was pounding. “I never thought this day would happen,” Strang said.
Within 24 hours of her arrival, she and Strang began to notice similarities between themselves. They prefer lemon meringue pie over other flavors, have the same sense of humor and wear similar pajamas. They each have a grandson named Harrison, which is not a surname.
“I’ve known for 45 years — you kind of pray, ‘I hope she has a good life. I hope she is healthy. I hope she is happy.” It was all I could do, Strang said. “Then you start to dream, ‘I wonder what she is like.’ Does she look like me at all?” So you start imagining what you’d like your sister to be like, and she’s absolutely everything I could ask for.’
Across the pond
Brooks remained in England after being adopted and grew up in East London. Strang grew up in New England. How did the sisters end up so far apart?
Strang explained that her adoptive mother was a military bride in England. Her adoptive parents were unable to have children and tried to adopt in the United States. They went to England, where they found Strang. They told family members to meet them at Boston Logan International Airport because they had a special package they were coming home with and it was me,” Strang said.
Brooks and Strang were raised by loving foster parents. Brooks and Strang’s adoptive parents were honest about their adoptions. In turn, Brooks and Strang have been open with their children about adoption.
“The beauty of adoption is knowing that you are truly wanted,” Strang said.
Strand and Brooks would like to see changes to the adoption process. In their general opinion, this process creates many unnecessary problems.
“In England, adoption records are closed,” Strang said. She tried to visit the embassy and several agencies, but “there were roadblocks everywhere.” Strang’s distant British cousin said she would be happy to help. “But she still encountered obstacles trying to get adoption information.”
Strang would like to see US adoption laws change as well. “Adoption is a wonderful thing.” She would like adoption to be easier so that children can be raised by loving parents.
Strang and Brooks believe God brought them together because they were able to overcome many obstacles with strict adoption and record-keeping laws. They believe that He had a special purpose in their meeting at this time in their lives. They also believe that their adoptive parents, who have since passed away, also had a hand in bringing the sisters closer to each other.
Follow your intuition
Brooks said if someone has a suggestion that they may have a relative who can be found, that person should find them.
“I think if anyone knows they’re adopted and is considering finding, do it,” Brooks said excitedly. “Just do it. You won’t regret it.”