When Rachelle Dyer decided to move across the country for a job opportunity, she believed she was doing the right thing for her family despite having to leave her twin sister behind. Little did she know it at the time, but this job offer would bring her closer than she could have ever imagined to discovering a five-decade-long secret about her identity. Rachelle would soon discover that there was possibly more behind the job offer than the hand of fate.
In 2004, Rachelle Arthur Dyer stood poised and ready to make a life-changing choice. She had been working as an elementary school teacher in Washington state, several hours outside of Seattle, in the area where she had grown up. But it was high time for an enormous change, one that would allow her the best course to continue her career path.
Now, she was about to transplant herself and her family across the entire country to adopt a new job and a new environment. It meant leaving many things behind. However, it was the first step that would lead her to the most incredible discovery of her life.
2. Packing Up A Life
Leaving Washington state behind didn’t merely mean the trials and tribulations of joining a new and entirely unknown community. It meant Rachelle would have to say goodbye to someone near and dear to her: her twin sister, Kristelle Arthur Harrington.
The two women had grown up together in Washington, and the fact that Rachelle was moving away meant they would be separating truly for the first time. It was a bittersweet moment, but as fate would have it, Rachelle was in fact moving precisely to the right location. Someone was waiting for her there, and she didn’t have the slightest inkling.
3. The Ties That Bind
Rachelle and Kristelle had shared more than just the formative years of their life. Their story set them apart from the rest of their family, as they had been adopted at birth. All their lives, they had known close to nothing about who their birth mother had been.
Despite that, thankfully they had been fortunate enough to grow up in a happy, nurturing family, with loving parents and two younger brothers. And while they had always been curious about the identity of their birth mother, Rachelle’s change of location was about to set the pieces of their past in place.
4. Change Of Space
Rachelle and her family traded in West Coast for East Coast, resettling in Virginia Beach, Virginia. There, Rachelle was successfully able to continue her career path in education. She started a new job at Tallwood Elementary School, where she worked in the special education department as an assistant teacher.
Though leaving her twin sister and her extended family behind on the other side of the country in Washington had been a difficult choice, she adapted to her new environment. She began making herself a network of friends in her community. But at her new job, she kept hearing something downright peculiar.
5. I’ve Seen A Face
At Rachelle’s new job, she was met with a strange line of questioning. Over and over, Rachelle’s coworkers at the elementary school kept telling her that they had seen her face before — which was all but impossible, considering where she’d just arrived from.
But they insisted she looked just like another one of the former teachers at Tallwood Elementary School. The new friends Rachelle had made couldn’t wait to show her the resemblance, certain she would see the similarity herself. She couldn’t have known it then, but this was the first giant leap towards a massive and life-changing revelation.
6. Seeing Double
Rachelle was told by her coworkers at the school that she had a local doppelganger, a woman named Shannon Holley Nicoll. Shannon was several years Rachelle’s junior, and although the staff at Rachelle’s elementary school knew her well, she had left before Rachelle had started working there.
Shannon had since moved on to work at a different local school in Virginia Beach, King’s Grant Elementary. But that wasn’t going to stop her and Rachelle’s mutual friends from trying to bring the two lookalikes together. They were convinced that the two were each other’s spitting image. At last, in 2009, the perfect situation presented itself.
7. Close Encounter
It was odd trying to arrange a scenario for both women to meet each other purely on the premise that they looked similar, but at last, an opportunity arose. When country music superstar Kenny Chesney passed through the area for a concert in 2009, Rachelle and Shannon’s mutual friends accompanied both of them.
After hearing for such a long time how much they looked alike, the women couldn’t help but agree when they finally met each other. In fact, they remarked that it was quite like looking into a mirror. Together, they posed for a photograph — unable to comprehend that in a matter of time, that photo would change everything they had ever known.
8. A Passing Thought
Though both Shannon and Rachelle had now seen firsthand just how uncanny their resemblance was, the two women didn’t give it any further thought. It was likely just a wild coincidence, an enjoyable and intriguing “aha” moment, but nothing beyond that.
Nearly a decade passed after their chance encounter at the Kenny Chesney concert, and the story could have ended there without either one of the women realizing there was much more to it. But as fate would have it, Rachelle’s husband was about to ask her to do something that would illuminate her entire life story — and where and how Shannon fitted into it.
9. Exploring Her Roots
For over a decade since she had moved to Virginia Beach, Rachelle hadn’t the slightest idea that the key to unlocking a massive secret was practically at her fingertips. In 2017, as genetic testing became all the rage and more accessible than ever, Rachelle’s husband had a novel idea for her: why not try it out?
After all, not only would the results be fascinating for any person who did such a test, but for someone who had been adopted at birth, the test could reveal some new insight into her past. She went through with it — and in March 2018, the results arrived.
10. Overlooking The Results
Rachelle was intrigued to learn the breakdown of the results of her genetic testing. Yet while reviewing the analysis was doubtlessly fascinating, Rachelle didn’t take the opportunity to truly comb through all the information that was being offered on the website. There was one key kernel of insight in the records of genetic testing website that was just waiting to be discovered.
However, it ended up being overlooked for the time being. Yet the truth would yet be revealed to Rachelle, one way or another. And as it would happen, once again, the environment around her would push her into making that discovery.
11. The Mystery Of Genealogy
Just a few months after Rachelle received her own genetic testing results, she heard about them again, but not from her husband. This time, there was a discussion brewing around the subject at her workplace. The elementary school where she worked began doing ancestry and genealogy projects with the kids.
In light of the projects, the school’s principal talked to Rachelle and urged her to take a better look at her data results on the genetic testing company’s website, to really sift through the records and genetic matches. What Rachelle was about to find was the gateway to an entirely new identity.
12. It’s A Match
The ancestry website that Rachelle had used indicated any DNA matches in their system for other people who had submitted a DNA sample of their own for the same genetic testing. They showed how much DNA each subject shared with Rachelle, if at all — and an estimate of how closely related they could be.
One woman showed up as a genetic match for Rachelle, estimated by the test to be her first cousin! It was a woman called Tracey Hall. And although Tracey was astonished and excited when Rachelle reached out to her, she was not at all surprised. She herself had inherited an enormous secret.
13. Sue’s Secret
Tracey’s mother Sue Hall, who lived several hours away in Fredericksburg, Virginia, had been carrying a family secret for much of her adult life. She had promised not to tell anyone about it, but as she got up there in years, she made the conscious decision to pass on the secret to her daughter Tracey.
Sue felt that in case she passed away, it was valuable enough of a secret that Tracey had to know the truth — in case someday, someone should come looking. And thanks to the DNA match from the ancestry website, that moment had at long last arrived.
14. Learning Family History
Sue’s sister, Janice, had moved to Virginia back in the late 1960s all the way from the West Coast. There, with her new husband Dean Holley, she had two girls, who Sue and Tracey had been fortunate enough to share their lives with. But Janice had a secret from before her move, one she entrusted to her sister Sue: she had given birth to twin baby girls before her marriage, back in Washington.
She had been unable to properly take care of the babies at the time they were born, and so she had made the very difficult decision to surrender them for adoption. And one of them had just cracked the code.
15. Hidden Cousin
For all these years, Tracey had known in theory that Rachelle had existed, though of course her name and identity had been a mystery. Until this genetic testing miracle, she and her mother had all but a rough clue as to her whereabouts — or, at least, where she had began life in Washington state.
Yet here she finally was, thanks to the marvels of modern technology, in correspondence with her biological cousin. There were so many different pieces of their lives that they would have to fit together. And Tracey was about to introduce her to a whole new cast of characters.
16. At Her Fingertips
At age 53, Rachelle Dyer had finally learned her true identity, uncovered the circumstances of her birth, and been able to make contact with one of her biological relatives. As Tracey and Rachelle worked at threading together the stories of their lives and tried to make sense of their incredible situation, Tracey could now fill in her newfound cousin with an unbelievably exciting revelation.
As it turned out, meeting the members of her biological family was going to be a whole lot easier than Rachelle could ever have imagined. And there was one member in particular who was just a few minutes drive away.
17. The Doppelganger
That one close relative of Rachelle’s who had been living right there in the very same town as her was none other than Shannon Nicoll. All those years before, Rachelle’s coworkers had told her they bore a resemblance, and the two of them had confirmed it when they had met at the Kenny Chesney concert back in 2009 and snapped a photo together.
Now, a decade later, Tracey had quite the bomb to drop: that was no mere coincidence. The two women were biological sisters from the same mother. And there was yet another character just waiting to join the story of Rachelle’s life.
18. More Sisters
It would have been thrilling enough for Rachelle to have discovered that she had just one biological sister, let alone in the same town as her. But there were even more beautiful surprises in store for her, secrets that her genetic testing had revealed. Shannon had an older sister named Lisa Holley Vann, who also lived in Virginia Beach.
The two sisters had grown up together in Virginia Beach. Now, as it turned out, they had a third sister, right there in their hometown. Through Tracey, the three women connected on social media, incredulous, and began to keep in touch. The stage was set for a reunion of epic proportions.
19. The Fourth Sister
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country was the fourth and final piece of a puzzle that had been waiting to be completed for half a century. Rachelle’s twin sister Kristelle had just returned home to Washington after a vacation in Australia for New Year’s Eve, and her trip had been cut short by appendicitis.
Just as she was recovering from the trip and the emergency surgery, she received a flurry of messages that would change everything she had known about herself. She learned in an instant that she didn’t have just one sister in Virginia. She had three.
How does one properly prepare themselves to meet a sibling they’ve gone their entire life without knowing? That was the question the three women must have asked themselves again and again as they walked into a local Virginia Beach restaurant.
On February 9, 2019, Rachelle, Shannon, and Lisa all sat down together for the very first time to have dinner. Members of their families came to sit by them and observe this momentous, once-in-a-lifetime occasion. It was the first step towards a new life that included one another, the combining of two families to create one new one. There was just one last ingredient missing.
21. The Quartet Is Complete
Just one week after the initial reunion meeting, Kristelle flew from Washington to Virginia to meet her half-sisters. It was a moment that so many adopted children dream of, now made an absolute reality. Naturally, the sisters were accompanied by members of the families they had created.
Shannon’s own two kids watched from the side in amazement — they were so awestruck that they would cover their mouths upon hearing the four women laugh, because of the similarity in their voices. They finished each other’s sentences. But despite the joy of the reunion, Shannon and Lisa had some hard news to deliver.
22. The Matriarch
The mother of the four girls, Janice, had unfortunately passed away just a year and a half before the genetic testing results had brought them together. Aunt Sue explained that it had been imperative for her that the twins she had surrendered be kept together, and that she had wanted them to grow up in a Catholic environment.
It was a bittersweet moment: although they now had fit the two halves of their family back together after fifty years, Kristelle and Rachelle would never get to know their biological mother. Thankfully, she lived on in their newfound sisters, who had been able to spend their lives with her. And they had a theory.
23. Glorious Coincidences
The sisters were convinced that even if their birth mother was not around on this earth to share in the glorious moment of their reunion, she was still able to see it from beyond, and was a witness to it. They were confident that she had played a part in bringing them back together.
After all, of all the cities and all the towns across the massive expanses of the United States that Rachelle could have moved to, why Virginia Beach, where her two sisters just happened to live? Through all the genetic testing companies, how did she pick the one with her cousin in the system? As they reminisced, they discovered one more hilarious coincidence.
24. Big Like
Apparently, long before the genetic testing had been done, and before they had any inkling of each other’s existence, the sisters had been in contact online. Not too long before the discovery of a lifetime, Rachelle had been remarried in a ceremony in Washington state, with her twin sister Kristelle at her side.
The two mutual friends that had tried to connect Rachelle with her assumed doppelganger Shannon all those years before had also attended, and posted plenty of beautiful wedding pictures on Facebook. And who kept liking the photos and remarking on the beautiful bride? Shannon and Lisa, of course! And they had a plan for the future.
25. A Perfect Circle
For Shannon and Lisa, losing their mom Janice had been particularly hard. They had been very close to her, and she had truly served as the glue that bound their family together, the person they would always go to for family gatherings, happy occasions, and holidays. Her passing had left them wondering how celebrations would look from now on.
But all of a sudden, they knew precisely who would fit into the gap she had left behind: Kristelle and Rachelle. Thanksgiving and Christmas would now take on a new form for this big, happy new family of four joyful women.
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