US woman discovers almost identical sister after taking DNA test for fun

A woman who took a DNA test to discover her heritage found a secret sister - who looks exactly like her, and even shares the same hobbies and job. (SWOCsister)

A woman who took a DNA test to find out her genealogy accidentally discovered her biological sister - and they look EXACTLY alike.

All Victoria Voorhees, 27, knew about herself was her birthday, that she was born in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, and that she was adopted.

But after taking the 23&Me home DNA test kit, she got a notification on her phone telling her she had a big sister, Alyss Ravae, 28.

She opened the email and saw a picture of a woman who she immediately thought was her twin.

Victoria, from Chicago, Illinois, said: "I was in disbelief - I opened the email then I saw the picture.

"At first I was like there's no way, I didn't think it was possible and maybe they found someone that has some similarities to me, but I know now that's not how it works!"

Victoria and Alyss found out they had a lot in common; they both love Halloween and have bats tattooed on their ankles.

Sister Alyss said: "When she sent me that picture I literally just dropped my phone, it's opposite feet but the same part!"

Victoria said: "Both me and my sister love Stephen King; I love 'It' and she's a huge fan of 'The Shining'."

"I was five years old and watching Freddy Krueger!" Alyss added.

They also both have cats and make and sell pet portraits online.

After telling her adoptive parents, Richard and Kathleen Schwartz, 73 and 64, they told her that they knew about her sister.

She knew her adoption was 'closed' so assumed any family she had did not want to meet her.

But when she got in touch with her biological mother, Melissa Maldonado, 46, she revealed she intended to keep in touch the whole time

She said: "They always looked for someone named Sapphire who was adopted and was looking for their biological family -I never knew my name was supposed to be Sapphire.

"She was just crying, saying I can't believe I finally found you, it's amazing, you look so much like your grandmother!"

Residential Nurse Victoria was adopted in a closed adoption in 1994 when she was only two months old.

She knew she was born in Phoenix, and when her birthday was, but almost nothing about her biological family.

And after being told she was adopted by her parents when she was six years old she didn't react well, and the topic was rarely brought up throughout her childhood.

She said: "I always remember taking it well but my mum said later on, maybe as I was processing, I think it kind of brought on a little bit of depression.

"I always knew it was closed, I didn't understand right away what closed meant.

"I remember seeing something on Nickelodeon about open versus closed, so I lost hope really fast.

"I thought closed means they don't want you, you can't find them, so I didn't think about it too much. I thought my other family didn't want me.

"But I did always dream about having having an older sibling."

Victoria signed up to 23&Me in December 2019, a DNA testing service that provides customers with their ancestry and genetic predispositions to health conditions.

She was interested in finding out her genealogy as she had known herself to be Hispanic.

Victoria said: "I always was self-conscious because I knew I was Hispanic but I don't speak Spanish very well and I know every Hispanic culture is different.

"People would ask me what type are you but I didn't know, and I was tired of giving that answer. I was just missing a big part of my identity."

She sent off a swab of her saliva and forgot about it.

On the evening of February 18, whilst finishing a shift at work, Victoria noticed she had an email notification from 23&Me saying they had found a 'relative'.

She said: "I saw the picture of my sister, Alyss, and I mean it looked like me! I was like, is that me? That's so weird!

"So I was just staring at it, it didn't register, I was just in shock."

The predicted relationship was 'Sister', and Victoria was blown away - she'd never known she had any blood relatives and had never seen someone who shared her features before.

She sent her a message through the 23&Me app, as well as to a predicted cousin she had been matched with, and rushed home to her parents' house to tell them the news.

Her father started laughing, but her mum stayed completely silent.

Adoptive mum Kathleen then told her that it was definitely her sister and she was a year older than her, but that she wasn't given up for adoption and still had a relationship with Victoria's birth mother.

Victoria said: "I felt like I was in a movie or something, it was just so dramatic!

"My adoptive mum knew it was just closed that was all she knew. I mean, she'd known I had an older sister because I guess the agency told her.

"Of course she didn't tell me because I was WANTING an older sister, but she didn't know names or anything or any of the circumstances.

"It wasn't until I reached out to my birth mother she said I was supposed to be in her life this whole time."

Victoria's adoption in 1994 had been intended to be an 'open' one, where she would still have the ability to connect with her birth mother.

She said: "My birth mother already had my sister and she was young, she was I think 18 or 19 when she was pregnant with me and our birth father wasn't in the picture so it was just not a good situation."

Mum-of-two Melissa claims the agency pressured her into making a decision but due to a "mess up" her details were not passed on to Victoria, and she had been looking for her ever since.

Victoria said: "There's been a lot of lawsuits and the agency has closed down.

"My birth mum never did a lawsuit herself she kept looking for me and trying to reach out to the agency, but never got back to her."

The night she got the result, Victoria received a text message from Alyss confirming that she was her sister and that we share the same mother and father.

She said: "I just said I'm so excited, she was pretty excited as well.

"I never thought I would have this before, it's what I'd always dreamt of."

She arranged a video call with her biological mother Melissa after Alyss passed on her details on February 24, which was "very emotional".

Victoria said: "I couldn't believe I was seeing someone who looked like me, I've never seen that before.

"I showed her some photos of me growing up with my adoptive parents and she was happy but still crying!

"She was like I could've been there, that's how it was supposed to be.

"But she was so grateful to my parents, so appreciative because I can see how much they love you."

Alyss, from Maine, said: "I didn't even think of it as a possibility in my mind, I've tried for so long to find her through social media and it didn't even become a thing to me.

"My mum told me when I was nine that I had a biological sister that came from both my same parents and so I've always tried to look for her

"I took 23&Me just to find out why I was so fair skinned coming from a Latino background.

"It's so weird, all these strange coincidences happened, we live very parallel lives even though we were given very different situations.

"Being the kept child, I love my mum, but my life was very inconsistent at times. There's a lot of childhood trauma I went through, and she lived a very different life.

"Her parents gave her a lot of opportunities but we still had some similar stuff that happened and that's insane to me.

"It's just so weird that how that happened was just with DNA!"

Victoria and Alyss are planning to meet up for the first time in Chicago when everyone has been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Victoria said: "We both like hiking trails as well, I'm going to show her all the cool ones around here!"