missouri-neighbors-half-sistersTwo Missouri families are now bound together by more than sharing the long journey toward adopting their separate daughters. The Maneage family and Galbierz family live three minutes apart, attend the same church and the same school district and even attended the same Bible study for a time. They became close friends after connecting in 2008 at a support function for families waiting to adopt.

In 2010, the Maneage family adopted their daughter Ellianna from China. In 2013, the Galbierz family went to China to adopt Kinley. When Paige Galbierz posted pictures of her new daughter, Kinley, on Facebook, Staci Maneage could not get over the feeling that she was looking at pictures of her own little Ellianna. Turns out, the similarities that Maneage noticed off and on for the next few years were more than coincidence. Staci convinced her friend to get the girls both DNA tested.

“All those times when she would ask if the girls looked similar didn’t go unnoticed,” Paige said. “I thought, ‘Will this finally stop the conversation?’ There’s nobody who thinks the odds are in favor of this having merit.”

The odds were not in their favor, indeed. The girls were found in separate cities several hours away from each other. They were cared for in two different orphanages. The adoptions were done through different agencies and finalized several years apart. But the DNA tests were pretty conclusive. The astounding news is that they are 99.99% likely to be half-sisters. A whole new direction to the conversation opened up with the news.

Both families have had to share the news with the girls in ways that help them understand and process the information. Both families are determined to make it work for the girls, to remain connected and grow as sisters.

“We are still figuring out family gatherings, holidays and birthdays,” Paige said. “We are trying to be intentional about how to allow them that chance to stay closer together.”

Whatever happens, the girls’ adopted parents are determined to make a new sense of family work.

“These girls have a treasure,” Paige said. “Our job as parents is to foster it and support it.”

Photo Credit: Dorinda Peyton Photography