Separated sisters reunite after 75 years of adoption following World War II

After a span of 75 years, two sisters who were separated and put up for adoption at the end of World War II have finally been reunited.

Annie Ijpelaar and Sheila Anne Fry, both in their late 70s, owe their reunion to the determination of Sheila’s daughter-in-law and Anne’s son, who took it upon themselves to search for their long-lost relatives.

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Sheila, adopted in the UK in 1946 as an infant, had no knowledge of her birth parents. However, through the use of a DNA testing product, they discovered that she had a half-sister living in the Netherlands, born just a few months after her to the same father.

It was Sheila’s daughter-in-law, Karen, who received a message from Annie’s son, Marc, leading to both sisters undergoing DNA tests that confirmed their familial connection.

Having met for the first time last year, Sheila exclaimed, “It was like looking in the mirror and talking to myself. It was amazing.” She added, “We have the same hobbies, and the same medical complaints—it is very strange.”

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Sheila had always known about her adoption as her parents had shared with her that she was special because they had chosen her. They informed her that her father was a Canadian soldier who had fought against the Nazis in Europe and returned home after the war.

The search for Sheila’s birth father had remained unsuccessful for eight years, leading the family to believe that they had reached a dead end. Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, Annie was also on a quest to uncover her family history after discovering that her stepfather was not her biological father. Annie stumbled upon this truth while overhearing a conversation among relatives and sifting through family documents.

Annie’s biological father was revealed to be a Canadian soldier who had fought in World War II and played a role in liberating the Netherlands from Nazi occupation.

Marc, Annie’s 50-year-old son, made a breakthrough when a joke between cousins prompted him to order a DNA test. To his astonishment, he received an email announcing a DNA match, leading him to discover that his mother had a half-sister.

After confirming the DNA connection through testing, Marc finally informed his mother that he had found her a sister and arranged a video call in May 2022.

“They had an amazing conversation,” said Marc. “They look the same, they have the same hobbies. It was amazing.”

A couple of months later, the long-awaited face-to-face meeting took place in the Netherlands. Sheila shared, “We both love to crochet, and we both knit and do crafts,” adding with a touch of humor, “I must say, Annie is a lot better than me.”

Annie concurred that the meeting was “very special,” expressing how they instantly connected. She acknowledged the language barrier but found it natural to see and talk to her sister after all those years.

Though keeping in touch can be challenging due to their limited proficiency with computers and phones, Annie expressed a desire for closer proximity, saying, “My English is not good, but I am trying to learn. I wish she lived closer.”