Delaney Flaherty, who was adopted from China in 2003 by Donna and Richard Flaherty of Owensboro, recently took a “23andme” DNA test, and found out she has a biological sister living in Colorado.
Delaney Flaherty, 17, said she received the 23andme test for Christmas in 2018 and had not received many significant notifications from it until she returned home from a school event on Jan. 17.
“I was upstairs and I was getting ready for bed because it was kind of late, but I’d gotten a notification from 23andme and it said that you have a message from a relative,” she said. “I thought, ‘Oh it’s just someone that probably just got their 23andme, probably like a third or fifth cousin or something, like it normally is.’
“I clicked on it and I started reading it and I got to the part where she said, … ‘it predicted us to be sisters,’ and I was … speechless … I came downstairs and I told my parents and we looked at our pictures and … it was crazy how identical they were.”
While most siblings typically share about 50% DNA, according to her mother, Donna Flaherty, Delaney Flaherty and biological sister LinZhi Downs, 13, share 58%, meaning it’s likely they are full biological sisters.
The Flahertys spent the weekend exchanging photos with the Downs family in Colorado before finally deciding to FaceTime each other.
“We were all so nervous … I thought it was a nice visit with each other,” Donna Flaherty said.
She said the girls looked so similar, they could be mistaken for twins if it were not for the few years between them.
“We would compare pictures of them at about the same age and they look like they were twins,” Donna Flaherty said. “When I saw pictures of LinZhi, I would’ve sworn it was Delaney.”
The families learned about several other exciting similarities outside of just physical appearance, according to Richard Flaherty. Both girls are left-handed, play volleyball and even share similar mannerisms and facial expressions. They even have some odder similarities such as both girls have a parent who is a mortgage loan officer.
“When we had our FaceTime call, it was weird seeing Delaney right next to me and LinZhi on the screen, and they just made some of the same faces and had the same mannerisms. It was pretty cool to see,” said Delaney Flaherty’s sister Jade Flaherty, who was also adopted by Donna and Richard Flaherty.
Delaney Flaherty said she and her biological sister have been keeping in touch almost daily for the past several weeks. She said while she is both nervous and excited to meet her sister, she is more happy than anything.
“She smiled for days. Every time we talked about it, she had a big old smile on her face,” Donna Flaherty said.
The two families also plan to meet over spring break in Topeka, Kansas, which is halfway between both families.