At 64, thanks to the internet, she found out she had a sister
Helen Edwards’ childhood in Tyneside, England, wasn’t easy. When her father came home from work, he was violent and abusive. To escape her hardships, Helen did something she never revealed to anyone: she talked to an imaginary sister. The years went by and Helen kept her little secret. Her parents, it turned out, were keeping a secret too.
Just a few miles away lived Jenny Lee Smith. Unlike Helen’s parents, Jenny’s were very affectionate and showed her that they loved her, every day. But they were keeping a secret from her too. One day when she was 14, her life was turned upside down from one moment to the next. She went outside to play with her cousins and got into a bit of a fight with them. Then one of them told her she couldn’t join them and the reason was because she was adopted. When she went back inside, shocked and upset, her mother admitted the truth: they had adopted Jenny when she was six weeks old but never told her. From that moment on, Jenny couldn’t get it out of her head. However, she didn’t dare do anything about it since in 1960s being adopted was still something of a taboo.
It wasn’t until 2003 that Jenny found and met her biological mother. Her mother had become pregnant at the age of 28, but had to give her up for financial reasons. She apologized profusely, but then she revealed an unforgettable new detail: Jenny had a sister. Her mother implored her not to reveal it. "My daughter Helen could walk through the door any minute. Don’t tell her anything, don’t tell her who you are.” Jenny was stuck with yet another shock — and a heavy heart.
One year later Helen and Jenny’s mother died. Jenny decided it was time to search for her sister. She wrote a message on Genes United, a website that brings together family members who have lost track of each other.
Having survived her abusive childhood and lived for decades with no knowledge of the truth — only the memory of her beloved imaginary sister — Helen now received an email. “After doing a lot of investigation, I believe you are my half-sister,” someone named Jenny wrote. Now it was Helen’s turn for an incredible shock. While Jenny had been searching for 40 years for her biological family, Helen had no idea there was even such a possibility. Finally in 2007, they met. It was a very happy reunion.
But amazingly there were more surprises to come. Helen and Jenny thought they shared the same biological mother, but after getting a DNA test, they discovered that their father was the same too! Not only that, the violent man who had raised Helen wasn't even their real father. It turned out that their mother had had an affair and gotten pregnant, but only once. So they weren’t just sisters from the same parents, they were twins! "It's like finding the last piece of the puzzle, we feel as if we were given a second chance," they explained joyfully after meeting again. "We're just trying to make up for lost time."
If only Helen had known, when she talked with her "imaginary sister" all those years ago, that she really existed and that they would find each other over five decades later! Now that is a story with a happy ending.
Watch the two sisters tell their extraordinary story. It's simply impossible not to be touched by their warmth and good humor: