Sammy Nickalls
May 18, 2015 12:01 pm

You know those super awkward icebreakers that you have to play during the first day of school, or perhaps a new job? You know, where you have to go around and say something like an adjective that best describes you that starts with the first letter of your first name? They may be totally ridiculous, but they DO help you remember names. And now, we REALLY can’t groan when we have to do icebreakers, because they apparently reunite long-lost sisters, too.

Yep, get ready, because this is an ADORABLE story. As the New York Times reports, Columbia University students Lizzie Valverde, from New Jersey, and Katy Olsen, from Florida and Iowa were total strangers. . . until they enrolled in the same writing class in January of 2013. And when they were doing one of those around-the-table intros on the first day of class, the two women suddenly realized: they’re related.

The women were born to the same mom, as the New York Times reports, but then were adopted by separate families and moved to totally different parts of the country. But the sisters both knew that they wanted to pursue writing and moved to New York City at around the age of 30 to study it full time. Both were accepted to Columbia’s School of General Studies, “which is unique among Ivy League schools in offering returning students a full-fledged undergraduate college experience,” according to the New York Times. And then, both registered for WRIT W3680, a literary-reporting class, because FATE. Even crazier: Lizzie had registered literally minutes before the class began.

When the instructor asked the students to go around and introduce themselves, Lizzie got up and explained that she was adopted as a child and is raising a daughter of her own. Katy realized that everything Lizzie was describing matched up with what she knew of her birth mother. “All the pieces just came together for me,” she told the New York Times.

She decided to approach Lizzie after class and ask her a series of questions about her past. Lizzie thought Katy might know her sister.

“And, I’m like yeah, I don’t know your sister, I think I am your sister,” Olson tells ABC News.

“When she said, ‘I am your sister,’ I just froze,” Valverde adds.

Yeah, we’re pretty sure that’s how we’d respond, too.

“We went straight to the bar,” Olson tells ABCNews. “And we just ordered pitchers of beer and just started going back and forth with our lives and biographical details… Like, do you like chicken wings? I like chicken wings. Do you have a weird pinkie toe? I have a weird pinkie toe.”

And now, today, Lizzie, 35, is graduating. . . and there will be two very important people in the audience. One, her sister, and one, their birth mother, Leslie Parker, whom Katy, 34, has met, but Lizzie has not. Katy urged Lizzie to contact her via phone, and now, the three will be reunited for the very first time since birth.

“I was not in a position to raise them [as a teenager] . . . If I had raised them, they wouldn’t have had the privileges they had,” Leslie explained to the New York Times. “They’re brilliant, beautiful young women. In them, I see what I had the potential to be. They’re both living what I always wanted to be. . . I’m glad I chose to have them and gave them the chance at life,” Leslie told New York Times. “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual, but if you don’t believe in a higher power, you would, when you heard their story.”


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