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Adopted Sisters Meet for 1st Time in Writing Class

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    Long-Lost Sisters Separated as Kids Find Each Other in Columbia University Class

    A very personal story unfolded in a writing class at Columbia University. On the first day of class, a young woman shared her adoption story. She had no idea her long-lost sister was one of the students listening.Gus Rosendale reports. (Published Monday, May 18, 2015)

    A pair of sisters adopted into different families were raised thousands of miles apart and lived entirely separate lives — until a chance encounter led them to the same non-fiction writing class at Columbia University two years ago. 

    Katy Olson, 34, and Lizzie Valverde, 35, were adopted and raised by separate families three decades ago — Olson in Florida and Iowa, and Valverde in New Jersey, according to The New York Times.

    But two years ago, they wound up sitting in the same writing class at Columbia. On the first day, as students shared some stories about growing up, they realized their connection. 

    "It hit me, all the pieces just collided -- kind of like a big aha kind of moment," said Olson, who had been looking for her sister for years. "I was like, 'Whoa!'" 

    The reunion was truly against the odds: Valverde had registered for the class on the last possible day, and then only made it to the first class with a minute to spare because of traffic. 

    After the class, Olson approached Valverde and asking questions about her personal life, they told The Times. 

    "I think we're sisters," she told Valverde.

    Valverde, who never knew she had a biological sister, asked, shocked, "Is this real life?" 

    This week, as Valverde got ready for graduation, the two women spent time with their biological mother as a group for the first time. 

    "It was awesome," said Leslie Parker, the women's biological mother, told NBC 4 New York. "Like we'd never been apart, in a way." 

    Parker had both daughters while she was a teenager in Tampa, Florida.

    "I was not in a position to raise them," she told the Times.

    "They're brilliant, beautiful young women," she added. "In them, I see what I had the potential to be. They're both living what I always wanted to be." 

    "It's nice to have a happy ending every now and again," said Valverde.