For 77 years, Ann Hunt had no idea that she had a sister, let alone a twin.
After her adoptive mother died, Hunt began to search for information on her biological family, and last year discovered she has a twin. That woman, Elizabeth Hamel, lived in Oregon, and while she knew her sister was out there, she never thought they would be reunited.
"You wonder about someone and what they're like and suddenly they're here," Hamel told The Associated Press. "It's a shock."
The twins, thought to be fraternal, were born in England in 1936 to an unmarried domestic servant. Unable to care for both girls, she put Hunt up for adoption; Hamel says that their mother decided to keep her because she had a curvature of the spine, which would have made it harder to be adopted. Both women were raised as only children, and went on to marry and have kids of their own — Hunt had three daughters, and Hamel had two sons.
One of Hunt's daughters tracked down Hamel last year, and the sisters began to form a relationship long distance, chatting often on the telephone. Hamel's son contacted Prof. Nancy Segal at the Twin Studies Center at California State University, Fullerton, where Segal researches twins raised apart to better understand the link between genes and environment in human development. She brought the women together May 1 for their first in-person meeting, and they will now participate in Segal's study. The two also plan on spending the next week catching up on the past eight decades. --Catherine Garcia