Speed Reads

truth is stranger than fiction

Sisters separated as babies find each other 30 years later in a writing class

When Lizzie Valverde introduced herself to the other students in her creative writing course at Columbia University, she was shocked when a classmate began to ask her some very personal questions.

"[She asked] 'Were you given up for adoption in Tampa, Florida, to a woman named Leslie?'" Valverde told CBS News. "I was like, whoa, whoa, whoa! The room kind of froze, and I just said, 'Is this real life?'" It turns out, both Valverde, 35, and Katy Olson, 34, are the daughters of Leslie Parker, who as a teenager put the girls up for adoption after their births. Valverde, who grew up in New Jersey, had tracked Parker down a few years before she enrolled in the fateful 2013 class, but Olson, raised in Ohio and Florida, had yet to meet her.

That will change on Monday. Two years after meeting her sister, Olson will meet Parker for the first time when she attends Valverde's Columbia graduation. Parker, who now lives in Rhode Island, calls the twist of fate a "miracle," while Valverde sees it more as a "fairy tale." She is grateful for Parker, who said she felt it was in her children's best interest to put them up for adoption. "A lot of sacrifices were made for me to be sitting where I am right now, the largest sacrifice, conceivable, ever," Valverde said. "And so, I never forget that."