"How lovely to see you in the flesh."
Those are the words Elizabeth Hamel said to her twin sister, Ann Hunt, when she met her for the first time in her life last week at a hotel in Fullerton, California.
Hamel and Hunt never knew each other growing up. The sisters were born in 1936, in Aldershot, England. Their mother, who worked as a domestic servant, made the difficult decision to give up one of her babies after she was abandoned by their father.
Hunt was the one who was given up for adoption shortly after her birth. She spent her life in England, never knowing she had a twin sister. Hunt, who now has three daughters of her own, began the search for her birth mother after her adoptive mother died. One of Hunt's daughters, Samantha Stacey, helped find Hamel and sent her a letter letting her know her sister was looking for her.
Hamel was raised by the twins' mother. She said her mother chose to keep her because she had a curvature in her spine, making it more difficult to find an adoptive home. She met an American man when she was with the Women's Royal Enlisted Navy and eventually moved to the U.S., raising two boys on the west coast. Hamel always knew she had a twin sister somewhere out there in the world, but she never thought she would find her.
All of that changed the day she got Stacey's letter.
Soon the women were talking on the phone. Via the Orange County Register:
Since learning about each other, Hunt and Elizabeth "Liz" Hamel have spoken mostly by Skype. But they wanted to look each other in the eyes and finally hug. Within minutes, Hamel walked in the room. Liz had always known she had a twin. On Thursday night, the sisters reunited for the first time since birth.
"I've got a sister," Hunt said upon meeting Hamel.
The women are also working with Nancy Segal a professor with the Twin Studies Center at California State University, Fullerton. Segal specializes in studying twins who were raised apart.
The BBC documented their reunion and plans to air a program about their story in the near future.
Image via Shutterstock.