WELDON SPRING, Mo. – The expression “it’s a small world” could not be truer for a pair of Missouri families.
The parents recently learned that their adopted daughters are more than just good friends. Turns out, they’re also half-sisters.
“It’s beyond what you can comprehend. I think even us adults are a little taken back,” Jim Maneage told Fox 2 News.
Jim and his wife, Staci Maneage, traveled to China in 2010 to adopt their daughter, Ellianna.
“We knew she was ours right away,” Staci said, referring to their first face-to-face meeting.
Through Calvary Church in St. Peters, the Maneages met and became good friends with another couple planning to adopt a little girl from China.
Steve and Paige Galbierz adopted their daughter, Kinley, from an orphanage in a different city in China.
As luck would have it, the two families happen to live just minutes apart in Weldon Spring, Missouri.
Kinley and Ellianna are now 7 and 10, respectively, and the two are inseparable.
“They go to the same school. They go to the same church. Our families are together,” Paige Galbierz said.
Both families would soon learn the girls had something else in common. But it required some persuasion on the part Staci to uncover that truth.
“Staci asked me one day, she said, ‘I want to get the girls DNA tested,’” Jim said. “I’m like, ‘What girls?’ ‘Ellianna and Kinley.’ And I was like, ‘What?’ My mind immediately went to how many people there are in China.”
Jim had a valid point. With a population of 1.3 billion people, what are the odds that Ellianna and Kinley were related? Especially considering that they came from different orphanages in different cities? But Staci was thinking with more than her head. “It was just in my heart,” she said.
The “Aha moment” arrived when she had compared two pictures of the girls from the same age. The two looked nearly identical.
After much coaxing, both families – including the girls – agreed to a DNA swab.
A bombshell was dropped a short time later. Paige Galbierz recalls the conversation.
“[Staci] said, ‘I just have to tell you something. I just learned. The results are in. And the girls are 99.9 percent certain they’re half-siblings,’” she said.
The girls share a parent, although it is unclear if it is the mother or father.
“They’re related. Unbelievable,” Steve Galbierz said.
The two families remain close and call the connection a miracle. “God is doing these extraordinary things in ordinary people. And that he chose us,” Paige said. “I have faith that He’s at work. And I’m grateful that we’re along for the ride.”