ORLANDO, Fla. (FOX 35 Orlando) - Christine Courtwright nervously tapped her foot sitting in baggage claim B of Orlando International Airport Thursday. Like many, she waiting for a traveler to arrive, but likely few in the airport had to wait nearly as long as she had.
At nearly 70 years old, this retired resident of The Villages was about to become a little sister.
"Forty-five years ago, my mom did tell me before she and my dad met, that he did have a little girl,” said Courtwright, "and if someone knocked on my door one day and said, 'I may be your half-sister,' you kind of have to believe her."
Christine never quite new if it was true and never really pursued the matter; until it just kind of popped up recently. Courtwright has spent about 10 years helping others in The Villages discover their genealogies through the help of online website. She said recently, she signed up to MyHeritage in order to help a man trace his ancestory, but the site instead found a link in her DNA.
"Within 20 minutes it popped up and said, 'we have a match!'" she said.
It turned out a woman in Dover, Delaware had also signed up to search for her ancestry and the site found their DNA to be a close match. Very close. Courtwright said it either flagged the DNA link as herself under an old user name, or a sibling.
Courtwright and the woman, Liz Cuccinello, started talking through letters, email, and on the phone, and Courtwright said it became very clear that this was in fact her long-lost sister.
Cuccinello said she was adopted at birth and knew little to nothing about her bloodline.
The duo decided they had to meet.
So nervously, Courtwright waited in the baggage claim with a bouquet of roses; not even sure what Cuccinello looked like. Then, when Liz descended down the escalator, both women’s jaws instantly dropped; knowing within a moment who they were looking at.
The two quickly embraced in a hug and almost immediately started sharing stories and jokes. Sisters united late, but finally united.
A spokesperson for MyHeritage said the website hopes to unite more long-lost family members like Liz and Christine and are giving away free DNA kits to 5,000 adoptees now through the end of April to help them find their bloodlines. More information can be found at the website DNAQuest.org.