Ella (L) and Anna at play together in Cullowhee. (Aug. 18, 2013/FOX Carolina)
CULLOWHEE, NC (FOX Carolina) -
Between the games, the playing around and the sheer energy between them, you wouldn't know that Ella and Anna had never met before.
But they are, essentially, strangers, having never met until this past Saturday.
It's not lost on the parents that the two have many similarities.
"They have a lot of the same facial expressions, so things like that catch me off guard," said Karen Kandl, mother of Anna.
There's also an immediate connection. Anna and Ella's energy is palpable as they run and play.
"Normally she's extremely shy and timid," said Ella's mother, Teresa Cuares.
How Anna and Ella came to meet is a story in itself, and it all goes back to when they were adopted in China in 2006.
Anna and Ella are fraternal twins, but each of their adoptive parents said that they weren't found together.
Ella's parents said she was left at a park. Anna's parents said she was left at the doorstep of a hospital. No one was really sure if they were sisters.
But during the adoption referral process, Cuares and Kandl met, and there was an inkling that there was something was special about the children they adopted.
"As soon as we realized the girls shared birthdays, Karen emailed me and said, 'You know, I noticed that our girls shared birthdays. Do you think it's a possibility that they are twins?'" said Cuares.
The two families remained friends through Facebook. Each would see the other's child. Over time, the double-takes they would have on photos came to be too much, and they had to know.
"I'll look at Ella, and I can just see that they are related," said Ella's father, Randy Cuares.
Earlier this summer, the parents took a big step, asking for a DNA test. That test proved that Anna and Ella were biological sisters.
"Now we know for sure," said Anna's father, Joe Pechmann.
This past weekend, while Ella's family was on their way to a vacation in Myrtle Beach, they made a stop in Cullowhee, where Anna's family lives.
Teresa Cuares described the initial meeting as "awkward," but that changed pretty quickly, adding, "It didn't take long for them to realize, 'Oh, if we go inside and avoid all this parent stuff, we can get to know each other.'"
Anna has an older sister, but Ella is an only child. But the parents of both said the girls have gained a second family.
"It's a connection we can't give her. It's something we can never ever provide, and now we have one," said Teresa Cuares.
"I think it's invaluable for her to know she has a sister," said Kandl.
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