It took 75 years but, two sisters who were placed up for adoption at the end of World War II were finally reunited.
Annie Ijpelaar and Sheila Anne Fry, both in their late 70s, have Sheila’s daughter-in-law and Anne’s son to thank for the reunion, after they took it upon themselves separated to track their long-lost relatives.
Adopted in the UK as an infant in 1946, Sheila had no knowledge of who her birth parents were—but using a DNA product, they discovered she had a half-sister who lived in the Netherlands, born just a few months after her to the same father.
After meeting for the first time last year, Sheila said, “It was like looking in the mirror and talking to myself. It was amazing.”
We have the same hobbies, and the same medical complaints—it is very strange.”
She always knew she was adopted because her parents told her: “I was special because mummy and daddy picked me.”
They said her father was a Canadian soldier who fought against the Nazis in Europe and returned home after the war.
The search for Sheila’s birth father had remained unsuccessful for eight years, leading the family to believe they’d hit a dead end.
Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, Annie was also trying to uncover her family history, after finding out her stepfather was not her biological father. Annie only discovered the truth after overhearing a conversation between relatives and searching through family documents.
Annie’s biological father was a Canadian soldier who had fought in World War II and participated in the liberation of the Netherlands from Nazi occupation.
Annie’s 50-year-old son, Marc, made a breakthrough when a joke between cousins led to him ordering a DNA test. When the email arrived announcing a DNA match, Marc was astonished to discover that his mother had a half-sister.
After verifying the DNA connection by testing both sisters, Marc finally told his mother he had found her a sister and arranged a video call in May 2022.
“They had an amazing conversation,” said Marc. “They look the same, they have the same hobbies. It was amazing.”
The face-to-face meeting took place in the Netherlands a couple months later.
“We both love to crochet, and we both knit and do crafts,” said Sheila, who joked, adding “I must say, Annie is a lot better than me.”
Annie agrees that the meeting was “very special”.
“We immediately connected… and although the language was a problem it felt very natural to see and talk to my sister after all these years.
“It can be difficult to keep in touch as we are not very good with computers and phones.
“My English is not good, but I am trying to learn. I wish she lived closer.”