MANY SISTERS HAVE A SPECIAL BOND THAT GROWS STRONGER OVER TIME. Tami Berg and Lisa Thorson have an incredible and ever-growing connection with their sister, Meg Hawks, even though they just met her last year. Now united, the three women are connected not only by paternal roots, but by similar characteristics, interests and love of family. They are sisters by blood—and sisters by heart.
Dream Come True
Tami, a professor and director of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Winona State University, grew up with her biological sister, Lisa. “I had no idea I had another sister until I did an Ancestry.com DNA test,” says Tami. She had questions about her ethnic background. “It came back with a ‘first order relative’ match, so a little detective work began.”
The genealogy website linked Tami to Meg in Nebraska. She also had tested her DNA. “I remember getting the message from Tami asking if I knew how we could be related,” says Meg, who also works in education as a school secretary. Adopted at birth, she had limited information but knew her birth dad was a salesman and her birth mother had relatives in Italy. “I just wanted to know my ethnicity. I figured I would never find out about my father.”
Indeed, independent sibling DNA tests confirmed Tami and Meg were sisters with 99.99 percent certainty. Meg was born before their biological father, Wally, met Tami and Lisa’s mother. “We think dad (who traveled for his work) never knew about her,” says Tami. Meg adds, “I never thought that taking the test would lead to finding lost sisters, and a whole new family!”
Meg was born to an unwed mother May 4, 1960, at the Salvation Army Booth Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, where she was placed for adoption. Her adoptive, caring parents were graduate students at the University of Illinois-Urbana. Upon graduation, the family moved to Lincoln, Nebraska.
Tami and her full sister, Lisa, grew up in Rhinelander, Wisconsin—more than 500 miles from Lincoln. Now in their 50s, their mother died, followed by their father only one year before they learned of Meg. They had a large extended family to share their good news. “Everyone in our family was thrilled to hear about her,” says Tami. Meg’s adoptive parents are also gone. She is divorced, and, with the exception of two children and two grandchildren, doesn’t have many living relatives.
On the brink of 2018, sisters Tami, Lisa and Meg met. “Although I was nervous, I had such a sense of rightness, a sense of calmness, like this was exactly how this was supposed to play out,” says Meg. “I did feel like I needed to pinch myself often, just to remind me this wasn’t a dream. It was reality, and these were not just fun women to hang out with, they were my blood sisters!”
They spent a week together and began discovering many likenesses. By coincidence, Tami and Meg sometimes wear the same clothes and both love animals, especially rescue dogs, as well as wine. Meg is an avid reader, just like her dad was.
The Gift of Family Legacy
“I’ve had a wonderful life and feel very blessed,” says Meg. “I feel things happened the way they were supposed to. My biggest regret is not being able to meet my birth father, Wally. I think we would have had a fun time together.”
Tami, along with Lisa, is grateful for the gift of a new sister. “I feel so lucky to have this person in my life,” she says. “It feels like part of my dad is still with us. Dad didn’t get a chance to meet Meg, but he would have loved her.”
Trish Amundson is a Rochester-area freelance writer.