Tinetti and Madison, now 34, first met in 2013 at a Connecticut restaurant where they both worked.
Julia Tinetti had to wait 32 years for a hug from her biological father. Tinetti who was adopted as a baby and raised by a single mother, discovered through DNA testing last year that her best friend, Cassandra Madison was actually her sister. The siblings traveled together to the Dominican Republic so Tinetti could meet their biological father and nine other siblings. They were welcomed at the airport by the family who wore t-shirts with a picture of the pair's faces that said "Welcome to your family," in Spanish. "The trip was life-changing," Tinetti tells PEOPLE.
Julia Tinetti (31) y Cassandra Madison (32) se conocieron en 2013 siendo empleadas del Russian Lady Bar, en New Haven.— Sébastien Mélières (@SbastienMlires1) March 5, 2021
En 2015, Madison se mudó a Virginia Beach y siguieron siendo amigas.
3 años después, una prueba de ADN reveló que eran hermanas. @GoodNewsCorres1 pic.twitter.com/YtMaX0nczh
Tinetti and Madison, now 34, first met in 2013 at a Connecticut restaurant where they both worked. After learning that they were both adopted from the Dominican Republic, and even had matching tattoos of the country's flag, they developed a bond. They'd checked if their adoption papers matched up but they didn't.
Madison had taken a DNA test before and had already connected with her biological family in 2019. In January 2021, she convinced a nervous Tinetti to take a DNA test. The results revealed that they really were sisters.
Friends Cassie Madison and Julia Tinetti, who met as co-workers at a restaurant, tell @craigmelvin how a DNA test revealed that they were biological sisters. pic.twitter.com/aXtlPYrVmi— 3rd Hour of TODAY (@3rdHourTODAY) April 9, 2021
Growing up with a single mom Tinetti had always longed for her father. But after learning that she really had one, she was scared to meet him in person. "I worried, 'Are they going to love me just as much as they love Cassandra? Are they going to accept me for me?' " she recalls. She delayed her trip to meet her family due to this reluctance. She also needed her covid certificate and a passport. In October Madison wanted to visit the Dominican Republic to celebrate her daughter Catalina's first birthday and she insisted Tinetti joined her. "Catalina was never supposed to have a grandfather," she says. "My adopted dad is not involved in my life, my husband's father passed away, so she was never supposed to have a grandpa. So for her to have one and for him to be so awesome is absolutely incredible."
Julia Tinetti and Cassandra Madison always joked that they were sisters, but had no clue they shared a biological family. https://t.co/4WZeLAGKq4 pic.twitter.com/4tcWvI5BGN— NECN (@NECN) October 28, 2022
Tinetti was also worried about the acceptance of her decision by her adoptive family. But her worries were put to rest when her mother joined her. Meeting her biological family for the first time, Tinetti was overwhelmed with joy. "I was like, 'Oh my God, they look just like me,'" she remembers. "My dad was ahead of everybody and he just came up to me and he was like, 'My daughter.' And he just started crying," she recalled about the first time they hugged each other.
Tinetti who spent the week connecting with her family felt she'd found the missing piece of her life and knows that she "definitely needed that" though she was fine knowing that she was adopted. She now has so many memories and constant contact with her family that have changed her life for the better. Adriano Luna and his late wife were struggling financially which forced them to place Madison and Tinetti for adoption in hopes of giving them a better life. Luna said, "nothing can compare to the happiness I feel now."
Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Cavan Images