These Co-Workers Became BFFs Before Learning a Secret Connection That Changed Their Relationship Forever

Mon Dec 05 2022

More often than not, you spend more time with the people you work with than you do with your own family. You see your co-workers for hours and hours every single day, five days a week. So, being friendly with your co-workers is always worthwhile. In some cases, though, people have found their best friends for life at work.

Cassandra Madison and Julia Tinetti were lucky. They went from co-workers to best friends, and their connection blossomed as they worked by each other’s side. As best friends they knew each other’s quirks and characteristics, and they knew they could rely on each other. But they didn’t realize that their connection ran much deeper than that.

Cassandra and Julia First Met in 2013, When They Were Both Working in a Bar

All life-changing stories have to start somewhere, and for Cassandra Madison, 32, and Julia Tinetti, 31, it started way back in 2013. It was during this time that the New Haven natives were both working at the Russian Lady Bar. Tinetti worked as a hostess, and Madison worked as a waitress. And before too long, they became friends.

Tinetti confessed that their relationship “was like natural. It wasn’t awkward. We hit it off literally right away.” And while they began to connect over their shared experiences and stories from working in the service industry, their conversations soon began to change. And they soon realized that they had much more in common than they thought.

The Women Soon Realized They Had the Exact Same Tattoo, and They Couldn’t Believe the Coincidence

As they learned more about each other and spent more and more time together, Tinetti soon realized that Madison had something interesting on her arm; a tattoo of the Dominican Republic flag. Amazed, Tinetti told her new friend that she had the exact same tattoo, but that hers was located on her back instead.

Their shared heritage allowed Tinetti and Madison to connect much deeper, and Tinetti told Good Morning America, “We started hanging out. We would go out for drinks, for dinner. We started dressing alike.” However, as they learned more about each other and their upbringings, the two women soon realized that this coincidence was just the tip of the iceburg.

When They Learned That They Were Both Adopted, They Decided To Compare Adoption Paperwork

As all friends do, Tinetti and Madison spoke about their childhood, their parents, and their lives before the moment they met. It was during these conversations that they learned of another coincidence between them; they were both adopted from the Dominican Republic when they were babies.

Madison noted that “I’m adopted from there and she’s like, ‘What? Me too!’ And I was like, ‘That’s so cool.” The two women began to joke that they were sisters, but after a while, they began to question whether their joke could be reality. To answer their questions, they decided to dig out their adoption paperwork and compare them.

Although They Also Looked Similar, Their Adoption Paperwork Didn’t Seem To Match Up

Tinetti and Madison couldn’t believe that they were both adopted, had the same tattoo, and bore a strong resemblance to each other. They had dark brown eyes, and dark hair, and their features seemed to match up. Because of this, they were fully expecting their adoption papers also to match up. But they didn’t.

Not only did their adoption papers confirm that they were born in two different cities, but they also bore two different last names, and “our mothers’ names on our paperwork were different.” The two friends had been convinced that they were related somehow, so this news did come as a shock to them. But it didn’t dispel their gut instinct completely…

The Two Friends Were Disappointed, but They Still Had an Inkling That Their Connection Was Real

The two women knew they had a connection that was unlike any other co-worker relationship. And while their paperwork didn’t match up, they felt as though they did have something between them, based on their birth dates, their timelines, and their resemblance. After all, Madison was born in 1988 in the Dominican Republic, and Tinetti was born in 1989 in the Dominican Republic.

But without proper proof, the women resigned to the fact that they just had a deep human connection. Tinetti confessed that “It would have been crazy if it did end up being that it matched up, but we were like, ‘All right, well that was cool while it lasted.” However, this wasn’t the end of their story.

Her Connection With Tinetti Left Madison Asking Even More Questions About Her Own Adoption

Although Madison was excited about the prospect of having a sister she didn’t know about, she ultimately had to come to the conclusion that her connection with Tinetti was just that of a sister-like bond. But looking back at her adoption papers and questioning things with her friend left Madison in the lurch when it came to her biological family.

Like many other adopted people, Madison had questions that hadn’t been answered about her biological family. She didn’t know who they were, she didn’t know why they were adopted, and she just wanted to learn a little more. She loved her life, but these questions plagued her mind. So, she knew she needed to do something about it.

Madison Sent Off a 23andMe DNA Testing Kit, and Found Much of Her Biological Family Were Still in the DR

Madison’s adoptive mother knew that she was struggling with the questions surrounding her biological family, so she bought her daughter a 23andMe DNA genetic testing kit in 2018. So, she sent off her DNA in search of answers and waited for the results. When she got them, she connected with a cousin in Connecticut who had links to the Dominican Republic.

In fact, this cousin had all of the answers she could possibly need. They were able to link Madison up with the rest of her biological family, most of which still lived in the Dominican Republic. Because of this, Madison knew there was only one thing to do; buy a plane ticket and meet her biological family in the flesh.

She Traveled to the Dominican Republic in 2019 To Meet Her Biological Father for the First Time

Of course, Madison was nervous. But whatever the outcome, she knew that she needed closure for herself, and she knew that she would never be happy until she had answers to her questions. So, she flew to the Dominican Republic in 2019 and reunited with her biological father. But he wasn’t the only person she met.

As well as meeting her father, Adriano Luna Collado, Madison also learned that she had seven siblings. She met many of them during her trip, and she learned a little bit more about their family as a whole. Sadly, she also learned that her birth mother had passed away in 2015 after suffering a heart attack. And while this seemed like the closure she needed, Madison had a surprise around the corner.

Tinetti Moved Away in 2015, and Originally Had No Intentions of Finding Her Biological Family

While Madison was learning more about her biological family and meeting them in the flesh, she was still in contact with her former co-worker Tinetti. Although the two best friends no longer worked together or even lived in the same state, they were still as thick as thieves. And Tinetti was intrigued by Madison’s discoveries.

Although Tinetti was happy that her best friend was finally getting the answers she wanted, she didn’t feel as though she wanted to follow suit. Tinetti was happy with her life and had never had the urge to pursue information about her biological family. But before too long, that information came to her without her even trying…

Tinetti’s Childhood Best Friend, Molly Sapadin, Started Connecting Dots to Her Own Adoption Story

In 2020, Tinetti was still happy living her life without knowing her adoption story. But her childhood best friend, Molly Sapadin, had her own story to figure out. Like both Tinetti and Madison, Sapadin had also been adopted from the Dominican Republic when she was just a baby. She also knew Madison through her friendship with Tinetti.

When Sapadin saw Madison reuniting with her biological family on Facebook, she was drawn to something. She told TODAY that “I saw that Cassandra was connected with the biological family that I thought I was connected with, because I had her names of her family on my paperwork.” She wondered whether she could be related to Madison, so she decided to take a DNA test.

Sapadin and Madison Had the Same Names on Their Adoption Papers, so They Thought They Could Be Sisters

In December 2020, Molly Sapadin took the DNA test that changed everything for her, Madison, and Tinetti. By this point, Sapadin was convinced that she was related to Madison in some way. After all, when comparing their adoption papers they discovered that they had the same last name and the same woman listed as their birth mother.

Sapadin and Madison were convinced that they were sisters or even half-sisters. But when the DNA results came back, they were confused. They discovered that they were actually cousins instead. And while Tinetti was excited to watch her two best friends learn of their connection, she didn’t realize that she was also about to be brought back into the mix.

Madison’s Father Eventually Confessed to Giving Another Daughter Up for Adoption, But It Wasn’t Sapadin

As Tinetti kept up to date with her two best friends’ connection, she started talking in detail to Madison about her own adoption story. It was during these conversations that they both began to wonder whether there had been a mix-up with their adoption papers. Both women had been adopted on the same day, and they wondered whether their papers had been accidentally swapped.

After probing her biological father, Madison discovered that he had given another daughter up for adoption a year after her: “He said, ‘It was just a difficult time for your mom and I. So, I don’t like to talk about it. I don’t like to think about it.” But if Sapadin was her cousin… who was her sister? And where did Tinetti fit into all of it?

Madison Still Had a Hunch That Tinetti Was Her Sister, so She Forced Her To Do a DNA Test

With the news that she really did have another sister under her belt, Madison stopped ignoring the hunch that she had in her gut. And while she knew their paperwork didn’t match up, she also knew that she couldn’t ignore the connection she had with Tinetti. There was something special about their connection, and she knew it.

Because of this, Madison noted that “I hopped in my car and drove to Julia with a 23andMe kit in my car from Connecticut to Virginia and shoved it in her face and told her she had to do it.” As a favor to her friend, Tinetti agreed and sent off her results. They were impatient, but they knew they had to wait two weeks to find out whether they were related once and for all.

As They Waited for Their Results, the Women Couldn’t Contain Their Excitement

Although Tinetti had never had any real desire to find her biological family, there was something about the prospect of being related to her former co-worker and best friend that excited her. The two weeks passed slowly, and they counted down the minutes until they received the DNA test results back. Finally, Tinetti received that all-important response…

When Tinetti was contacted by 23andMe with her results, she noted that “I opened it, and I’m like, ‘Wait, let me close it out and like bring it back up to make sure this is real.’ And then I’m like texting Cassie, I’m calling her, and I’m like, ‘You need to call me, results are in, results are in!’ But what did the results say?

The DNA Results Confirmed That Madison and Tinetti Are Biological Sisters After All

Tinetti continued, “Finally she calls me back, and I said, ‘Cassie, I am in fact your biological sister.'” The DNA test results confirmed that, despite the inconsistent adoption papers, Madison and Tinetti were related by blood and shared 57% of their DNA. But this meant that Madison wasn’t Tinetti’s only biological sibling.

As Tinetti learned more about her family from 23andMe and Madison herself, she discovered that her parents had nine children overall – three sons and six daughters. She also learned that she and Madison were the only two adopted and that they were also aunties to multiple nieces and nephews who were still living in the DR. Their father also shared some insights into their family.

Their Father Confessed That They Were Put Up for Adoption Because Of a Sick Brother

With Madison’s help, she also got in contact with her biological father. And while they didn’t ask for an explanation, their father decided to explain why they were both put up for adoption while their other siblings weren’t. He confessed that they were put up for adoption because their older brother was incredibly sick when they were born, and they didn’t have the finances to look after them.

Madison stated that when they had this conversation with him that “My father just cried a lot, and he just kept apologizing.” However, the two women didn’t need an apology. They weren’t angry with him, and they completely understood his reasons.

Neither Women Blame Their Father for Putting Them Up for Adoption, As They Understand His Reasons

As adults themselves, both Madison and Tinetti understand the hardships that people face – and they understand why their biological father made the decision he did. Tinetti confessed that “You can’t be mad at somebody for wanting to give their child the best life.”

In fact, she believes that it was all part of a bigger plan: “And now the fact that we can connect with them, it’s very, very special for us… On top of the DR being a very poor country, they couldn’t take care of us. I was [born] 17 months later and they weren’t ready.” However, Tinetti was also very conflicted.

Finding Her Biological Family Has Been an Exciting But Tough Journey for Tinetti

Although Tinetti is happy to learn that two of her best friends are related to her by blood, she has also struggled with this whole process. She never had any intention of learning more about her biological family, and so this new information has been tough for her to manage.

She stated that she’s “still processing the magnitude of the situation. This is the type of thing you see on TV. Finding my biological family just wasn’t a thing for me. I grew up with a great family, so I just kind of left it to what it was.” Despite this, she knows that she has been blessed with an opportunity, and so she has started making moves to understand this biological family more…

The Sisters Have Spoken to Their Biological Family on FaceTime, and Learned More About Their Siblings

As the pandemic hit while they were in the process of learning more about their biological family, and learning that they were sisters, Madison and Tinetti couldn’t fly to the Dominican Republic immediately. This worked for Tinetti, who wanted to take things slowly. So, they first started talking to their biological family on FaceTime.

Tinetti said that “It’s very overwhelming because there’s a lot of them. Everybody’s excited so everyone’s like, ‘I want to see her, I want to talk to her.'”Thankfully, they all got on like a house of fire, and Tinetti began to understand that she could have a relationship with her father and siblings on her own terms. She still wanted to go to the DR, though.

In 2022, Tinetti Decided That It Was Time To Fly to the Dominican Republic To Meet Her Biological Family

In 2022, when borders had opened back up and the world had settled into its new normal, Tinetti decided to make a step that would change her life forever. As Madison had already met their biological father in the flesh, she knew that she had to do the same. So, she planned her trip.

She wasn’t ready at first, though. She confessed that “Building up to the trip, I was like, ‘oh, my God, am I really doing this?’” But she knew that flying to the Dominican Republic, and meeting her biological father, and her siblings would allow her to make a decision regarding her future, and how much she wanted these people in her life.

On the Day of Flying, Tinetti Was Faced With Countless Difficulties That Put Her Off

While Tinetti eventually decided to go ahead with the trip, it seemed as though the universe was telling her not to. On the day of her trip, she was supposed to fly out of Hartford and catch a connecting flight to the Dominican Republic from Miami. But there were so many issues.

For a start, Tinetti had issues with her ticket and the plane itself. She took these all as signs that she shouldn’t be going, and that she should cancel her trip altogether. But she ultimately decided to ignore these signs and focus on what was ahead instead. And, eventually, she got there safely and finally met her biological family.

But Eventually Her Biological Family Reunion Was a Success, and She Loved Meeting Her Family

Tinetti stayed in the Dominican Republic for five days, and during this time she met her biological father and almost all of her siblings and many of her nieces and nephews. She loved the country and meeting all of the new faces, and she stated that “It was special for me because I didn’t know about my culture, so that was very important.”

However, she does believe that adoption stories should be taken with a pinch of salt – especially if people are looking for their adopted family. She noted that “Everyone’s story isn’t going to end up like this one. This is a very different circumstance; not everybody gets a happy ending when it comes to adoption.”

But Tinetti Does Have a Warning for Other Adopted People Looking for Their Family

Although Julia was lucky enough to find her biological family, she knows that every adoption story is different. She knows that some people don’t want to find their biological relatives, there are some relatives who don’t want to be found, and there are some stories that don’t have a happy ending. So, she has issued a warning to those who reach out to her.

Tinetti noted that “People who were adopted are now reaching out to us, which is really special. That to me, [means] more than anything. I also try to remember not every story has a happy ending…I’d say be prepared for anything.” And she’s not the only person in this story to issue a warning.

Madison Also Echoed Her Sister’s Concerns, and Wants People To Be Realistic

Of course, Tinetti was reluctant to begin with – but her decision to open up her mind and her heart allowed her to welcome a whole new side of her family into her life. But even for Madison, who was more willing to find her biological family, the process was a tough ordeal. So, she has also echoed Tinetti’s concerns.

Madison told people looking for their adopted family that they need to “Be prepared. They may not want to meet you and may have closed that chapter of their life. For me, it’s always been, ‘I’m going to find these people if it’s the last thing I do.’ I was going to die trying.” Thankfully, things worked out for Tinetti and Madison. But they still had one unanswered question.

Madison Also Believes Her Adoption Lawyer May Have Ultimately Caused the Mishap

Looking back on their similar-yet-completely-different lives, Madison and Tinetti can’t help but wonder what happened to them when they were younger. After all, their adoption papers didn’t match up at all – despite the fact that they have the same biological parents. And while they will never get the real answer, they do have their suspicions.

Molly Sapadin believes that there was just a simple mix-up of their papers that resulted in a “very big mistake” by the adoption agency. However, Madison doesn’t think the situation was as innocent as her cousin believes. She thinks her adoption lawyer played her part, as “You can’t tell me… she didn’t know something.”

However, Both Women Believe That Their Story Was Meant To Play Out This Way

Despite what happened, both Madison and Tinetti are happy to have each other in their lives. And while they often wished their story was different when they were young and trying to understand their adoption status, they ultimately both fell in love with their adopted families and their new lives. And they believe that their story was meant to play out this way.

Tinetti gushed that “Now that I look back on it, this had to happen. We were meant to cross paths like this.” In her eyes, they were meant to live their separate lives before coming together again at a later date. And she’s even stated that she “will forever be [Cassandra’s] annoying little sister.” She’s also added a new role to her resume in recent months, too.

Madison Has Since Had a Daughter, and Has Introduced Her to Her Biological Grandfather

As well as finding a new sister in Madison, a cousin in Sapadin, and a whole family she didn’t know about in the Dominican Republic, Tinetti has also become an auntie. In 2022, Madison welcomed her daughter Catalina into the world – and her whole world changed forever.

As well as introducing Catalina to her family in the United States, Madison also wanted to introduce her to her family in the Dominican Republic. She especially wanted Catalina to meet her biological father, and during one trip all of the women got together with their father to celebrate such a crazy life story. However, the craziness didn’t stop there.

To Make Their Story Even More Bizarre, Molly Sapadin Also Found Her Long-Lost Sister

As if Tinetti and Madison’s story couldn’t have been more incredible if it tried, the whole thing got even more bizarre when the women discovered one final twist; and it involved their cousin, Molly Sapadin. While taking DNA tests and inspecting paperwork in an effort to help her friends, she discovered a long-lost sister herself.

As if that wasn’t enough, she discovered that this sister lived just 40 minutes away from her! The whole situation has left all of the women shocked and surprised, but ultimately it has brought them together even more. They were family to begin with, but now they can officially say they’re biological family.