Little Rock, IA
It's the stuff of a made-for-TV movie: two half-sisters meeting for the first time at their mother's funeral. But this real-life drama has a very happy ending.
As they reminisce over old family photos, you'd think these two sisters had been side by side for decades. But these two have lived a lifetime apart.
Marlys Hinkley was adopted 60 years ago and raised in Sioux Falls. It wasn't until her adoptive parents died that she found her birth mom.
"She had no indication that she wanted to get together with me," Hinkley said.
It was a family secret, Phillis Allen's daughter Carole Kruger, knew her mother wanted kept.
"She would say the past is in the past," Kruger said.
But Hinkley never forgot her biological mom and when she saw she had died last month she felt compelled to go to the funeral.
Sitting in the back row at the service, the family resemblance was too obvious to ignore.
"I was the only one in the back row and I looked at them. I wasn't inconspicuous at all. I stuck out like a sore thumb," Hinkley said.
So near their mother's casket, the two sisters met for the first time.
"The meeting was wonderful, just an immediate connection. I couldn't have asked for anything more," Hinkley said.
"It is just amazing," Kruger added. "It was surreal. It really was."
They're catching up together for the first time since the funeral, at Kruger's farm house in Little Rock, Iowa. The sisters discover they have the same purse and artwork.
"We are so similar. It's not a coincidence. It has to be in the genes," Hinkley said.
For Hinkley, who's buried her adoptive parents and brother, the discovery of new family means everything.
"I have a huge family now. Isn't that something," Hinkley said. "Makes me tear up. I felt so alone and I'm not."
The sisters are already making plans to spend the holidays together as a family.