OCEANSIDE — Amanda Bergara’s life changed a few months ago when she met her sister, Sabrina Robinson, for the first time.
Amanda Bergara didn’t grow up with any biological siblings or her father, who she met when she was 12 but disappeared from her life again after that. She knew her father had children from another marriage, but she had never met them.
Amanda Bergara didn’t even know that she had yet another half sibling out there, and she wasn’t looking either — she was afraid that such an encounter would be negative.
It was her daughter, Milana, who got her mother to agree to take the DNA test that would ultimately reveal the half sister she never knew.
Amanda Bergara said her daughter was interested in learning about the medical history from her maternal grandfather’s side, which is what prompted the DNA test.
Milana Bergara chose 23andMe as the DNA testing company. Her mother also took the test for her daughter despite some of her worries.
“I’d do anything for my daughter,” Amanda Bergara said.
The two found some first cousin matches, but never reached out to them. Eventually Milana Bergara spotted someone with a lot of the same DNA. She messaged the person, Jacklyn Robinson, to figure out the connection.
What she found out was that Jacklyn was her first cousin because both of their mothers had the same father.
“I just never expected this,” Amanda Bergara said.
Amanda Bergara moved to Oceanside in the late 1990s but grew up in Los Angeles. That’s also where Sabrina Robinson also grew up and currently lives, but the two never crossed paths.
Their daughters continued talking to each other and eventually arranged a lunch meeting for the four of them in December 2018.
The Bergaras arrived at the restaurant first and got a table in the back of the dining room but faced the front doors to see who would walk in.
“I knew it was them from all the way in the back of the restaurant,” Amanda Bergara said when they finally saw the Robinsons.
The connection was there.
Since that first meeting, the sisters and their daughters have talked, texted and met up a few more times. Both mothers lead incredibly busy lives, so they still have yet to meet the all of each other’s family.
Amanda Bergara has three children of her own as well as two stepchildren and their children, and Sabrina Robinson has two daughters.
Amanda Bergara said she always wanted to have a biological sibling. Now that it’s happened, she doesn’t think of it as a dream come true — she thinks of it as a miracle.
“It’s just a miracle in today’s times that we’re able to have this opportunity without even really looking for it,” she said. “Twenty or 30 years ago this wouldn’t have been possible.”
Even though they both grew up in the same city, Amanda Bergara said the two had very different lives and simply wouldn’t have crossed paths with each other there. Instead, they found each other through happenstance.
“We were in the right place when all the stars aligned,” she said.
Despite her fears and reservations about connecting with a sibling she had never met, the entire experience has turned out to be a positive one.
“I’m looking forward to my life changing and growing with her,” Amanda Bergara said about her sister. “It’s nice when you’re 51 years of age and you meet a sibling and they turn out to be a good person. It’s a nice addition to my life.”
Samantha Nelson covers Oceanside, Camp Pendleton and the decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. She earned her journalism degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and has previously reported for The Athens Messenger in Athens, Ohio, and USA Today in McLean, Virginia. Follow her on Twitter: @samm1son