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New parents were told girls weren't twins; DNA says yes

ORANGEVALE, Calif. — They live thousands of miles apart, they speak different languages, butthey are definitely twin sisters.

They have the same biological parents in China, but they never knew it until years later.

Mia and her twin, Alexandra, were found in a cardboard box and taken to an orphanage in 2003. Mia went home to the Sacramento suburb of Orangevale, Calif., with Andy and Angela Hansen. Her sister went home with Sigmund and WencheHauglum of Fresvik, Norway.

Both their families met during the adoption process in Changsha in China's Hunan province. The families felt very strongly that the girls were twins.

"They looked exactly alike," Angela Hansen said. "We were told they were not twins."

The couples stayed in touch. A year later, the families decided to do a DNA test, which confirmed that the girls were indeed biological twins.

So in 2009 at age 6, the girls met for the first time here. They've seen each other several times since.

“There is really something about each of them that is the same that thousands of thousands of miles apart can't influence and can't change.”

Mia is now 11 years old. She plays the piano, has been in Girl Scouts, enjoys golf and loves to dance. Alexandra loves to ice skate, swim and ride her bike.

"It's kind of crazy thinking how far she is, compared to the distance between normal sisters," Mia said.

Mia and Alexandra occasionally send each other letters. But they also stay in touch in other ways.

"We do Facetime every weekend on Saturday and Sundays," Mia said. "Her English has improved a lot!"

The girls have a lot in common.

"We both don't like tomatoes; we both like olives," Mia said. "If we're really happy, we'll jump up and down and squeal."

Even before the girls developed their own personalities, their adoptive mothers had a hunch

"I thought they are twins," Angela Hansen said. "There is really something about each of them that is the same that thousands of thousands of miles apart can't influence and can't change."

After the BBC featured Mia and Alexandra in a story about twins, a Norwegian documentary producer decided to put together a story just focusing on the girls. A camera crew followed the girls around in their prospective countries.

"It was really exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time," Mia said.

The sisters have seen each other on a few different trips now.

"It's an adventure now," Andy Hansen said. "Whatever they do, they will find a way to be together."

Just a few months ago, they went to the Norwegian Emmys together because the documentary about them, Twin Sisters, won several awards.

The documentary about Mia and Alexandra will be shown at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT Monday on some PBS stations as part of the network's Independent Lens series; check local listings. It's the first time the film is being shown in the USA.

Twin Sisters clip

Independent Lens: Twin Sisters

Twins Mia Hansen and Alexandra Hauglam were adopted from Changsha, China, and didn't know they were twins. Mia's family lives in Orangevale, Calif., and Alexandra's family lives in Fresvik, Norway.

Link to full article on USA Today

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Twin Sisters Official Website

Watch the award-winning documentary online here:


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