A seven-year search for a sister that Olivia Craggs didn’t even know existed for most of her life finally ended in hugs this week.
And it turned out that the sisters, who are originally from Red Deer, live only 10 minutes away from each other in Vancouver.
Craggs said meeting her sister on Monday was still kind of surreal.
“It was just kind of crazy and hard for me in a sense because of how much she resembles my mom. She’s the spitting image of her. Anyone who sees a picture of her starts crying right away because she just reminds them of my mom,” said Craggs about her sister Sage Elder, 31.
Craggs, 28, found out in 2014 that her mother Angie Craggs gave birth at 16 to a daughter, three years before Craggs was born. The baby was put up for adoption.
Craggs learned about her sister from an uncle only after her mom died in 2014 from cancer.
Craggs soon applied to the Alberta Adoption Agency for information about her sister, started checking databases and adoption groups on Facebook.
“I basically did everything I could for a few years. It just got to a point where it was a waiting game.”
It wasn’t until this summer, after Alberta adoption records became more accessible, that Craggs got the information she needed to help find Elder.
Craggs initially contacted Elder’s parents to give them the opportunity to tell her that she had a sister who wanted to meet. They happily passed on the request.
“Within a couple of days (Elder) had messaged me.”
Before long, Craggs drove over to meet her big sister.
Craggs said it turned out they have many similar interests and the conversation just flowed. They also had mutual friends in Vancouver, but Elder never saw Craggs’ online posts about her sibling search.
“I grew up thinking I was an only child so it’s just crazy. It’s crazy for me to think that every time my mom looked at me she was probably thinking of her,” Craggs said.
Elder said she was super nervous and took a deep, calming breath before she stepped outside her door to meet Craggs, but there turned out to be an instant connection.
“All of the nerves disappeared as soon as I hugged her,” said Elder about their “run and hug kind of movie scene.”
“She’s somebody I would be friends with. We’ve been in contact every day since.”
Elder said connecting with her birth family was something she was open to and wanted to do, but it always ended up on the back burner.
“I still thought my mom was alive out there somewhere.”
She said after Craggs reached out she had to make peace with never being able to meet her mom. There were definitely a lot of tears the first few days.
“I think I will always be sad about it, but I can’t wait to continue to be close to Olivia. It’s even better that she’s in my city. We’re so accessible to each other.”
Elder said they are both continuing to process what has happened while still going about their lives. The fact that they found each other during the pandemic, when people have less control over what’s going on, makes it even more incredible.
“It’s given me a lot of hope. It feels a little like being in a dream. There’s this kind of divine timing to our story that just blows my mind,” Elder said.
Their mother was also adopted, and the sisters want to take some time off so Craggs can introduce Elder to family in Alberta and on reserve in Saskatchewan.
They both encourage people who are looking for family to never give up.
“I had exhausted everything that I could do so I never thought this was going to happen. It’s been a whirlwind, is all I can say,” Craggs said.