“I always wondered where I came from and who I looked like,” she said. “I had a lot of questions, but my adoptive parents didn’t have many answers.”
“When I grew up, I just knew there had to be someone else out there who was related to me,” she added.
She joined a DNA matching company and found out about three years ago that she has several half siblings.
One of them, a sister, lived just 15 minutes down the road. That was just the beginning of the similarities.
“I was shocked to learn how close it was,” Dugan said. “In fact, my hair has risen to the nape of my neck.”
The sister who was practically a neighbor, Trish Morgan-Tilley, 52, has the same father as Dugan. When the two met face to face for the first time in 2019, they were stunned by the parallels in their lives.
Morgan-Tilley said it was almost like seeing a ghost when Dugan walked into the Italian restaurant where they had their first meeting.
“Michele slipped into the cabin with these fiery blue eyes, and it was just like looking at my dad,” she said. “I couldn’t stop staring at her. There was no doubt that she was my sister. We started finishing each other’s sentences. “
Dugan has two sons, while Morgan-Tilley has a son and three daughters. Two of their children graduated from the same high school together in 2018, before the sisters knew each other.
“Our kids didn’t know each other, but Trish and I were there that day filming the graduation ceremony from different angles,” she said. “It’s amazing to think we’ve probably met at school or at the supermarket over the years.”
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Dugan said she was first motivated to look for her relatives while watching television in October 2018 when an Ancestry ad came out and she decided to open an account and submit a sample of her DNA.
In January 2019, the results returned: she was of Scottish, English and Irish descent and there was a long list of people who shared her DNA.
Dugan said he contacted the person with the highest DNA match and learned that he had six half siblings scattered across the United States – four half siblings and two half sisters – all with the same biological father. He also learned that it was the product of a relationship he had had while he was married.
But she was delighted to meet her sister who had lived near Las Vegas for most of her life.
“A sister who lives in the same town! She was what I had always dreamed of, “Dugan said.
He said he immediately contacted Facebook.
Classmates wouldn’t sign his yearbook. So the older students intervened.
Trish Morgan-Tilley was only five months older than Dugan and had the same interests in cooking, travel and real estate. Dugan began selling homes in Las Vegas in 1998 and her sister had attended real estate school but had not yet received a license.
In June 2019, Dugan encouraged his new-found sister to take the Nevada real estate license exam. When Morgan-Tilley passed the test, Dugan came up with an idea: How about Morgan-Tilley coming to work with her at Realty One Group in Las Vegas?
“Trish immediately said yes and I took her under my wing,” Dugan said. “I’ve sold a couple of thousand properties over the years, so I started showing her everything I knew about the real estate business.”
Morgan-Tilley said she was delighted to have a new career path after years of bartending and selling vacation timeshare.
“My sister has a heart of gold – the thought of working with her every day and getting to know her better was exciting,” she said.
She and Dugan quickly came up with a name for their team: Sisters Selling Vegas.
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When the real estate company they both work at now asked employees for some interesting personal stories this spring, the sisters realized they had the perfect story to tell.
“Then, after we talked about it, we thought, ‘Why not call the local news too?'” Dugan said. “It’s just wonderful that we found each other the way we found each other.”
Now, being in each other’s daily life, they have created many bonds. They also learned about each other’s past.
Morgan-Tilley said she has lived in Las Vegas since she was 8 and enjoyed childhood with her two brothers. Meanwhile, Dugan and her brother were adopted by a family and grew up in the San Fernando Valley, California.
“Our birth mother was a single parent who was unable to take care of herself, let alone two children,” Dugan said, noting that her biological mother passed away in 2002.
“When I found Trish and my other new stepbrothers, I was happy to finally get some answers about my biological father,” she said.
Morgan-Tilley said that after meeting Dugan, she talked to her mother and learned that her father was having an affair. But as far as she knew, no one in the family knew that the relationship had led to pregnancy.
“Our father was a charismatic person who loved people and everyone loved him,” she said, adding that her father died in 2004.
“He’s always been a good father to me and my brothers,” Morgan-Tilley said.
Dugan’s adoptive father died in 1997, but his mother is still alive and supports the discovery of his native family, he said.
“He knows it’s a wonderful gift,” Dugan said. “I know where I come from and now I have two families to love.”
She and her sister said they both feel they’ve long beaten the odds in Vegas.
“We missed the first 48 years, so we’ll count each day with the time we have left,” said Morgan-Tilley.
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